The publishing industry is changing. Literary agents, publishing houses and especially writers are being affected by these changes. Writers are no longer subjugated to the capriciousness of the publishing industry's ever-changing tastes. With the development of social media, we now have the autonomy to write and publish our own work and then allow readers to decide if our work has value. These changes have enabled previously unknown writers and their work to find an audience. And it has given readers the power to decide which work is poor and which is quality.
The words "self-published" and "E-book" are slowly becoming less synonymous with the words "poor quality" and "second-rate." But a major component of benefitting from these changes is the ability to adapt.
I want to thank Eric T. Reynolds, publisher and founder of Hadley Rille Books for sharing his observations of the changes, which he has experienced, in this industry. Please see his article below:
THAT ANCIENT INDUSTRY THAT SUDDENLY WENT OFF ON A TANGENT
When I founded the small press Hadley Rille Books in 2005, I saw glimmers of changes to come, but those changes were not yet well known.
We published our first book in 2006, a hardcover that was offset-printed, the same method that had been used for centuries. I was aware of print-on-demand, but had been advised not to use it even though some small publishers were already using it.
In 2007, we did start using print-on-demand, because I could spend $10,000 on an offset-printed book or I could spend a few hundred to produce a pod edition (which was also much greener than offset-printing since there were no remainders to pulp). But most bookstores hadn’t caught up to that idea and were still more concerned about the pod stigma (because all pod books “were self-published”), never mind the reviews of our books by large, well-respected magazines such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. If the book didn’t come from the Big Six, then it wasn’t worth considering for their bookshelves.
On the other hand, keeping books in pod format allows us to keep them “in print” indefinitely. Our books don’t sell huge numbers when released like a large publisher’s. But since we have a smaller audience, fewer people know about our books initially so the books are still “new” even two years after publication. Over time, we build up a respectable number of sales through our conventional channels.
Marketing took off in a different direction, especially with ebooks. Social media’s role has become more important. Blogging, tweeting, and Facebook have allowed authors to gain a number of friends who can pass along a new book to more people. Book trailers became more popular. Goodreads allows authors to offer specials to encourage people to add their books to “to-read” piles. But these are changing as well. Every month, it seems there’s a new “fad” and people start to abandon what was hot just a couple of months before.
For us in 2010, $9.00 for an ebook was normal. Now, we sell them for $3.99. Free promotions are popular now, including amazon’s KDP Select program, which allows authors to make their books free for a few days. It’s a way to boost the sales rank, but recently amazon split the sales ranks into two: Free Kindle Store and Paid Kindle Store. That high sales rank from the free offer now goes away as soon as the regular price comes back. From my understanding, that wasn’t true a year ago. What’s in this year may not be next year.
I know a self-published author who, two years ago, reported she had sold 50,000 copies of her first book. This is not the norm, but it’s not a surprise that an author with that kind of success has now sold over a 240,000. Sometimes, a large publisher will pick up a book like this, but it’s hard to say whether the author should abandon what’s already working. But even with that kind of success, the author has to continue to keep up with the changes. This might explain the rise in successful self-published authors as well as successes in small press since both can be very adaptable to change.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International