To PubIt or Not To PubIt

Courtesy Barnes & Noble

So Barnes & Noble today announced this little feature called PubIt! that’s directly tied into their Nook e-readers. Here’s the short version from their site:

PubIt! utilizes a self-service Web portal for publishers to independently set up their accounts, upload their eBooks, set the list price, and track their sales and payments. Publishing an eBook through PubIt! makes the content available via our Read In Store program which gives bookstore customers the ability to browse the complete contents of eBooks at no cost. In addition, all eBooks offered via PubIt! will be lendable, giving the customer the opportunity to share the book once with any friend for up to 14 days.

I’m not sure how to feel about this.

On the one hand, it seems that PubIt! is designed to allow new writers to break into the realm of the published without the long waits, repeated rejection and labyrinthine contracts of the established publishing industry. The notion of complete creative control and bypassing payment due to extra people such as publishing staff and agents appeals to the small writer just starting out. It might be a way to get a little cash flow going to fund bigger projects. Or one might even launch a whole career using this system.

On the other hand, I can see a lot of bad things pouring into B&N’s system through this portal. A glut of bad writing will make good writing even harder to spot. Also, the small number of Nook users relative to the general reading audience makes me wary. I know there are e-reader apps for the various iWhatevers, but still there seems to be fewer people with thin plastic platforms than there are folks with access to traditional bookstores. Maybe that’s just me.

I’m undecided on this. Do I look into this further, as a way to get smaller works into the hands of readers for audience-building, or do I ignore it as another trend and continue slaving on my traditional editing/querying/flagellation cycle?

What do you think, writers of the Internets?

6 Comments

  1. I tend to take a pessimist’s view and believe that, for every gemstone you find, there’s going to be a lot of shit to dig through to find it.

    I subscribe to an app on my BlackBerry called Wattpad, which links to the fiction-sharing website of the same name. It allows writers worldwide to read and share their original fiction. And I’ll admit that I’ve found a few stories I like, but there are others – oh, there are others – that make me want to cringe. That make me want to break out the red pen. That make me want to stab my eyes out and never read again.

    And now I can actually pay for that privilege. Huzzah.

    I think it’ll be a good medium in the long, but in the short? Books get rejections for a reason. Sometimes, those reasons are ideological; what they’re writing is unsuitable for the publishers to which they send it. But sometimes, it’s because they haven’t tightened it up, or paid attention to the editor’s notes. Sometimes, they’ve heard so much about the editing process (“they’ll murder your work until you no longer recognize it as yours”) they want to skip the process entirely and not risk the death of their baby.

    The short? I’ll avoid it. The long? We’ll see.

  2. I don’t know. I applaud the initiative, I suppose, though I think the ratio of gems to stones may make it difficult to find great works where they live. Maybe an audience will arise to recommend and curate and celebrate the works that standout for good reasons.

    Admittedly, I’m not a great sample for an opinion on this, as I’m not an ereader user yet, Nook or otherwise.

  3. @Maggie – That’s pretty much how I feel. I’d rather get real ink to generate some interest & traction, then maybe toss something on PubIt! while working on the next big print project.

    @Will – Me neither. I can’t really afford any sort of eReader. Not even an Etch-A-Sketch with a wi-fi connection.

  4. If you’re looking for this direction, it would seem (to me) that Kindle is your best bet. Seems to be some good success in that realm. And getting bigger.

    — c.

  5. I’d definitely give it a shot. I do have a nook, as well as the app for my Droid. Plus, there are stand alone programs to read on PC and Mac.

    The nook store does have a whole ratings system from users, so that does allow for help in bypassing the crap.

    Being as the nook is owned by Barnes and Noble, there is always a possibility of them approaching you to kill a few hundred trees and give you hard copies of your books as well. Or publishers might approach as well if it gets popular.

    Does PubIt allow for you to dictate price? Also, check and see about allowing your books to be part of Free Fridays. After you have another book, that’d be a tremendous way to get your name out there.

    As far as Kindle vs Nook goes, my wife and I researched both before we got the nook. The Kindle has far fewer features than the nook does. Kindle’s success seems to come from amazon beating the crap out of you with it.

  6. @Ben: “The Kindle has far fewer features than the nook does.” I agree with you, but that’s one of the things I like about my Kindle. It only does what I need it to do. I’m kind of a technology purist that way. =)

    But yeah, this sounds like a neat little idea. I’d make sure it doesn’t interfere with you finding an actual publisher though. Check that fine print, man. Check it well…

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