A few weeks ago I posted three recent spring transcripts for NPR shows discussing the current paradigm change in publishing. This has been a very controversial subject on the LinkedIn book and poetry forums recently, especially revolving around these three sticky wickets:
- Self publishing
- Social media marketing
eBooks & Self Publishing
Simon & Schuster just made an unprecedented contract to a self-published author letting him keep his self-published eBook rights. Read the story from The Wall Street Journal: "Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores."
Here's an excerpt from the story:
It's a sign of how far the balance of power has shifted toward authors in the new digital publishing landscape. Self-published titles made up 25% of the top-selling books on Amazon last year. Four independent authors have sold more than a million Kindle copies of their books, and 23 have sold more than 250,000, according to Amazon.
Publishing houses that once ignored independent authors are now furiously courting them. In the past year, more than 60 independent authors have landed contracts with traditional publishers. Several won seven-figure advances. A handful have negotiated deals that allow them to continue selling e-books on their own, including romance writers Bella Andre and Colleen Hoover, who have each sold more than a million copies of their books.
Print-only deals remain extremely rare. Few publishers want to part with the fastest-growing segment of the industry. E-book sales for adult fiction and nonfiction grew by 36% in the first three quarters of 2012, compared with the previous year. Mass-market paperback sales shrank by 17% in the same period, while hardcover sales declined by 2.4%, according to a recent report from the Association of American Publishers.
It's worthwhile to read the NPR stories to get the real scoop on self publishing as it's happening right now.
And last week I found another interesting article from Blogcritics on how Barnes & Noble may be crashing for reasons related to the success of self publishing, "How Amazon Killed Barnes & Noble, and Why We Don't Care":
An excerpt from this story:
Barnes & Noble had a better product, a better reputation, and a farther reach than anyone else in the book selling business. The problem was that [CEO Stephen] Riggio misjudged – very badly – how to handle the burgeoning business of self-publishing.
With the advent of epublishing, writers who could never hope to see their books in print could get their work to readers without the time-consuming, and usually fruitless, task of trying to snare an agent, followed by the even more frustrating job of trying to hook a publisher. With epublishing, writers could simply upload a file, set a price, and voila! Instant publication. What's more they could do it anywhere, any time. No deadlines, no delays. An equal draw was that writers who epublished could completely control their work...To add icing to the cake, writers who epublished got to keep 70-80% of their royalties. Compared to the measly 10% (and that was on a good day) meted out by print publishing houses, it was a no-brainer.
This surge in self-publishing, owing in large part to e-books, represents not just people “living the dream,” but an enormous business opportunity for anyone with the ability to turn other people's dreams into their hard cash. Barnes & Noble, with its gentlemanly rules of conduct and brick-and-mortar mentality, simply had no concept of how to corner the market. Amazon did.
For writers, and for Amazon, it is a win-win situation...And for those writers who simply must hold their precious darlings in their hands, Amazon also provides print-on-demand. Amazon’s CreateSpace took first place in the self-publishing world last year with 57,602 new titles. Amazon is happy. Writers are happy. Customers are happy. Everybody is happy.
Except Barnes & Noble. Which is dead.
What's interesting to me about these two stories is how critics will ask you to believe that publishers are making money off people wanting to self publish. And some self publishing sites do charge authors money to hand-hold them through the publishing process.
However, in the case of Amazon's success, it costs their self-published authors zero dollars to publish a CreateSpace paperback book and zero dollars to publish their Kindle book. Nada to distribute that book via Amazon and only $25 for extra distribution through Broker. All that money Amazon made recently at the expense of Barnes & Noble is from book sales.
And that's a paradigm shift. But one that makes everything more interesting and challenging for both traditional publishers and self publishers. Because these new successes and changes don't guarantee a hit for anyone.
Social Media Marketing
Whether you self or traditionally publish, you need to learn how to market yourself. Most published authors I speak to are telling me they get little marketing help from their publishers. Doing your own publicity is a skill you must learn in today's publishing world in either case.
It's hard for me to dismiss social marketing as some writers seem to want to do. Having worked
in the corporate world and in marketing departments, I've seen how
social marketing is a huge part of every business and artist's strategic
plan. And that's just growing every day. If statistics didn't play out
positive returns, I'm telling you they wouldn't do it.
A lot of people tune out traditional marketing AND new marketing; a lot of people don't. The brilliance of social marketing is that it works almost entirely by word of mouth, a architecture that should suit the way readers buy books. But that doesn't mean it will work for everybody.
They say that writing your next (good) book is the best marketing one can do.