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Old 03-13-2014, 03:02 PM   #1
fjtorres
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Self-publishing is only going to get bigger: deal with it

From the Booksellers's Association of UK & Ireland:

http://bookseller-association.blogsp...-just-get.html

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Today we face the prospect of drowning in tidal wave self-published eBooks, YouTube videos, photos, independent music videos and tracks etc which are loaded onto sites alongside and often more frequently than traditionally produced works. Historically these self-published works have been regarded by many as substandard works, looked down upon by the traditional marketplace who referred to them by the term ‘vanity publishing’. Some would even still argue that if you can’t get a publisher, producer or third party to publish your work, then it must be of questionable quality and of little value.

Some claim that by 2020 50% of all eBooks will be self-published. We would question that and suggest that it is probably a huge understatement and the figure is more likely to be 75%.
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Michael Kozlowski’s recently advocated that in order to address this that ‘Indie eBooks Need to beSegregated’. We would strongly disagree with this reactive and somewhat naïve approach which is aimed at suppressing creativity. Segregation is a false economics move aimed not at segregating good and bad but at protecting yesterday’s financial model and its bets from the new offerings.
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Some state that the consumer demands quality and that this can only be achieved through the editorial development process. However there are now many consumer viewpoints and values and these often clash with these traditional binary beliefs.
Who would have believed that some low quality YouTube videos would receive the number of viewings they have and gone on to spawn new stars of their own.
Who would have expected the global sensation of ’50 Shades of Grey’ and it now being adapted to mainstream film?
Would we have ever heard ‘Gangnam Style’ without YouTube?
Would performers such as Lilly Allen or the Arctic Monkeys have made it if left to the traditional music business?
One telling point from the music industry experience: From 2000 to 2013, consumer spending on music has dropped from $3.8B to 2.8B (over 25%) yet artists' share of the pot has grown from 14% to 17% (over 20%). Of course, that total consumer spend doesn't include performance or licensing revenue, so when we here about massive drops in music revenues due to digital music, what were are hearing is about drops in the giant multinationals' share of the business.

That is likely to be replicated in the ebook business: lower consumer spend, lower publisher revenue, *higher* author revenues.

For a look at the likely fate of many (non-BPH) publishers, consider what is (deservedly) happening to Harlequin).
http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/...reality-sucks/

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Since 2009, Harlequin’s sales have steadily declined.

2009: $493 million

2010: $468 million

2011: $459 million

2012: $426.5 million

2013: $362 million.

Doing math, which is part of reality, we see an accelerating decrease. Those years coincide with the rise of indie/hybrid/Martian authors. As a member of the Romance Writers of America and a lot of other writers’ groups, I can tell you that RWA, by far, is the most advanced and savvy group of authors around. Surprisingly, SFWA (Science fiction, fantasy writers) is one of the least tech-savvy, business savvy groups. Romance writers have been leading the way in embracing indie publishing. Thus authors who might once have fought for a HQ contract are now doing it themselves. And some very successful romance writers have jumped ship and gone indie. Their defection has not been offset by successful indies going trad.

Add in a second factor: the decline of print sales. Spare me the numbers touted by publishing. Take out your top 5% of authors whose books get brought in to COSTCO on pallets, and print sales are dropping fast. Especially for mass market paperbacks, which is HQ’s bread and butter, much like garbage was the Sopranos bread and butter. We still make a lot of garbage but there is less and less shelf space for print books and more and more readers are going digital.
More at both sources.
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:17 PM   #2
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I'm now firmly convinced that Michael Kozlowski and moonshot are one and the same person. Michael's post (inside jftorres' first link) surprisingly echoes much of what our own moonshot advocates.

Oh, and that Kozlowski post is arrogance piled on top of arrogance.

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If bookstores do not segregate self-published writers their entire ecosystems will be ruined. There will be so many titles listed on their bookstores that you will not be able to casually browse your favorite genre, hoping to find a good read. Take Smashwords for example, what normal human being browses that bookstore to buy and read books? It is a cesspool of poorly edited, poorly written and has no quality or control. These same books are being distributed to every major bookstore, basically creating huge problems. Right now, check out the Amazon bookstore in the Romance section. Even on page 1 is nothing but self-published books, with terrible cover art. These titles need to be culled, ASAP.
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My intention is to change the industry. I mean, you have to admit every year more indie books are published and submitted. This trend will not change, and likely will just keep increasing every year. Every year we encounter new issues, erotica in kids bookstores, POD spam books, robot submitted books, something needs to be done.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:57 PM   #3
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By 2020 50% of all books published will be Indie.

Really? I'm surprised it's not more than this already.
Haven't publishers heard of evolution and survival of the fittest?
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:08 PM   #4
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Well, Kozlowski has the virtue that his vested interest is known.
He is coming from a mid-sized traditional publisher who is looking at the end of the line. He is at real risk from the changed world. More indie publishing means, at a minimum, less submissions.

Others? Not so much.
They just don't like the way the world has changed and want to turn back the clock.
But "the clock" doesn't turn back in the real world.
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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It's just too easy to publish these days...

No matter what you think of self-published books (I think the best are great and the worst are terrible), the truth is the numbers have nowhere to go but up.
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:37 PM   #6
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No matter what you think of self-published books (I think the best are great and the worst are terrible), the truth is the numbers have nowhere to go but up.
Exactly.
It's a fait accompli.
The only question left is how big a bite of the market will go to "Indies, inc".
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:47 PM   #7
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That pioneer of self publishing, J.A. Konrath has a lot to say on SP on his blog. I think traditional publishing has to evolve for sure in the same way that music adapted to iTunes...the movie business is undergoing a change with the advent of super fast broadband and offerings like Netflix.

I am not sure that trad publishing will die entirely...it will have its place. All said and done, trad publishing still dominate the best seller lists.

How trad publishing will evolve is something I have no clue about.
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Lemurion View Post
It's just too easy to publish these days...

No matter what you think of self-published books (I think the best are great and the worst are terrible), the truth is the numbers have nowhere to go but up.
I think that big publishers need to change strategy if they want to keep market share.

Many self-published authors that are big sellers because they write well and are willing to undercut the competition in price or even give away some of their books for free.

I think Baen is one publisher that is making the transition well. They give away the first book of a series, somtimes multiple books in a series and have moved toward e-books more. I think more of the big publishers need to do that where possible. Either give back catalog stuff away for free or competitively priced with the self-published authors.

Still, there is really no way to go back now and many authors really like the self published mode more than working with bureaucracy that comes with the bigger publishers.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:02 PM   #9
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You know what, for the main point I honestly don't care it's going to get bigger.
When I look at the number of books I want to read written by masters and legends of sci-fi and fantasy, all the way from 1940s to present day, I have no inclination or time to dabble with the self-publishing authors. I was born in the 1980s, there's 40 years of publishing to catch up with!

Aside from a few recommendations that come from people who are into the same things as me, for example Blood Song (Raven's Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan or The Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan, both of which were picked up by traditional publisher afterward, I will not be reading self-published fantasy or sci-fi novels.

Oh and if I ever start reading romance, there's a big chance I am possessed by demons.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:06 PM   #10
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You know what, for the main point I honestly don't care it's going to get bigger.
When I look at the number of books I want to read written by masters and legends of sci-fi and fantasy, all the way from 1940s to present day, I have no inclination or time to dabble with the self-publishing authors. I was born in the 1980s, there's 40 years of publishing to catch up with!

Aside from a few recommendations that come from people who are into the same things as me, for example Blood Song (Raven's Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan or The Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan, both of which were picked up by traditional publisher afterward, I will not be reading self-published fantasy or sci-fi novels.

Oh and if I ever start reading romance, there's a big chance I am possessed by demons.
Apart from the fact you're missing the 30's, that's fine.

The best part of self-publishing is that there's something for everyone - both those who want it and those who don't. Besides, those who write it do so for their own reasons, and it's not always for the readers
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:09 PM   #11
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Apart from the fact you're missing the 30's, that's fine.

The best part of self-publishing is that there's something for everyone - both those who want it and those who don't. Besides, those who write it do so for their own reasons, and it's not always for the readers
I think the mistake self publishers make sometimes is not finding their niche and going too mainstream. Most people looking to take a shot on a no name author are probably looking for something specifically outside mainstream.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:14 PM   #12
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Well, there you go, 50 years of catching up! As far as the self-publishing goes then:
Spoiler:


I agree with you on your second point. I actually think that the best way to write a great book is to write it for yourself, and not for the readers.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:20 PM   #13
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Well, there you go, 50 years of catching up! As far as the self-publishing goes then:
Spoiler:


I agree with you on your second point. I actually think that the best way to write a great book is to write it for yourself, and not for the readers.
Well, I've already read a fair chunk of what was published in that period, including the entire decade of the 50's for 3 of the top 4 US SF magazines of the decade.

People make time for what they want. Some want self-published books, others don't. Both choices are fine.

Personally, I've found that since I can easily read 2-3 books in a weekend, the major houses aren't publishing enough stuff in some subgenres to fill my needs. So I try self-published books instead.

It all depends on what you want.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:25 PM   #14
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Yeah I read 3-4 books (1200~ pages) a month. I don't think I'll be running out of traditionally published material any time soon.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:31 PM   #15
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Apart from the fact you're missing the 30's, that's fine.
THE MAN WHO AWOKE, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE/AFTER WORLDS COLLIDE, etc
Early Asimov and Heinlein, DelRey, Lieber, Brown...

There was a lot of quality, seminal SF and Fantasy in the 30's.
And the 20's: ARMAGEDDON 2419, GLADIATOR, SKYLARK OF SPACE, among others.
Somebody had to be first and for many themes and subgenres, it was those guys.
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