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View Full Version : Publishing Trends - Any thoughts?



tprevost
02-04-2009, 07:53 PM
I'm a subscriber to Nathan Bransford's blog and he is constantly talking about the changes going on with the publishing industry - especially the rise in self publishing and e-books. I understand that working with such groups as PA is a big no no, but with the major players tightening their belts with the economy and not being as open to new writers, I'm also seeing a rise in self publishers. One friend and collegue mentioned the self publishing services offered by amazon.com. I was just curious about how you all feel about this new trend, and where you think it's heading? With amazon.com being such a reputable company, you do feel that may be a good option for someone who doesn't mind doing the marketing work? Where do you think this rise in self publishing and e-books will take the industry?

Sheryl Nantus
02-04-2009, 08:29 PM
I think it'll put even MORE crap out there.

Everyone seems to think that because they can string a sentence together that they're "entitled" to be published - and thus either fall prey to scams like PublishAmerica who will print anything and less scrupulous publishing outfits with a POD business model that will "publish" your book and then lay the majority of the costs on you, the author. The ratio of crap to good writing is rising and shows no sign of stopping as long as people figure that it's easy to write and that they're entitled to be published because they finished a book or a poem or a single sentence.

e-books - until there's an ebook reader that costs less than $100 I don't see it going anywhere fast. And they resolve the problem of different formats and downloading and DRM.

but that's just me.

:D

Claudia Gray
02-04-2009, 08:55 PM
E-books and self-publishing are two entirely different beasts.

The expansion of self-publishing is going to make it harder for self-publishers to break through, not easier. More people will use it, which means more chaff to sort through in order to find the wheat -- and most readers and bookstores already don't consider that sorting process worth their time. Although there will always be a handful of dedicated people who have a good product and find a window for their work, it's never going to be more than a handful. Even that small group will wind up going with conventional publishers eventually; that's always the "happy ending" to the self-pubbed story.

(Note: In the above, I am talking about books in genres that are not right for self-publishing. The genres that are right for self-pubbing -- local-interest work, complilations or cookbooks sold for charity, etc. -- will continue rolling along happily, though these are not bestsellers nor meant to be.)

E-books are obviously the wave of the future. The Kindle might not be ready to catch up to the iPod, but chances are it won't be long. But conventional publishers are going to be going after a bigger and bigger part of the e-book category, because they have the existing relationships and outreach to do it.

tprevost
02-04-2009, 08:57 PM
I definitely agree that the amount of crap out there will be increased. I swear whenever I tell people that I'm writing a book, the most common response I get is, "I want to do that, too." But just because everyone wants to write a book, doesn't mean that everyone is capable. Writing was much harder than I ever imagined - and I'm still learning something new every single day! That is why places like Absolute Write are so important.

I also agree with the e-books theory you have. My boyfriend just bought me a kindle for Christman (he's a real electronics guy :)), and I'm very excited about using it, but I would never have bought one for myself. It was too much up front. I guess we'll just have to see what the market is doing.

Thanks for the input :D.

Elidibus
02-05-2009, 01:47 PM
Publishing trends be damned! I'm going to write no matter what!

But seriously. Am I the only one that doesn't see this E-publishing going very far? One thing I know about hitting mainstream is to pay attention to the media. I have seen very little media coverage of book readers and even less advertising. Therefore, I have to assume that the kindle won't catch for several more years.

Self publishing won't make it big, either IMVHO. Too much is needed up front, and a lot of people are reeling with this economic thingie happening.

I see writing going into a golden age. With movies costing families 80 bucks and the quality of TV dropping by the second, along with the misery from all this crisis talk, I think people will be more inclined to reach for a good, warm book to pull themselves out of the muck for a few hours. I see a lot more people sending in crap and I see response times taking longer as a result. But the bottom line is, people are going to read. And there's something about holding a book made of paper that's comforting, rather than starting at a blank, grey electronic screen. Not saying they won't jump into mainstream. But it's gonna be a while.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is my deluded, romantic and optimistic view of the world. See my signature for any further questions

:-D

Saskatoonistan
02-06-2009, 01:08 AM
But seriously. Am I the only one that doesn't see this E-publishing going very far? One thing I know about hitting mainstream is to pay attention to the media. I have seen very little media coverage of book readers and even less advertising. Therefore, I have to assume that the kindle won't catch for several more years.

More than 50% of the publishing industry in Asia is courtesy of eBooks - likely because countries like Japan are far more wireless than we North Americans, but give us time. While eBooks make up a fraction of the market in Canada and the United States, they are a growing industry and traditional print publishing is starting to take notice. Sure, there might be more crap out there in the way of self-published work, but YouTube is 99.9% crap and fantastically successful. I agree, once there is an affordable eBook reader for the masses and the format wars are resolved, you'll see people buying into it, but I suspect it will be only based on specific demographic groups. My seventy-five year-old mother who devours about four novels a week loves the library and the social connection offered by going to a Chapter's/Indigo book store. She'll never be an eBook fan. My eighteen year old son, on the other hand, is saving up to buy a Sony e-reader because:

a) "It's really cool, Dad"

b) "I live on the computer and so does my entire generation... deal"

That said, there is peril associated with the emergence of eBooks and that is Gen-Y's inclination to want things free via the web. That will be the huge challenge for eBooks, you know, assuming young people care to read as opposed to text message one another about shoes or how fat so-and-so is.

CheshireCat
02-06-2009, 02:26 AM
That said, there is peril associated with the emergence of eBooks and that is Gen-Y's inclination to want things free via the web. That will be the huge challenge for eBooks, you know, assuming young people care to read as opposed to text message one another about shoes or how fat so-and-so is.

Yep.

And what's already been said about self-publishing. People, as a rule, don't like being disappointed, and with books that certainly holds true. It's bad enough to buy a legitimately published book you believe sucks; it's ten times as bad when the book sucks AND it's riddled with errors and very clearly should never have been "published."

The big problem I see with the "trend" toward self-publishing is that companies are making nice money, while writers who go that route are working their asses off and making virtually nothing. So "publishing" companies will continue to spring up, making it easier and easier for aspiring writers to see their stuff in print, and the market will continue to be glutted, both with the pro stuff and the self-published stuff.

Our pool of potential readers is considerably smaller than that for movies. Sad, but true. The big question is what's going to happen when the drek outweighs the quality books, and readers get impatient with the whole thing.

Do they stop reading entirely? Take a break from reading, planning to try again in X amount of time? Begin to rely on friends or possibly reviewers they trust to filter the books and tell them what they're likely to enjoy?

Are websites akin to eHarmony going to spring up, where readers plug in their likes and dislikes and get back a list of books "pre-selected" based on their criteria?

There will be some kind of filtering mechanism, mark my words on that. Because readers don't like to be burned, and they sure as hell don't like to throw money away.

blacbird
02-06-2009, 03:26 AM
YouTube is 99.9% crap and fantastically successful.

YouTube contains a vast amount of material, because any dipscheiss can moon a camera and post it there. Not exactly how I would define "fantastically successful."

caw

Saskatoonistan
02-06-2009, 03:31 AM
The big problem I see with the "trend" toward self-publishing is that companies are making nice money, while writers who go that route are working their asses off and making virtually nothing. So "publishing" companies will continue to spring up, making it easier and easier for aspiring writers to see their stuff in print, and the market will continue to be glutted, both with the pro stuff and the self-published stuff.


If you use music as a benchmark of where things might potentially go, then yes, just as there are a whack of "indie" bands out there promoting everything from crap to kick ass music, so there will be self-published authors doing the same thing. One thing we do know is the Internet will continue to grow as a venue for good and bad writing. What I think we can count on happening is the large traditional print publishers will buy up any successful e-publishers because they're also buying up the Internet-based infrastructure, the fan base, the titles - everything that e-publishers have been trying to build. I think this will probably make e-publishing become legitimate as opposed to fringe. In short, if it's impossible for a self-published author or an eBook/POD publisher to get their books on the shelves of your local Chapters/Indigo, large publishers buying existing eBook publishers will make it impossible for a self-published author to get their titles noticed by readers who are shopping online. In short, it will all boil down to marketing and who can dominate this new territory the quickest.

Saskatoonistan
02-06-2009, 03:35 AM
YouTube contains a vast amount of material, because any dipscheiss can moon a camera and post it there. Not exactly how I would define "fantastically successful."

It has replaced television for a large swath of Gen-Y. Whether it makes money is debatable, but we can't discount the demographic shift that has gone from watching South Park on TV to watching South Park clips on YouTube. (Television, the last time I looked, is a 500 channel universe where nothing is worth watching. Moreover, reality television is all the rage and YouTube reflects the fact that people want to see reality on their computer screens as well.)

Clair Dickson
02-06-2009, 03:40 AM
That said, there is peril associated with the emergence of eBooks and that is Gen-Y's inclination to want things free via the web.

I've heard this before-- younger generations don't want to pay money, but dang, they'll pay several bucks for a ring tone-- and get new ringtones every couple months, or weeks, or even days. These same kids don't think twice about the cost of sending and receiving each text message. There's something odd going on here...

I do think, thought, that as folks get more used to and comfortable with reading things on computer/blackberry/iPod/etc screens, that there will continue to be a shift towards all things digital.

I wouldn't be surprised, though, to see ebooks become free by way of ads, like the free TV shows that hulu.com and other websites have. They're free because of the ads they show you-- same as TV on the TV. I could see books going that way... I don't know if I'd like it, but it depends on how it's done. (Those stupid little graphics that eat up half by TV show to advertise something-- if I find the person who came up with those, I will shoot him, then drag his halfdead body into the street and run him over. Repeatedly.)

I think the publishing industry will find ways to change and continue with the changes in technology. Just as the publishers figured out how to adopt word processing and marketing. And the death knell of publishing is old. I mean, people have been crying about how things are changing for years. (My local paper has an editorial from 1954 where the writer is complaining about 'kids these days' who don't appreciate 'good literure and music'. =)

shtrum
02-06-2009, 04:10 AM
"Where do you think this rise in self publishing and e-books will take the industry?"

E-books shouldn't make any difference to publishers and authors. Publishers have payroll, profits, hard costs, etc., same as usual. Authors still need royalties. All e-material will find its happy place, same as books.

Printers, on the other hand, will be sol.

Self-publishing is in an excitable phase now, but will flatten out. It may find a home, similar to a YouTube, FlickR, or iTunes (akin to a large-scale e-zine or online lit journal), but i don't see it as a future threat to established publishing. Books require too much effort from both reader and author for self-publishing to reach a dangerous critical mass.

Saskatoonistan
02-06-2009, 04:17 AM
Self-publishing is in an excitable phase now, but will flatten out. It may find a home, similar to a YouTube, FlickR, or iTunes (akin to a large-scale e-zine or online lit journal), but i don't see it as a future threat to established publishing. Books require too much effort from both reader and author for self-publishing to reach a dangerous critical mass.

This is why I honestly can't see a future for sites like Smashwords, etc. I honestly believe that big publishers will buy up any successful eBook/POD publishers and the shelf space those POD publishers and self published authors can't get at your local big box book store will be extended to the Interweb. I wouldn't at all be surprised to also see Amazon buying up successful eBook/POD publishers like Samhain or Siren, etc. They have the infrastructure and fan base already for their authors.

CheshireCat
02-06-2009, 06:06 AM
One thing we do know is the Internet will continue to grow as a venue for good and bad writing. What I think we can count on happening is the large traditional print publishers will buy up any successful e-publishers because they're also buying up the Internet-based infrastructure, the fan base, the titles - everything that e-publishers have been trying to build. I think this will probably make e-publishing become legitimate as opposed to fringe.


I disagree with you on the point about traditional publishers buying up e-publishers. I just don't believe that will happen, mostly because there's been no sign that's even been in their heads. (Otherwise, they would have bought up Amazon back when it began to be a household word.)

No, every publisher I know is trying to get its own e-publishing arm up and running. They're sending memos around about changes in contracts to reflect these "new technologies" they've implemented or plan to implement. They're trying desperately to get every cent of "profit" from e-publishing they possibly can -- with as little cost to themselves as possible.

And that's the main reason I don't see traditional publishers buying up e-publishers; they can't afford it. And since they believe their marketing and promotional expertise is vastly superior to that of any e-publisher, they see no value in the "infrastructure" of e-publishers.

So far, not a single e-publisher has anything like the resources of even a mid-sized traditional publisher.

:Shrug:

Maybe the numbers will change, but right now the "internet market," while it is potentially huge, is so scattered and unorganized -- and contains so much drek -- the traditional publishers don't, as far as I can tell, feel at all threatened.