Warren Adler, author of the bestselling novel and film The War of the Roses, has been self-publishing through his imprint Stonehouse Productions for years and has found it quite successful.
He is currently developing the Hollywood sequel to The War of the Roses, The War of the Roses: The Children, along with other projects including: Capitol Crimes, a television series based on Adler’s Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels, as well as a feature film based on Adler and James Humes’ WWII thriller, Target Churchill, in association with Myles Nestel and Lisa Wilson of The Solution Entertainment Group.
GalleyCat caught up with Adler to discuss how publishing has been evolving and where it is going.
GC: How has self-publishing evolved?
WA: The Internet has opened up an arena in which people’s latent desire to be noticed, and to communicate their thoughts, opinions and alleged talents to others, has spawned an explosion of creative expression of epic proportions.
Publishing technology led by Amazon has blasted open those gates, and any writer who can put words on a screen can, with little effort and expense, offer a book for publication, joining an endless cyber shelf along with every popular and classical author on the planet.
Some few in various categories have found a market for their efforts. The overwhelming majority has not, except for sales to devoted friends and relatives. For some, this is satisfaction enough. For those who have fantasized of achieving instant fame and fortune, it has been an exercise in disappointment and frustration. Nevertheless, like the impossible odds of winning the lottery, a very few have exceeded beyond their wildest dreams, and have encouraged more and more to enter the fray.
GC: Is the market-oversaturated?
WA: As long as there are no limits on the offerings, and there is infinite cyberspace to accommodate anyone who chooses to create a book, the market will expand exponentially. Indeed, no eBook will ever go out of print and the numbers will continue upward.
Amazon is clearly able to profitably absorb the flow, and as others like Apple, Kobo, and perhaps Nook expand their capacity, the market will proliferate endlessly. Screening attempts, meaning subjectively picking the wheat from the chaff, which was once exclusively the work of selected print publications and reviewers is now in the hands of a vast array of self-appointed recommenders and critics who have collectively become “the screeners.” They offer milliseconds of opinion plucked from the infinite swamp of review offerings.
GC: What do you think of Amazon reviews?
WA: There is the phenomenon of the starred review, which has become, despite being dubious, largely an unreliable and non-transparent source, a kind of pop standard critique of a book’s worth. I often wonder how the Bible might score on this standard. “A bit wordy, too many names and undefined characters and plot lines.” One star.
The opposite of infinite is finite. Need I discuss the fact that the readers of books are finite and, by most accounts, shrinking.
GC: How can authors get noticed in this landscape?
WA: A cottage industry has grown up around the premise of authors getting noticed, all of which advocate the same basic ideas. Engage with potential readers, blog frequently, create a fan base, stay in touch, seek speaking engagements, attempt to get into readers clubs, send press releases, engage professionals for PR and advertising, try for television and radio interviews, send postcards, do videos and podcasts, find creative ways to keep your name out there. These ideas work for notoriety, although sales are never guaranteed.
Of course, for many the grand prize is to get your book adapted for television and film, the longest shot of all. If the adaptation is an enduring hit, then it will be very helpful to book sales. If it is a flop, it won’t be much help. Besides, if you’re lucky enough to get a production, the chances are that it will happen long after your book is launched – this has certainly been my own experience.
The secret to all this advice is consistency and repetition, requiring a serious commitment of time, effort, and money.
GC: What do you expect in the future of book publishing?
WA: With shelf space diminishing in brick and mortar stores, and infinite cyber book “shelves” proliferating with endless books in all categories, a number of scenarios suggest themselves:
1. Random House or a competing company, in self-defense, could buy up Barnes and Noble’s stores and other chains still existent around the world and set up their own combination of brick and mortar and cyber stores.
2. Amazon could buy Barnes and Noble to complement its already formidable hold on the market.
3. Amazon could set up its own bricks-and-mortar chains and create some creative ways to use its POD operation in some shelving mechanism yet to be developed.
4. Authors with some recognition and respectable output in the past and with some subjective compatibility will form their own publishing companies as individuals or collectives and pool their resources in an effort to market their work, not only in books, but in all media worldwide.
Authors are particularly at risk in this new environment and, as one of that tough and irascible breed, I wish I could offer a comforting look into the future. Writing is our calling. No matter how conditions change in the marketplace we will soldier on no matter what.