Thinking Longer About Penguin

I’ve been reading a lot about Penguin’s move into self-publishing. And I’ve been thinking a lot about it too. At first I was only focused on the bad business model they have. But once you get past that, you can think deeper about what their move really means. Before I tell you about that, let me just say, yes, it’s ok to be angry about this.

Self-Publishers Have Every Right To Be Angry

For years legacy publishers have turned up their noses at self-publishing. Claiming it will never work. Claiming it can’t be done. Claiming that their way is the only “real” way to publish a book. But then people like Konrath and many, many others go out and make it work and prove them wrong, only to now see one of the “big six” publishers come in and make a play at the very thing they denied, and do it badly.

I get it. We’re angry at legacy publishers for letting us blaze the trail they said was idiotic to follow, then now, come and want to walk the trail. No way! YOU told us we couldn’t do it, and now you want claim it as your own?

Henry Baum at makes a great case for self-publishers to lighten up and for us to stop with the “us vs. them” mantra.

Us vs. them is the wrong stance to take. By all means, call out Penguin on a bad enterprise, but there should also maybe be a bit of welcoming Penguin into the fold as well. Some writers are going to get taken for a ride by the service, but mostly is Penguin is saying: we get it, self-publishing is taking over.

I agree. You know, in every successful business I’ve had I’ve welcomed when the big player in my industry jumped into the fray. Why? Because it validates your entire business model and direction.

It means that they noticed you. It means that you’re doing something right. It also means that you are now legitimate to investors and journalists and new customers.

If I was to have an argument right now about Penguin, I would say I’m glad they jumped in. Albeit, I wish they did it right, but nevertheless, they did validate self-publishing simply by acknowledging it.

That… is a good thing for the self-publishing industry.