Simon & Schuster will enter the self-publishing world

The publishing giant is teaming up with Author Solutions Inc. to create Archway Publishing, a publishing house which will focus on self-published works.

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    Books coming from Archway Publishing will not carry the Simon & Schuster name which appears on company titles such as 'In the Shadow of the Banyan Tree' and 'Where They Stand.'
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If there was any doubt in the publishing industry that self-publishing is here to stay, news that a top mainstream publisher is teaming up with a self-publishing company to create a self-publishing imprint should put those doubts to rest.

Simon & Schuster announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Author Solutions Inc. to create Archway Publishing, a separate publishing house focused on self-published fiction, non-fiction, business, and children’s books.

Self-publishing is a booming sector of the publishing industry, and Tuesday’s news reaffirms the significance of self-publishing.

“Self-publishing has become a viable and popular route to publication for many authors, and increasingly a source of content for traditional publishers, including Simon & Schuster,” Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “We’re excited that we’ll be able to help more authors find their own path to publication and at the same time create a more direct connection to those self-published authors ready to make the leap to traditional publishing.”

Simon & Schuster is marketing Archway’s self-publishing offerings as a premium service – which comes at a premium cost to authors. Archway will offer authors a range of packages from a basic $1,599 children’s package that includes “editorial assessment” and “cover copy review” to a $24,999 “Outreach” program for business books that includes an “author profile video,” and a reception at BookExpo America, the industry’s annual national convention.

It might be a tough sell. Archway will be staffed and operated by Author Solutions (not Simon & Schuster) and final products will not have the Simon & Schuster name attached to them. “With no Simon & Schuster personnel involved, and without the Simon & Schuster name attached in any way to the final product, Archway’s prices – significantly higher than the competition – could be a hard sell,” writes the New York Times.

Still, the partnership helps an established publishing house like Simon & Schuster get in on the skyrocketing self-publishing trend with relatively little risk.

According to data from research firm Bowker, some 211,269 books were self-published in 2011, up more than 60 percent from the previous year, as reported by Shelf Awareness.

Driven in part by the rise of e-readers, self-publishing has itself given rise to self-published author stars like Amanda Hocking, the e-book phenom and millionaire behind the “Trylle Triogy,” and John Locke, author of “Saving Rachel,” the first author to sell more than one million self-published e-books through Amazon.

Further proof that self-publishing is highly sought-after? In a move to capture some of the self-publishing market itself, Simon & Schuster’s rival Pearson, parent company of Penguin Group, bought Author Solutions in July, before Simon & Schuster’s announcement. That’s two large publishing houses (and three by extension, since Penguin Group is merging with Random House) going after one small self-publishing start-up.

As Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a changing.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.


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