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Scribd Might Make Vanity Publishing Cool

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For the longest time publishers have had the power over who gets known and who doesn’t. Fortunately, in this century, we have the Internet, and services like Scribd, which allows authors to upload their manuscripts, set a price, and keep most of the money from sales.

Scribd touts itself as the YouTube of the publishing world. Scribd allows users to upload pretty much any document format, PDF, Word, PowerPoint, etc., and share as they like. Readers unattached to glossy covers can download the documents and print, read, embed, or share. Authors can charge for downloads, keep 80 percent of sales (as compared to a meager two percent), and control how the e-book is distributed.

Today, Scribd announced a deal with publishing giants Random House and Simon & Schuster, among many others to make books available and offer sneak preview chapters and excerpts.

While Lulu (print on demand publisher) has held steady at 800,000 unique monthly viewers, Scribd in the past few months has rocketed past seven million. Already that’s a significant opportunity for authors looking to bypass the wait-and-hope approach and to take publishing matters into their own hands. It could even be a bridge between authors and powerhouse publishers, displacing agents and giving those risk-averse publishers a good indication of a book’s potential.

Though vanity publishing was forever on the lower rung of the publishing world—a sign an author couldn’t get published otherwise—I think this will change with technology. Vanity publishing will become a way for authors to self-promote at no financial risk or risk of signing away all their publishing rights.


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