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Old 09-13-2017, 02:02 PM   #16
ZodWallop
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I read an article somewhere this weekend, on some blog, discussing the fact that the big publishers are beginning to drop their midlist authors for some sort of economic reasons. If that's true we'll probably have more and better writers being self-published and going to small publishers in the near future.

Barry
I think I read the same blog you did! Like Darryl said, it was likely Nate's blog.

I do find myself wondering which best selling authors are getting the boot.
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Old 09-13-2017, 07:25 PM   #17
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I think I read the same blog you did! Like Darryl said, it was likely Nate's blog.

I do find myself wondering which best selling authors are getting the boot.
Seems like we have been having this discussion every couple of years since 2007, when it was the fault of the evil publishers and agency pricing. The bottom line is that it's tough making a living as a mid-list author.

Book publishing tends to be very cyclic as genres and sub-genres go in and out of fashion. Authors get stale or have trouble adjusting to the new tastes. It's really not all that uncommon for a mid-tier writer to have a 10-15 year career.
For those who have been reading awhile, how many authors who got their start in the early 80's are still actively publishing new works with the major publishers 20 years later? I have a lot of authors who have one or two series and then kind of disappeared.

The flip side is that as publishing houses were bought out and have consolidated in large mega corporations, the bean counters have a lot more control and companies are looking for more growth than steady profitability. I doubt that very many best selling authors will get the boot, but I'm sure that various formally best seller authors, whose sells have dropped below that magic mark have been.

On the other hand, various publishers are introducing new authors all the time as book sales shift around. Harry Potter started a host of "wizard school" books in the youth market. I've seen SF/F go through a number of cycles - high fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, werewolf and vampire romance, steam punk, military SF and so on. I'm sure the cycles will continue as someone gets hot with some sub-genre and other authors rush to try to ride the wave.
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Old 09-13-2017, 07:28 PM   #18
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Seems like we have been having this discussion every couple of years since 2007, when it was the fault of the evil publishers and agency pricing. The bottom line is that it's tough making a living as a mid-list author.

Book publishing tends to be very cyclic as genres and sub-genres go in and out of fashion. Authors get stale or have trouble adjusting to the new tastes. It's really not all that uncommon for a mid-tier writer to have a 10-15 year career.
For those who have been reading awhile, how many authors who got their start in the early 80's are still actively publishing new works with the major publishers 20 years later? I have a lot of authors who have one or two series and then kind of disappeared.

The flip side is that as publishing houses were bought out and have consolidated in large mega corporations, the bean counters have a lot more control and companies are looking for more growth than steady profitability. I doubt that very many best selling authors will get the boot, but I'm sure that various formally best seller authors, whose sells have dropped below that magic mark have been.

On the other hand, various publishers are introducing new authors all the time as book sales shift around. Harry Potter started a host of "wizard school" books in the youth market. I've seen SF/F go through a number of cycles - high fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, werewolf and vampire romance, steam punk, military SF and so on. I'm sure the cycles will continue as someone gets hot with some sub-genre and other authors rush to try to ride the wave.
Thank you and I love you for subtracting a decade off my age. Early 80's was 30 years ago.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:14 PM   #19
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It's really very simple. Publishing is a business. In the 80's there was effectively no price competition. Now there is. The "fat" is no longer there. This extract from KKR's blog article sets out her perception of their response.

Quote:
The midlist writers had already been cut from the lists, and I expected more midlist writers to get cut. Traditional publishers had long since stopped building writers’ careers, and hoped only for big mega bestsellers.

Traditional publishers had figured out, about 2005 or so, that their current business model worked on hope, not on hard work. They would rather buy a brand-new untested author, lock them up for a two-book contract and hope that those books sold better than the books already in the stable.

That didn’t work, so a lot of careers have been cut short.

But the second-tier bestsellers—I simply expected them to take less money than they had before.

And some of them are. One friend tells me that per book, he makes exactly one-tenth of what he earned ten years ago. He’s writing more and getting paid less. He’s also not getting royalties or subsidiary rights sales, because publishers are licensing everything.
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Old 09-14-2017, 10:38 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by pwalker8 View Post
Seems like we have been having this discussion every couple of years since 2007, when it was the fault of the evil publishers and agency pricing. The bottom line is that it's tough making a living as a mid-list author.

Book publishing tends to be very cyclic as genres and sub-genres go in and out of fashion. Authors get stale or have trouble adjusting to the new tastes. It's really not all that uncommon for a mid-tier writer to have a 10-15 year career.
For those who have been reading awhile, how many authors who got their start in the early 80's are still actively publishing new works with the major publishers 20 years later? I have a lot of authors who have one or two series and then kind of disappeared.

The flip side is that as publishing houses were bought out and have consolidated in large mega corporations, the bean counters have a lot more control and companies are looking for more growth than steady profitability. I doubt that very many best selling authors will get the boot, but I'm sure that various formally best seller authors, whose sells have dropped below that magic mark have been.

On the other hand, various publishers are introducing new authors all the time as book sales shift around. Harry Potter started a host of "wizard school" books in the youth market. I've seen SF/F go through a number of cycles - high fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, werewolf and vampire romance, steam punk, military SF and so on. I'm sure the cycles will continue as someone gets hot with some sub-genre and other authors rush to try to ride the wave.
Yes, yes. No arguments there. I am just curious about this (from the blog):

Quote:
What I didn’t foresee, and should have, was that traditional publishers would cut so many major bestsellers from their lists. Writers who made lots of money for the company had sales declines, just like everyone else.

Rather than negotiate a new contract, their publishers (particularly Penguin Random House) would stall and no longer answer queries about a new deal. Often these writers got new editors (several) along the way, and the new editors wouldn’t return phone calls to writers or their agents.
I'm just curious who some of those authors are.

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Old 09-14-2017, 08:14 PM   #21
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What I found quite interesting was John Grisham's statement that he is selling about half the books he was years ago, yet his books are still at or near the top of the charts. KKR believes this is a good result amongst best sellers. If best sellers are turning over far less books than they would have done in the past, what is the explanation? KKR talks about Grisham being cut back to only his core readers, missing out on those non hard core readers who bought because of convenience and high availability everywhere, at airports for instance. This probably does play a role, but I'm sure there are other reasons.

Are there less readers? Are people reading less? Perhaps, though I rather doubt it. Certainly many of us on Mobileread are reading even more, though we are not of course typical. I suspect the main reason is that there are more readers reading more books, but this increase in demand is far exceeded by the exponential increase in supply. I also think best sellers such as Grisham also suffer from the high ebook prices set by their publishers. Ebooks are discoverable everywhere and immediately available. When you take your ereader to the airport you don't need to buy from a bookshop and their carefully curated selection of paperback blockbusters. There is an Amazon store right there with you. This of course fits in quite well with KKR's reasoning referred to above. Many travellers who just wanted something not terrible to read on the plane who would have visited the airport shop and bought John Grisham's latest on the front table at $15.99 are no longer doing so.

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Old 09-15-2017, 07:00 AM   #22
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Are there less readers? Are people reading less? Perhaps, though I rather doubt it. Certainly many of us on Mobileread are reading even more, though we are not of course typical. I suspect the main reason is that there are more readers reading more books, but this increase in demand is far exceeded by the exponential increase in supply. I also think best sellers such as Grisham also suffer from the high ebook prices set by their publishers. Ebooks are discoverable everywhere and immediately available. When you take your ereader to the airport you don't need to buy from a bookshop and their carefully curated selection of paperback blockbusters. There is an Amazon store right there with you. This of course fits in quite well with KKR's reasoning referred to above. Many travellers who just wanted something not terrible to read on the plane who would have visited the airport shop and bought John Grisham's latest on the front table at $15.99 are no longer doing so.
I have no idea what the real numbers are (and I live in France, where "major publishers" are not the only actors by far - there are lots and lots of small or mid-size publishers), but I'd be surprised, if, at least here, ebook sales were a large part of all book sales. I do see a lot of people (and by that I mean, perhaps one person in 10 or 20) reading ebooks in public transportation, but it's still a small part of the general public. Among people I know (mostly highly educated, probably reading much more than average), maybe one person in 10 owns an e-reader.

So, I'd look somewhere else for reasons why major bestsellers sell fewer books than they (or other major bestsellers) used to - typically, economic reasons. If your reader base is largely composed of people who have less freely disposable income, it is to be expected that they will buy fewer books. People who used to buy, say, 4 or 5 books a year (most likely highly visible - bestsellers) will cut down to 1 or 2.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:35 AM   #23
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So, I'd look somewhere else for reasons why major bestsellers sell fewer books than they (or other major bestsellers) used to - typically, economic reasons. If your reader base is largely composed of people who have less freely disposable income, it is to be expected that they will buy fewer books. People who used to buy, say, 4 or 5 books a year (most likely highly visible - bestsellers) will cut down to 1 or 2.
Thanks Philippe D. Very interesting to hear your impressions from France. I did not take KKR's comments (or John Grisham's comments for that matter) as applying to the European market, with the possible exception of the UK (assuming Europeans still regard it as part of Europe). Fixed publisher set pricing in most countries in Europe have I understand so far largely prevented the price competition which fueled the growth of Amazon and ebooks in the United States. In the English speaking countries there are essentially two markets, one dominated by traditional publishers setting prices for both print and ebooks quite high, and an Indie/Self Publishing market selling at much lower prices. This latter market is taking significant share from traditional publishers, particularly in ebooks. I'm sure that this market exists to a significant extent in Europre.

I'd be interested in your further comments.
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:24 AM   #24
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What I found quite interesting was John Grisham's statement that he is selling about half the books he was years ago, yet his books are still at or near the top of the charts. KKR believes this is a good result amongst best sellers. If best sellers are turning over far less books than they would have done in the past, what is the explanation? KKR talks about Grisham being cut back to only his core readers, missing out on those non hard core readers who bought because of convenience and high availability everywhere, at airports for instance. This probably does play a role, but I'm sure there are other reasons.

Are there less readers? Are people reading less? Perhaps, though I rather doubt it. Certainly many of us on Mobileread are reading even more, though we are not of course typical. I suspect the main reason is that there are more readers reading more books, but this increase in demand is far exceeded by the exponential increase in supply. I also think best sellers such as Grisham also suffer from the high ebook prices set by their publishers. Ebooks are discoverable everywhere and immediately available. When you take your ereader to the airport you don't need to buy from a bookshop and their carefully curated selection of paperback blockbusters. There is an Amazon store right there with you. This of course fits in quite well with KKR's reasoning referred to above. Many travellers who just wanted something not terrible to read on the plane who would have visited the airport shop and bought John Grisham's latest on the front table at $15.99 are no longer doing so.

I think that there are a number of factors. First, there are best sellers and there are best sellers. Big names such as Grisham and King have enough of a fanbase that their newest will almost always show up on the best seller list. That doesn't mean that the latest and greatest is selling as much as their earlier mega hit. That's the difference between popping up on the best seller list for a week or two when the book comes out, and staying on the list for week after week after week, like their earlier books did. That's very normal. Do you think that Dan Brown's Inferno sold anything remotely like The Da Vinci Code did?

Second, I do think there is a big drop in impulse buys for the big name authors. 10 years ago, you had a lot of book stores and news stands selling books and the big name authors had their books placed front and center. As much as some dismiss publisher marketing, I would suggest that book placement had a very big impact with regards to major sells for such authors. They still haven't figured out on line discoverability. Anyone who is in business knows how important discoverability is.

Third, I think that there is a lot more entertainment options to compete with. Books have to compete with video games, binge netflix watching, and a host of other things.
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:36 AM   #25
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Third, I think that there is a lot more entertainment options to compete with. Books have to compete with video games, binge netflix watching, and a host of other things.
Yeah, this is what killed book sales, I think. All those non-readers who would pick up a book when they were stuck in an airport now check Facebook, Pinterest, etc on their phones instead. Just check any airport electrical outlet. That's where all the casual 'airport readers' have gone.
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:42 AM   #26
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Yeah, this is what killed book sales, I think. All those non-readers who would pick up a book when they were stuck in an airport now check Facebook, Pinterest, etc on their phones instead. Just check any airport electrical outlet. That's where all the casual 'airport readers' have gone.
That and being able to connect to the internet while in the air. A lot of people use to buy a casual book for in flight reading. It use to be a choice between watching the inflight movie, sleeping or reading a book.
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Old 09-15-2017, 04:04 PM   #27
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I read compulsively but there have been times when most of what I was reading was online or email rather then published books. There's information, stories(epics) and opinions to be found online for no additional cost and much of it is well worth reading (of course much more is lies, misunderstandings and dreck)
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:10 PM   #28
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I never knew I was rubbing shoulders with a literary pundit
Me neither

The reason for doing that is that my opinions/predictions were quite extreme as compared to the current status quo, and they would have made good click-bait and good ranting material for his comment section.
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:11 PM   #29
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When doing research and you quote or paraphrase from somewhere, you normally credit the writer of the source material. He didn't (doesn't?).
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:27 PM   #30
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I read an article somewhere this weekend, on some blog, discussing the fact that the big publishers are beginning to drop their midlist authors for some sort of economic reasons. If that's true we'll probably have more and better writers being self-published and going to small publishers in the near future.

Barry
In that case, the big 5 publishers, owning hundreds of former smaller publishing houses, will thus only publish the major best-sellers... which will not necessarily be the best books. That way, getting published by a big publishing house will be less and less attainable for new writers.

Taking this situation to the extreme, it will mean that the big publishers will merge into 4 publishers, where there will be new midlist authors that will be dropped, which will make it harder for newer people to be published, lowering the publisher's income because fewer and fewer new books will be published, which will cause them to merge into 3 publishers.... and so on.

In the end, following this rationale, the big 5 will be gone, replaced by hundreds of new small publishers... and we're back in 1900 again, with the exception that there's now an internet which gives everyone access to any book of any publisher, all over the world.
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