iUniverse and the publishing path of the novel A Perfect Blindness
This shift towards online sales in particular has been decisive in the erosion of the differences between the two kinds of publishing paths and not merely for E-books. In online stores, all books are found on the same shelf: books from the big five publishers are next to books from small houses, as are books from mid-sized houses, which are next to books from independent publishers, which are next to books from a single author acting as a publisher; hard covers, paperbacks and E-books are all found mingled together—frequently, three forms of a book are all offered on a single webpage.
On line, the books put out by Penguin are not only next to ones by Ten Speed Press, which are next to books from iUniverse, which are next to volumes by Morsby Press, but accompanying them are ratings and reviews by readers. A book by Random House can get a 1 star rating and a host of disparaging reviews, as easily as a release by iUniverse could get a 5 star rating, and reviews calling for it to be shortlisted for the Pulitzer—online, all books can be found as peers, no matter what form or who publishes them.
The way sites make sales rankings available, akin to trending posts on social media, helps drive the sales of popular books, which could be from any publisher and in any form, further emphasizing the lack of any real difference between these books as texts. While there might be different ways to sort the ranking—by genre, reader ranking, or by physical form such as hardbound, softcover, or Ebook—on most sites, there simply is no wall keeping self-published books outside and in their own ‘lesser’ place.
Since checking ratings and comments is an organic part of buying online, standalone sites dedicated to reader rating and book reviewing sprang up, such as goodreads.com. The growth of social media has helped boost the reach of authors and imprints. Pages for authors, individual books, and genres proliferated, many with direct links for purchase; fans built pages to spread their enthusiasm for a work or writer. Any individual could evangelize any book they like to all members of their group on-line. Blogs dedicated to books, publishing, and the most specific genres imaginable sprang up, establishing a class of influencers able to boost a book’s reputation in the eyes of their followers, and from all this sales followed: For all types of books, regardless of origin.
Perhaps most importantly, some authors could actually make money publishing their own books. A few made very good money, as in six figures good.