The Brave New World of Publishing: Eric Searleman Reports

Eric Searleman reports on how the publishing industry is changing. It’s an exciting time for authors, but publishers must innovate or go the way of the Trash 80. – Content is king. That never changes. What’s changed is how it is consumed, presented, curated and distributed. It’s mind blowing. Check out our Eric Searleman’s report.

Initiatives like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and the Google Books Partner Program are forcing traditional publishers to up their game in a redefined marketplace.

Best-selling author Neil Gaiman, a keynote speaker at the 2013 London Book Fair, says companies like Amazon and Google aren’t the enemy.

“The enemy right now,” says Gaiman, “is simply refusing to understand how fast the world is changing.”

The rate of change has indeed increased, especially in the publishing industry. But chaos isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it offers unprecedented opportunities for authors, who have more leverage now than ever before. Signing a fat contract with McGraw-Hill is just one of many options available to the undiscovered writer with manuscript in-hand.


Image credit: Superhero Novels

“It’s hard to overstate how fast the publishing industry is changing,” said Steve Statham, an author with both traditional and self-publishing experience. He published 12 books the old-fashioned way before experimenting with the self-publishing process. Since 2011, the Texas author has self-published three novels in his manly adventure series featuring modified private investigator Connor Rix.

For Statham, the new publishing paradigm is like a walk in the park on a sunny day. Commenting on his self-publishing experience, he says, “I like the time-to-market aspect, the control over pricing, control over the cover, the ability to check sales any time of day or night, and getting paid monthly.” And, he adds, he especially values the opportunity to retain all rights to his creation.


Image credit: Superhero Novels

For Fritz Freiheit, a Michigan-based author and the mad genius behind the Nova Genesis World series, the creation of Amazon’s online e-book market opened the floodgates for self-publishers and e-book publishers. In the past there was a disconnect between authors and their readers. Without a big league publisher and distributor at their disposal, nobody was going to discover an author’s book. “There wasn’t a real market for e-books until after the Kindle was introduced,” says Freiheit.

Even though there have been stellar success stories in the world of e-publishing (E.L. James and Amanda Hocking immediately come to mind), there remain nagging issues for writers who turn their backs on traditional publishing. For example, they don’t get the benefits of professional editorial guidance, they don’t have access to sales and marketing diligence, and they forego the thrill of seeing their novels shelved in bookstores next to Stephen King, Judi Picoult, and Neil Gaiman. Authors need to sit down and consider their choices carefully.

One thing is certain: We are witnessing the dawn of a new publishing era. And over the next few years, we will undoubtedly see a new publishing culture emerge. Manhattan publishers are a wily bunch. They’re not waving the red flag in defeat any time soon. Their relevancy may be diminishing, but you can bet they’re working overtime to keep their legacy alive.

Nevertheless, it’s important to bear in mind that in tech, a legacy system connotes something whose time has passed, yet for reasons of time and money, is still in service. In the future, the publishing industry may be reluctant to embrace its own legacy.

Based in San Francisco, Eric Searleman is a senior editor at He’s worked as a newspaper reporter, a fiction editor, a comic book artist — and even a rocker. He’s edited novels for Eraserhead Press including “Trashland A Go Go”, and he’s illustrated books for Immedium including “Animals Don’t, So I Won’t”. Read Eric’s blog about superheroes at or check out his bio on