#AuthorSay: How a Simple Hashtag Propelled the Biggest Debate in Publishing


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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist


Self publishing versus traditional publishing: the debate has been raging in the publishing industry for some time, and the embers of each new argument only further kindle the conversation. For most of the life of the publishing industry there was only one route to publication, but digitization forged a new path, and in doing so created a choice.

But how does the existence of an unprecedented choice translate into overall impact when it comes to the landscape of the ever-changing publishing world? All that was missing was the numbers.

Until #AuthorSay.

#AuthorSay is the hashtag created for the “Do You Love Your Publisher?” survey of traditionally published authors, created by UK-based author Harry Bingham and US-based publishing analyst Jane Friedman. The online survey aims hopes to both quantify and qualify a better understanding of authors’ experiences with traditional publishing.

The survey is only 32 questions long, and is aimed only at traditionally published authors to ask them about their experience of the business model. The survey is available worldwide until March 31st, giving authors four weeks in total to weigh in, and the results will be released April 10th in time for the London Author Fair.

The latest report released on the ongoing survey reported that more than 630 traditionally published authors have taken it. Among other results, of those 630 surveyed so far:

  • 80 percent are “happy with their cover design.”
  • 75 percent are “either neutral or horrified at the thought of taking control” by self-publishing.
  • 70 percent are “happy with the copyediting received.”
  • 50 percent “had self-published at least one title.”
  • 45 percent said they would stay with their current agents if offered a chance to move to another.
  • 31 percent: indicated that they would stay with their current publisher if that similar deal were offered by another.

While the results released so far are compelling, I’m interested in how the digitization effect, the seed that led to the catalyst of self-publishing in the first place, plays a role in the conversation. The #AuthorSay hashtag has been buzzing with authors, both self-published and traditional, who are lending their voices and opinions to the discussion.

The hashtag itself has become a microcosm for the effect of digitalization on the publishing industry. Where there once was only a traditional way to be published, there are now various avenues. Where the survey only echoes the opinions of traditionally published authors, authors of all platforms are taking to Twitter to spread their blog posts, predictions and theories.

Out of the top 300 tweets posted using the #AuthorSay hashtag so far, here are the results (courtesy of TweetBinder):

  • 3,295,363 total impact, which is the number of times someone could have seen the hashtag.
  • 1,032,609 unique people reached.
  • There was an average of 6,619 followers per contributor who ranked in the top 300 tweets and used the hashtag.
  • The largest usage spike to date occurred on Friday the 13th around 2 p.m. ET.


So while we await the results of the “Do You Love Your Publisher?” survey, consider the impact of the conversation already happening online. Regardless of the results that are released in April, you can guarantee that the #AuthorSay hashtag will get the final word as authors of all platforms flock to address the findings – in 140 characters or less.


Related: 10 Authors You Need To Follow On Twitter And Their Strategies Worth Stealing

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