Several respected bloggers have begun to back away from self publishing books. They have crunched numbers, which most recently suggest an increase in the percentage of traditionally published books along with a decrease in self published Ebooks this past year. There is a rise in hybrid publishers (authors who do both) and an increase in Ebooks from traditional publishers. What should an author read in to this? I believe, nothing.
Evolution has always stuttered its way forward, with blips and bumps. It is why we still have tails. Because these blips are on a global eonic scale the true overall movement is difficult to discern. Just ask North Californians this year. Drought? What drought? Global warming? What’s that?
Indie publishing reminds me of an oil spill in the ocean. The volume of oil is small at first, doesn’t mix well with water, keeps to its own slick while people try in vain to clean it all up, finally finds its place, settles there and remains forever, slowly accumulating. Each type of publishing serves a different need. There will always be a balance of sorts.
One piece of interesting data crunched was the very high percentage of smart phones used for reading books as opposed to other devices. That struck me as odd at first––those readers must have way better eyesight than me. After some thought, I realized it illustrates the pace of the world with which many people exist. A quick book download while waiting for a flight, flip to the phone when the boss rings, then back to the book until the flight is called. Perfect.
What does this mean to authors? Shorter books, more action, simpler plot lines? Possibly. It also means a lot more books are being read a lot faster. Increased consumption means an increasing need for books.
Another bit of data dealt with the high percentage of time spent marketing versus time for writing for those who publish and market their own books. It’s way out of proportion. Marketing is extremely important to book sales, and it is a lot of work. A benefit of traditional publishing, the pundits suggest, is the marketing arm of the company. They point out no individual author commands the power, influence, and connections available to a publishing company. The publishing company has many more bullets in its gun.
I have two questions. First, for whom are these bullets expended? Probably not the mid-list author––that is, most of us. Second, how much marketing does it require to match the royalty income of the Indie publisher after percentages for agent, publisher, and whatever else are deducted?
The point is, Indie publishing will not go away. There will always be a market––a large market. The door has opened for anyone who ever dreamed of writing to give it a try; that door can never be closed. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.