It’s a fact that predictions, analyzed in retrospect, help shape our understanding of the present and future.
Predictions stir our imagination of what’s possible. In this changing game of traditional or trade publishing versus indie or self publishing, authors must know what they do is in the best interest of their own and the interest of the literary world. We we see how the game is going to change.
Big publishers lower prices – Traditional publishers have always fought tooth and nail to hold the line on ebook prices. This pricing advantage helped many indies out-sell and out-compete the traditional publishers. It helped indies build fan bases at a rapid clip. For indies who could write and publish low-priced books that were as good or better than what New York was publishing, placement in the bestseller lists became more achievable than ever before.
When everyone is pricing $2.99, price promotions will become less effective – If readers have an unlimited supply of high-quality books from their favorite authors at lower price then other factors will play more important role.
Competition increases dramatically – With hundreds of thousands of new books published annually, and with retailer catalogs swelling to carry millions of titles, the competition is going to increase further.
How and Why to Self- Publish Your Book and Ebook
Ebook sales volume will decrease – This will be driven by price declines among major publishers and by the slowing transition from print to screens. Although readers will continue migrating from print to screens, the early adopters have adopted and the laggards will shift more slowly. Another driver of the drop is that the overall book market growth has been moribund for several years. As ebooks as a percentage of the overall book market increase, it means the growth of ebooks will become constrained by the growth and/or contraction of the overall book industry.
Ebook unit market share will increase – The industry-wide sales slowdown, caused by the drop in average prices, will mask the fact that more books will be read than ever before. This is great news for book culture, and good news for indies who despite the loss of their once-powerful price advantage, will still be positioned to profit more from low prices.
It’s all about the writing – It’s back to basics time. In a world where readers face an unlimited quantity of high-quality low-cost works, the writers who achieve the most success will be those who take their readers to the most emotionally satisfying extremes. Books are pleasure-delivery devices. It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing a cookbook, romance novel, gardening how-to, memoir or political treatise. Your job as the indie author is to write that super-fabulous book. That involves great writing and professional-quality editing. It also means avoiding all the mistakes that create unnecessary friction that prevent readers from discovering, desiring and enjoying the book.
All authors become indie authors – Back in the dark ages of publishing, you were either traditionally published or weren’t published. Writers who couldn’t get a publishing deal were seen as failures, because without the access to the publisher’s printing press, distribution and professional know-how, it was virtually impossible to reach readers. Today, failure is not an option. The next generation of writers can begin writing their book with the full confidence that one way or another, it will get published. Traditionally published authors now realize they have desirable publishing alternatives they never had before. Once a writer – any writer – comes to the realization that the power in the publishing industry has transferred from publishers to writers, it opens up a new world of possibilities. Even if you’re a traditionally published author today, you’re an indie author because you decide what happens with your next project.
Subscription ebook services will change the game – If the ebook subscription services – the most notable of which are Scribd and Oyster – can make their business models work, then they’ll drive a game changing shift in how readers value and consume books. For ebook subscription service users, reading will become an abundant resource that feels free.
Traditional publishers will reevaluate their approach to self-publishing – Many indies no longer shop their books to agents and publishers, and instead choose to publish their books directly to readers using self-serve publishing and distribution platforms such as Smashwords, or KDP, Nook Press, and Edupedia Publications. The traditional publishers must recognize that publishing is a service, and that they serve at the pleasure of authors. Now that authors have choices, the publishing game can no longer be about, “What can the author do for the publisher?” Authors no longer need to bow subservient to publishers, so business models based on this old practice and attitude will be rejected. The new publisher mantra must be, “What can the publisher do for the author that the author cannot or will not do on their own?” Publishers need to broaden their author services menu by creating an inclusive business model that allows them to take a risk on every author, to be able to say “Yes” to every author when the prior attitude was to say “No.” Publishers must abandon the culture of “No,” because authors no longer have the patience or tolerance to hear “No.” Authors have choices, and they’ve gained a taste for the joys of self-publishing.
Platform is king – Platform is your ability to reach readers. Authors who can build, maintain and leverage their platforms will have a significant competitive advantage over those who cannot. Think of your platform as a multi-layered infrastructure that allows you to reach both new and existing fans. Elements of this infrastructure include your followings on Twitter, Facebook and the RSS feed of your blog. It includes the breadth of your distribution (more retailers is better than fewer), your uninterrupted presence at each retailer for every book, and the reviews at those retailers. It includes the number of authors who have “favorited” you at Smashwords, or who have added your books to their booklists at Goodreads. It includes subscribers to your private mailing list. It includes your celebrity, and your ability to leverage social media or traditional media or the love of your fans to get your message out. There are two primary factors that drive sales of any product or brand. The first is awareness. If the consumer is not aware of your product or brand, then they cannot purchase it. You need to put your product in front of a consumer and gain their attention before they can consider it. The second is desire. Once a consumer is aware of your product or brand, they must desire it. As I talk about in my Secrets book, the author is the brand. Your job as the author is to build awareness of your brand, and to build, earn and deserve positive desire for your brand. Awareness plus desire create demand for your product. Your platform helps you get the message out to existing fans who already know and desire your brand, and helps you reach new fans who will attach their wagons to your horse. The larger your platform is, the easier it is to grow your platform further, because platforms grow organically.