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.

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.'

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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