Perhaps you don’t realize it (I know I didn’t), but the year 2017 marks a special milestone for the book industry. Amazon released the Kindle, its first e-reader, on November 19, 2007. It sold for US$399 … and sold out in five-and-a-half hours.
As recently as ten years ago, it was a print-centric world. Print books accounted for nearly all book sales, and the traditional publishers controlled the means of production, distribution and sales.
Traditional publishing houses decided which writers actually became published authors; which books would become available for the public to read; which authors would remain in print … and which would be allowed to publish another book.
They were essentially the bouncers of that world.
The brick-and-mortar book retailers placed additional constraints on opportunities for writers. There were 1,000 or more titles competing for every available bookstore space. This hasn’t changed very much.
If anything, given the demise of many big-box retailers, there’s less shelf space now than ever.
Yet, ten years ago the biggest challenges faced by writers weren’t all that dissimilar to the challenges every indie author faces today….
How do I make my books more discoverable to readers?
Publishers assisted authors with editing, print and digital production, translation, pre- and post-publication sales, distribution to retailers, accounts receivables and payments, promotion, tax compliance, sales reporting and analysis, merchandising support and more.
In the last decade, thousands of writers have joined the indie author movement. Self-published books, a significant percentage of them e-books, have taken off, up from essentially nothing a decade ago.
According to one of the latest Bowker Reports (September 7, 2016), more than 700,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2015, which is an increase of an incredible 375% since 2010.
Indies have been drawn by the advantages of self-publishing … faster time to market, complete creative control, pricing and promotion flexibility and the opportunity to earn royalty rates up to five times higher than traditional publishers pay.
Traditional publishers have managed to stay afloat in this worsening marketplace only by shifting more and more marketing responsibility to authors.
Self-publishing has become big business.
Indie authors are now a major force in publishing, and I expect their influence to increase in the years ahead. However, as self-publishers, indies have had to assume responsibility for all the roles once fulfilled by traditional publishers.
As you might expect, thousands of service providers (both good and bad) have popped up to cater to self-published authors. If you’re a service provider, however, it’s not necessarily a winning story.
Publishing Prediction for 2017
Today the market is glutted with service providers competing for the favors of writers. There are too many cover designers, editors, e-book formatters, and book publicists.
In most industries, natural forces bring systems back to a sustainable balance, and indie book publishing is not immune to these natural forces. This is where I see industry consolidation coming.
If you believe as I do that indie authors are the future of publishing, it starts to become clear some form of consolidation is inevitable, because the business opportunity to serve readers by serving authors is so enormous.
It has already begun at Simon & Schuster.
In 2017 we’re likely to see increased merger and acquisition activity as large publishers, retailers, distributors and larger service providers recognize an opportunity to take advantage of the glut to strengthen their indie-author portfolio and grow their businesses.
Despite the challenges writers and publishers face, I believe there’s never been a better time to be a writer, or to be involved in publishing.
Today, you have the freedom, knowledge and tools to chart your own course in this industry. You have the power to support those players who work for you, and to resist those who are working against you.
All you need to do in the meantime is write good books.
My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.
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