One of the things that has surprised me about conducting this poll over the years is that the results haven’t changed that much since 2013.
That’s pretty interesting!
Except this year… there’s something a bit different. But I’ll get to that in a sec.
First, all the caveats that this is an unscientific poll, and especially bear in mind that because of my experience as a former literary agent and my advice on query letters, the traditional-leaning population is probably a bit over-represented.
Here’s the history:
In 2013 and 2014, the traditional-only crowd was around 22-23% and self-publishing die-hards were at 10%.
Another way to look at it: the traditional-first crowd was around 65-67% and the self-publishing first crowd was around 33%.
In 2015 there was a rise in the number of people who were planning to go straight to self-publishing and not even looking at traditional, which rose to 15% and this trend continued into 2017, 2018, and 2019. (There was no poll in 2016, alas).
But the broad contours of ~67-70% traditional first and ~30-33% self-publishing first held through last year.
And this year…
It looks broadly similar to last year’s poll, and the additional hybrid publishing option may influence things a tad.
But here’s what’s interesting to me. When you combine the “traditional only” and “traditional first but then self-publishing” group, the people starting with traditional is 63.4%, the lowest it’s ever been. Self- and hybrid publishing comprises the remaining 36.6%.
Are more people beginning to rethink pursuing traditional publishing entirely? Is it just the new hybrid option throwing things off?
What do you make of the results?
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Art: Rotations-Buchdruckmaschine from Meyers Konversationslexikon
JOHN T. SHEA says
I think this shows a real increase in interest in not-solely-traditional publishing. Amazon has not proved to be quite the savior many writers expected, but not all self-publishers use it.
Incidentally, my German is a bit rusty but I think the picture caption reads “!900 Espresso Book Machine and finger remover”…
Ken Hughes says
Interesting milestone. I’m tempted to say it’s really just the overall trend toward self-publishing, and the “what’s first” aspect is only one part of it… but when that figure stays consistent from 2013-2018, that’s too much to ignore.
Sounds like it really is the first time that any of that consistent majority of writers started thinking self-publishing might be more than an (increasingly promising) “backup plan.” (Or maybe that a “Self-to-Trad” path could work.) And that could mean a real approval gain for self-publishing, or a loss for traditional.
Or it could mean fewer traditionals or more self-pubbers are showing up for your poll, of course. (And that’s Year COVID, of course.) Is there anything interesting in the number of responses this year?