So the gatekeepers that are literary agents and acquisitions editors are keeping the gate closed just a bit too much.
With the likes of Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, with Barnes & Noble operating PubIt, to say nothing of Smashwords, there have been a few books published via these self-publishing venues that have become hits.
That means there were books available to the gatekeepers but they didn't see what the reading public came to see, and that means income lost to the traditional publishing house.
How to capture that niche, in which the author takes on all the work and the publisher has minimal risk?
Pearson has acquired Author Solutions, a self-publishing platform based in Indiana. Already it is touting itself as a member of the Penguin Publishing Group, lending a certain cachet with ties to a major player in the book world.
The merger will increase business at Author Solutions because writers know they will have a chance, albeit a wee tiny one, to maybe achieve their goal of getting a publisher's attention.
While Author Solutions will be useful to Pearson in the areas of online marketing and the like, Pearson will be of more use to Author Solutions just by allowing the firm to paste the name Penguin all over its promotions.
Increasing traffic to Author Solutions will increase the odds that a break-out novelist will come into the fold, in which case Penguin Publishing can pick up that author under its own terms. Said author is half way in the door, so to speak, and won't be eager to let that door hit their arse on the way out if they aren't completely in love with the contract terms offered by Penguin.
By acquiring Author Solutions, Penguin is adding a new gatekeeper to the acquisition process. The reading public will become part of the selection process, with the author becoming their own marketing department (at their own expense) to reach that public.
Even without a gem mined from the slushpile, it's all about profit and Author Solutions brings income to Pearson. Those who self-publish will usually market their book to family and friends, who make purchases out of love, rather than a desire to read the book. What matter is that they buy, and pay, and like the average supermarket, Pearson can turn a profit on slim margins through quantity.
So Amazon will find more competition on its pitch.
They've shown how it can be a profitable venture, to offer both hard copy and e-book publishing with a portal to the market.
Now Pearson will take Amazon's example and run with it, in their own direction, and hope to find more financial success than can be had under the old model.
The publishing industry is changing, but where the carousel stops is anyone's guess. But you have to get on and ride if you're to get anywhere at all.