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dgaughran
05-08-2011, 06:38 PM
In the last couple of months, self-publishing has really broken out into the mainstream.

Itís not unusual now to see a television news report or an article in the Financial Times on an self-publishing bestseller who has just snagged an agent or signed a trade deal, or coverage of the self-publishing scene in general.

Even so, some self-publishers complain that they donít get respect from the trade publishing community, that they are treated with disdain or condescension.

Many self-publishers tried for years to get published in New York and London and failed. Others were screwed around by agents or editors, or simply didnít sell enough books (for whatever reason), and were cut loose by their publisher.

There can be a lot of bitterness and resentment in this group which can lead to quite militant views, openly calling for the demise of traditional publishing. Personally, I find this over the top, but I can understand where these feelings come from.

There has been a lot of heated discussions, spats, and bickering on this forum with trade published authors on one side, and self-publishers on the other. But it shouldnít be like this. We are all on the same side.

But what some trade published writers (and those that aspire to be) donít realise is that the rise in self-publishing is good for all writers.

Let me explain.

Some writers simply have no interest in self-publishing. They donít want to learn the new skills necessary, they have little or no interest in e-books, and they canít imagine operating without the support network a trade deal provides.

Many doubt they could hire people to do as professional a job on their book as a trade house does, and some simply donít have the time (or resources) to set themselves up as a self-publisher.

Others point to the fact that print is still over 70% of the market, and if there is one thing that trade houses do exceptionally well, itís sell lots and lots of print books to bricks-and-mortar stores.

And a lot have doubts about how many books they could sell on their own.

Thatís fine, these are all valid reasons for sticking with trade publishing.

In fact, in the short term at least, I think the most successful writers will be those that combine self-publishing and trade-publishing to maximise both their income and their exposure to all sectors of the market.

I think most self-publishers would consider a trade deal, depending on the terms, and I think a lot of trade published writers have thought of self-publishing on some level, or at the very least are keeping an eye on developments.

However, some trade published writers are dead against it, and cringe at the thought of it. They react negatively to every ďgood newsĒ story about self-publishing, and are wary that the rise in the popularity of e-books will only swell the self-publishing ranks.

But what a lot of these writers donít realise is that the rise in self-publishing is good for them too.

If you are a trade published writer, and have no interest in self-publishing, the rise in self-publishing is good for you. If you are an aspiring writer, and have no interest in going it alone, and only desire to be published by a trade house, the rise in self-publishing is good for you too.

Why? Leverage.

Every writer knows that when your agent is on submission with your book, itís almost always best to have a number of offers on the table. Once there is more than one offer, terms tend to get better as the agent plays the houses against each other to get the best deal. Thatís their job. Thatís business.

In every negotiation you have from now on with your publishing house, they will know that you now have another option Ė self-publishing.

Even if it is one you never intend on exercising, they donít know that. All they know is that more and more writers are considering it, and will continue to do so as the e-book market grows.

Clever agents are already using this in negotiations.

Before, the writer with only one offer was faced with a difficult choice. Accept the crummy offer on the table, or risk losing it by going on another round of submissions.

And, of course, a smaller-than-hoped for advance translates into a smaller print run and smaller promotional push Ė a death spiral that makes the job of selling enough books to get a better deal next time very difficult.

But this has all changed. Now, each time a writer or agent enters into talks with a publishing house, their hand is automatically strengthened by the rise in self-publishing.

Publishers know that writers can earn up to four times the royalties on their own. Publishers know that there are more ways than ever for writers to produce professional books and get them into the hands of readers. Publishers know that self-publishing is on the way to becoming a viable, potential option for any writer.

This is good for all writers. Every trade published writer will always have one extra ďofferĒ on the table, and can use this as leverage. And the more offers you have, the better chance you have to get a good deal.

Itís great time to be a writer.

leahzero
05-08-2011, 07:48 PM
Interesting way of looking at it, David.

I'm curious, though: do publishers really consider self-publishing as a sort of invisible offer on the table for authors? Is self-publishing really exerting any pressure on traditional deals?

The majority of these self-publishing mega-success stories involve selling lots of ebooks at extremely low prices (often $.99 - $1.99). Because no one else is getting a cut of this except for the digital distributor (and the taxman), the author ends up seeing more money than a typical advance from a trad pub.

But can the 99-cent ebook model last? It's reminiscent of the iTunes model in many ways, and iTunes is great for big rights management firms, but not so great for indie musicians. The more content (books, music, etc.) you have to sell at rock-bottom prices, the more successful you'll be under the iTunes model. But indies who can't mass-produce (or aggregate/manage the rights of) lots of content don't do so well. For small indie producers, it's a wash.

What's especially telling to me is that many of the mega-success self-pub stories involve authors who sell a lot of titles simultaneously. Selling one ebook for 99 cents a copy is not a magic shortcut to success, but selling half a dozen at that price point? That's about as much as the big pubs charge for a single book, and you have (theoretically) none of the associated costs.

And to me, this just looks like the beginnings of a publishing industry forming again. Early adopters find success due to various factors, but once the marketplace overflows with cheap content, independents and low-output producers can't keep up, and organized business forms to buy up that content and resell it.

Just some thoughts.

shadowwalker
05-08-2011, 08:11 PM
they have little or no interest in e-books

And how does that equate with not wanting to self-publish? Please don't go down that path.


Clever agents are already using this in negotiations.

You know this because... ?


Publishers know that writers can earn up to four times the royalties on their own.

And that it will take the SP how long? to earn what the publishing house paid out in advances, and doesn't count the cost of getting the book out there. (Just a couple caveats that need to be mentioned.)


Publishers know that there are more ways than ever for writers to produce professional books and get them into the hands of readers. Publishers know that self-publishing is on the way to becoming a viable, potential option for any writer.


Publishers also know that writers who are happy with their current publishers are not likely to jump ship, and I would venture to say that's most writers. (The newsmakers are the exceptions - that's what makes them newsworthy.) Publishers also know that chances are writers prefer to be writers, not publishers, and that many are very good writers and not very good publishers.

Any increase in self-publishing may be somewhat advantageous to writers who are unhappy with their current publisher. Or for those who want to get their older stuff recirculating. But otherwise I don't think it's going to make a huge difference to commercial publishers or writers who go with them. I just don't think it's that much of a 'threat factor', which is what you seem to be implying.

ResearchGuy
05-08-2011, 08:15 PM
. . . Publishers know that writers can earn up to four times the royalties on their own. . . . .
Incurring costs -- often very large -- in cash and time in the process, and usually with no trade distribution.

--Ken

Medievalist
05-08-2011, 08:20 PM
In every negotiation you have from now on with your publishing house, they will know that you now have another option Ė self-publishing.

It might make a tiny, newly-fledged indie publisher with a single author responsible for most of their sales, quake, but I doubt even that.

Publishers will politely smile, or shrug off such threats.

Clever agents are already using this in negotiations.

Names please? What agents?

Writer'sNotes
05-08-2011, 08:41 PM
Note: Composing this post when only the first two appeared on the thread.

Both of your posts raise a number of great points.

In my opinion, though, I think it's a bit early to be touting self publishing as a full-scale revolution in books. As I'm finding out (though, David, you've had more success with the model than I have and might have grounds to disagree with this), $0.99 is quickly becoming a cliche in the publishing world and is nowhere near enough to get lasting market interest without something else going for the book. As I research more into the issue, seeing what I can do to try to increase sales, I've found most, if not all successful $0.99 authors, do have marketable books and are quite skilled at online marketing and social networking. Most are promoting hours and hours a day, constantly seeking out ways to make their book stand out from the masses of new Kindle titles pouring in. And now some of these titles are from more established, midlist to best selling authors with audiences, who may not be selling at $0.99 but are keeping their work low-priced anyway to compete with higher priced competition. These are the authors who I think may be the next successful wave of self-publishers, seeking to emulate the Konrath model.

I do think this is pointing the way to the future of marketing (to the present, really), which is why so many sites, designers, and companies profit off of those seeking to be the next Kindle success story. Like leahzero, I don't see it affecting the overall model too much. Sizable publishers are able to charge nearly twenty a book for brand names have proven their clout, and it's up to Amazon to see if it can successfully market and build names too. Until Amazon can grow into their publishing ambitions more, the major publishers still have the ball in their court when it comes to branding. Publishing is complex now and full of opportunity for the skilled, the lucky, and the persistent. But I don't think it's an invisible offer either for authors to hold over traditional publishers. What authors have to show first is that they can find a market; that's what's of value to publishers, not the self-publishing option itself. As more and more Kindle authors emerge, it's just going to get that much more competitive, which plays (in my opinion) to the advantage of traditional publishers, who can just pick and choose from the successful authors and who can still provide most of those authors with a larger platform for success. In the end, the big media / internet companies (including publishing conglomerates) win either way. Sorry to sound bleak. Just one opinion.

entropic island
05-08-2011, 08:43 PM
An optimistic take, but perhaps not too realistic of one.

Self-publishing has seen a great rise in popularity recently, it seems to me, because of a few recent success stories. But this rise in popularity will just make it harder to get noticed and I think almost all professional authors will consider conventional publishing a better option, both money wise and opportunity wise.

And they'd be right.

dgaughran
05-08-2011, 08:57 PM
And how does that equate with not wanting to self-publish? Please don't go down that path.


E-books are currently 29.5% of the trade market. This figure is much, much larger in the self-publishing world. If you have no interest in reading e-books, writing e-books, producing e-books, or promoting e-books, then that will be a factor in your decision whether you want to self-publish or not.



You know this because... ?


I read a discussion on this a few days ago - give me a bit and I will dig out the link. But it's pretty obvious, no?



And that it will take the SP how long? to earn what the publishing house paid out in advances, and doesn't count the cost of getting the book out there. (Just a couple caveats that need to be mentioned.)


Caveats accepted. I didn't mention them because it's pretty obvious and not exactly germane to the discussion. I meant "four times the royalty rate". Actual sales could be lower or higher depending on any number of factors (usually lower), but that's not particularly relevant here.



Publishers also know that writers who are happy with their current publishers are not likely to jump ship, and I would venture to say that's most writers. (The newsmakers are the exceptions - that's what makes them newsworthy.) Publishers also know that chances are writers prefer to be writers, not publishers, and that many are very good writers and not very good publishers.


I don't think either of us are in a position to say how many writers are happy with their publishers or not, but that's not the point. I'm sure a lot of writers would like a better deal than what they are getting, which is the point.

It may be true that most writers prefer to be writers and that many would not be very good publishers, but there are plenty of companies that will take care of the whole lot for a flat fee, if that's what the writer prefers. John Locke, for example, does this.



Any increase in self-publishing may be somewhat advantageous to writers who are unhappy with their current publisher. Or for those who want to get their older stuff recirculating. But otherwise I don't think it's going to make a huge difference to commercial publishers or writers who go with them. I just don't think it's that much of a 'threat factor', which is what you seem to be implying.

So you don't think Barry Eisler walking away from a trade deal made any publisher wonder if one of their writers would be next? You don't think that there are any writers out there who have hinted that they could self-publish to get a better deal? You don't think one agent has threatened to help their client publish his own work unless they got better terms?

ResearchGuy
05-08-2011, 08:57 PM
. . . Names please? What agents?
I must ask my literary agent friends. And trade-published writer friends, for that matter.

I am pretty sure they would scoff.

--Ken

dgaughran
05-08-2011, 09:01 PM
It might make a tiny, newly-fledged indie publisher with a single author responsible for most of their sales, quake, but I doubt even that.

Publishers will politely smile, or shrug off such threats.


Names please? What agents?


As I said to shadowwalker, I'll dig out the link. But I'll ask you the same question. You don't think one agent has threatened to help their client publish his own work unless they got better terms?

Sonia Land already did this in the UK - and talked about it openly - there are plenty more, I'll find the links.

dgaughran
05-08-2011, 09:03 PM
Incurring costs -- often very large -- in cash and time in the process, and usually with no trade distribution.

--Ken

I accept that Ken, I was referring to the royalty rate. I wasn't as clear as I could have been.

Medievalist
05-08-2011, 09:03 PM
I must ask my literary agent friends. And trade-published writer friends, for that matter.

I am pretty sure they would scoff.

--Ken

It's what I'm hearing, even from the non-fiction consumer crowd.

What's interesting about that, is I think that niche non-fiction is one of the places where self-publishing can do fabulously well, far better than commercial.

ResearchGuy
05-08-2011, 09:04 PM
. . . You don't think that there are any writers out there who have hinted that they could self-publish to get a better deal? . . .
IMHO, most would be laughed at if they tried, or advised not to let the door hit their backsides on the way out.

But I must discuss with my agent friends . . .

--Ken

ResearchGuy
05-08-2011, 09:06 PM
. . . niche non-fiction is one of the places where self-publishing can do fabulously well, far better than commercial.
Exactly so, and my best examples right here in River City. (Karl Palachuk and Alton Pryor and Bill Teie being among my favorites.)

Naida West, historical novelist and publisher, is an outlier in fiction, I believe.

--Ken

kaitie
05-08-2011, 09:11 PM
Some writers simply have no interest in self-publishing. They donít want to learn the new skills necessary, they have little or no interest in e-books, and they canít imagine operating without the support network a trade deal provides.

You know, it could seriously just be the way I'm reading this, but that first line bothered me a little. For me, it has less to do with not wanting to learn the skills necessary, but whether or not I would be realistically able to gain those skills (or hire them out) at a level that would be comparable to or better than a commercial publisher could do with it's teams of professionals who have learned for years or been training with people who have done it for years. This makes it sound as if people opposed to self-publishing are just too lazy to learn. I could just as easily say, "People interested in self-publishing just don't want to learn how to write better so they can be commercially published." While I think that in some cases it's essentially true (we've all met golden word writers), I wouldn't put it this way because it seems rude and is misleading.

I also think that a lot of people who do choose to pursue self-publishing never bother to learn the things required to do it successfully as well, which is why so many of the books fail.



Many doubt they could hire people to do as professional a job on their book as a trade house does, and some simply donít have the time (or resources) to set themselves up as a self-publisher.

I think this is a lot more accurate, at least in my case.



In fact, in the short term at least, I think the most successful writers will be those that combine self-publishing and trade-publishing to maximise both their income and their exposure to all sectors of the market.

I definitely see this happening as well. I know that, personally, I'd consider self-publishing a backlist of books that had gone out of print. I think in some ways it opens a lot of doors for writers.



Why? Leverage.

Every writer knows that when your agent is on submission with your book, itís almost always best to have a number of offers on the table. Once there is more than one offer, terms tend to get better as the agent plays the houses against each other to get the best deal. Thatís their job. Thatís business.

In every negotiation you have from now on with your publishing house, they will know that you now have another option Ė self-publishing.

I think there's a bit to what you're saying, but at the same time, not as much as you'd think. I think if Stephen King said to his publisher, "You know, I can get 70% self-publishing. How about we negotiate some better royalty rates here or I'm leaving" it might give the author some room to maneuver, but I don't really see most publishers feeling it's enough of a threat to actually make decisions based on it.

First of all, most books are still sold via bookstores, so any author who switches to an ebook only format is going to face a hit on sales. Yes, they'll make it up in royalties (one would hope), but if you want to keep selling books, you want to have those books available in as many places as possible. I think a lot of authors know that and aren't willing (yet) to risk a huge drop in sales, particularly when commercial publishing hits both paper and ebook markets.

Second, most authors are kind of small potatoes. I'm not trying to say that in a rude way, and I could be wrong (I'm not in the industry so I'm sure someone will correct me if I am). I mean, if a new author comes out and says, "Well I could go with you, or I could self-publish and get 70% so give me more money," I could kind of see a publisher just laughing. A new author self-publishing without all of the benefits of the commercial publisher is not likely to sell nearly as many books as they would have sold otherwise. Yes, you have those occasionally success stories, but there is just so much stacked against them that they aren't likely to really sell that many books. There's a reason that publishers aren't feeling threatened by self-publishing in general and never have. I kind of think from their perspective, it wouldn't be a negotiating tool so much as something that makes them say "If you really think you'll sell as many books self-publishing and are willing to give up your advance and all this other stuff to try, you're making a mistake." And honestly, I think most authors with a deal in hand wouldn't be willing to risk it, either. I mean, if someone was offering to pay me money on a book, I sure as hell wouldn't say, "If you don't give me the terms I want I'm going to give up the money you're going to give me and then pay a couple of thousand dollars at minimum to do it on my own and hope to recoup it."

I think this kind of thing is more of a threat for authors with a highly established presence who know they can sell hundreds of thousands of books on their own. And considering those are the cash cows for the publishing industry, there's more incentive on their end to hold on to these authors.



Even if it is one you never intend on exercising, they donít know that. All they know is that more and more writers are considering it, and will continue to do so as the e-book market grows.

Clever agents are already using this in negotiations.

Is this for real? I mean, have you seen this? I know a lot of agents were bargaining for better royalties early on, but I haven't seen anything about agents doing this right now (and I read a lot of industry stuff). I'm sure it might be happening, but I'd like to know the circumstances. I have a harder time seeing someone making the argument--especially an agent--for a no-name first-time author.

In fact, what would the agent get out of it? I mean, unless they've worked out an arrangement whereby they're getting paid for the self-published works as well, what do they gain? Would an agent really threaten to give up an advance (ie their paycheck) in order to encourage the author to self-publish instead when they might not ever see any of that? Especially considering how much lower sales are likely to be? Would a publisher take that kind of threat seriously, or know it was just a bluff?



Before, the writer with only one offer was faced with a difficult choice. Accept the crummy offer on the table, or risk losing it by going on another round of submissions.

Why the initial assumption that the offer will be crummy? Because most first-time authors don't get more than $10,000 for a book? If that? Royalty rates are pretty much standard. Agents are there to negotiate contracts in order to make the terms more author-friendly. In fact, I've even seen an agent outright tell an author not to take a contract that had non-negotiable terms in it that weren't in the author's favor. So if we assume that the agent is able to do his job and will get the bad terms negotiated to better terms, and if royalty rates are pretty much standard across the board, then the only thing being negotiated is the advance, and we already know that advances negotiated by agents are generally more than 15% higher than the originally offered amount...

Basically, I just don't see how most authors would be faced with a "crummy" contract because they only have one. Sure, if a book goes to auction you'll make more money from it, but most books don't, and there are actually risks in getting a bigger advance as well.



And, of course, a smaller-than-hoped for advance translates into a smaller print run and smaller promotional push Ė a death spiral that makes the job of selling enough books to get a better deal next time very difficult.

And a large advance translates into a lot of pressure for the book to sell really big to earn out the advance, which means more marketing push and what not (which is good) but if the author doesn't sell big she's screwed. A smaller print run and promotional push and what not doesn't mean the author won't be able to sell enough books to be considered for a second. It can happen, and of course there are books that get lost in the shuffle and are at a disadvantage as a result, but an author's success, particularly a first-time author, is not dependent on how big the advance was, and a lot of times bigger is not necessarily better.



But this has all changed. Now, each time a writer or agent enters into talks with a publishing house, their hand is automatically strengthened by the rise in self-publishing.

Publishers know that writers can earn up to four times the royalties on their own. Publishers know that there are more ways than ever for writers to produce professional books and get them into the hands of readers. Publishers know that self-publishing is on the way to becoming a viable, potential option for any writer.

But it isn't yet. And it may not be. When POD books first came out, the exact same kind of talk was going on. The news was filled with stories about this new technology and how it was going to revolutionize publishing and how big publishing companies would go the wayside and how it would equalize the playing field and everyone would be able to publish.

It was the exact same thing, and we see how that turned out. We have no idea what's going to be happening in terms of self-publishing in five years. Honestly, my guess is that it's going to be a lot less revolutionary than people expect. It might be easier for a few people to have success, but for the average person? I just don't see it being as big as people are saying.

And the fact of the matter is not any author can self-publish successfully. Authors good at social networking and authors with money might be able to find success. Oh yeah, and they need to be incredibly skilled because no matter how much money and networking goes into it, if you can't write a sentence or your stories are boring and have no plot, it won't matter. But what about the great author who is really poor and can't afford to pay an editor and cover artist? What about the really great author who sucks at social media and can't write a blog to save his life? What about the really good author who works full-time and has four kids who manages to squeeze a couple of hours of writing time in every day but has no time for anything else?

Theoretically every author has a chance, but realistically that's not the case at all.

And when self-publishing hasn't yet proven itself as a viable method for any author, why would the big publishers really take it seriously?



This is good for all writers. Every trade published writer will always have one extra ďofferĒ on the table, and can use this as leverage. And the more offers you have, the better chance you have to get a good deal.

Itís great time to be a writer.

I just don't see this as having the kind of leverage you mean. Maybe, maybe someone could get some more favorable royalty rates, but considering royalty rates are pretty much standard across the board, it's not like you're going to convince a publisher to give you 50% or 60% or 70% by saying "if you don't I'll sell my book on Amazon without you." And what's the point of offering a higher advance? It's not like you have another advance on the table to compete with. It's not like Random House is standing there saying, "I'll give you twenty thousand" and S&S is saying "I'll give you thirty!" and then Random House is like "Oh shit, we'd better up our game if we want this guy."

You're saying, "Give me more money on the assumption that I'll make more than that on my own." And there's no guarantee, not even close to a guarantee that it will happen.

The fact of the matter is, a good agent is going to be able to negotiate better terms and a better advance without putting self-publishing on the table at all. And yes, I'd sure as hell hope my agent would back away from a bad deal. I mean, the entire art of negotiation is based around the idea that the agent and author will say, "No, I'll take my chances elsewhere," right?

I think that for a big famous author with a lot of negotiating power based on name (and sales record) alone could pull this off. I don't really see how it's all that beneficial for anyone else, though.

kaitie
05-08-2011, 09:18 PM
I don't think either of us are in a position to say how many writers are happy with their publishers or not, but that's not the point. I'm sure a lot of writers would like a better deal than what they are getting, which is the point.


But who wouldn't? I mean, if I get $100k for a book, I could have gotten $200k, or $500, or a million, and that would have been better for me, right? I mean, people are always going to want a better deal if possible, in the same way that most people would love to be getting paid an extra $20k from their jobs at work. The fact of the matter is, wanting more doesn't necessarily mean people aren't satisfied, either.

I want to be the next Dean Koontz and sell millions of copies world-wide, but I'd be satisfied with selling a book or two to commercial presses and making five figures from them. Hell, I'd probably be satisfied with even less than that lol. And really, big money should come from sales, IMO. If my book becomes a runaway success and has to go back to print four times, then I've earned that. If it sells ten thousand copies and that's it, I don't think I should have a "better" deal, you know?

What I want is a contract that doesn't screw me and to get paid. It doesn't have to be enough to pay off my student loans or let me quit my day job, especially not on the first book.

Conversely, one could also say that most self-published authors want more success than they find. The fact of the matter is, anyone can always look at any situation and say, "Man that could have been better."

ETA: About Barry Eisler and these other deals you're talking about--again, he's not a no-name author. Might it make them worry about losing their big name authors? Maybe so. Will it even make a dent for a first-time writer or one that's not a huge bestseller? I'll have to see evidence of that.

dgaughran
05-08-2011, 09:22 PM
I'm curious, though: do publishers really consider self-publishing as a sort of invisible offer on the table for authors? Is self-publishing really exerting any pressure on traditional deals?


Hi Leah - let me flip the question back to you. You don't think publishers take notice when Barry Eisler walks away from a $500,000 advance to self-publish? I'm sure that the situation will vary depending on the writer, but it must be a factor in some discussions with some of their writers.

Imagine this. You have a solid mid-list writer who is already self-publishing some of her backlist but still using a trade publisher for new releases. Her advances (and sales) have remained reasonably steady over the last few books, and everyone is reasonably happy with the way things are going. You don't think the rise in self-publishing is going to make the agent ask for a little more in the next deal?



But can the 99-cent ebook model last? It's reminiscent of the iTunes model in many ways, and iTunes is great for big rights management firms, but not so great for indie musicians. The more content (books, music, etc.) you have to sell at rock-bottom prices, the more successful you'll be under the iTunes model. But indies who can't mass-produce (or aggregate/manage the rights of) lots of content don't do so well. For small indie producers, it's a wash.


I have no idea what price points are going to be successful in the future, there are way too many variables.

For example, if Amazon changed their royalty structure and started paying a lower rate at that price point, I think you could see a lot of price rises. On the other hand, if Smashwords ever managed to do a deal with Amazon (they have been trying for a while now), then there could be a huge surge at that price point as Smashwords pay around 20 cent more royalties at that point.

The market as a whole is too young to make hard-and-fast judgements on successful pricing strategies, but different authors have had success at higher prices too.



And to me, this just looks like the beginnings of a publishing industry forming again. Early adopters find success due to various factors, but once the marketplace overflows with cheap content, independents and low-output producers can't keep up, and organized business forms to buy up that content and resell it.


I'm sure that trade publishing will survive in one form or another. But I would also bet on the slice of the pie that self-publishing has will grow too.

dgaughran
05-08-2011, 09:24 PM
IMHO, most would be laughed at if they tried, or advised not to let the door hit their backsides on the way out.

But I must discuss with my agent friends . . .

--Ken

Do you think Andrew Wylie was laughed at? Sonia Land?

BenPanced
05-08-2011, 09:45 PM
Some writers simply have no interest in self-publishing. They donít want to learn the new skills necessary, they have little or no interest in e-books, and they canít imagine operating without the support network a trade deal provides.

And how does that equate with not wanting to self-publish? Please don't go down that path.

E-books are currently 29.5% of the trade market. This figure is much, much larger in the self-publishing world. If you have no interest in reading e-books, writing e-books, producing e-books, or promoting e-books, then that will be a factor in your decision whether you want to self-publish or not.
That's all well and good, but you are still equating self-publishing with e-books. Self-publishers don't always release e-books, and e-books aren't always self-published.

As has been hammered out again and again in this section.

ResearchGuy
05-08-2011, 09:49 PM
Do you think Andrew Wylie was laughed at? Sonia Land?
Who are they?

--Ken

Old Hack
05-08-2011, 09:50 PM
Itís not unusual now to see a television news report or an article in the Financial Times on an self-publishing bestseller who has just snagged an agent or signed a trade deal, or coverage of the self-publishing scene in general.

Please provide links to the articles you've found in the FT, as I'd like to read them. Thanks.


Others point to the fact that print is still over 70% of the market, and if there is one thing that trade houses do exceptionally well, itís sell lots and lots of print books to bricks-and-mortar stores.

You seem to be equating print books with trade publishing and e-books with self publishing. Both formats are found in both sides of the business. And trade publishing doesn't hope to sell its books to bookshops: it aims to sell its books to readers.


In fact, in the short term at least, I think the most successful writers will be those that combine self-publishing and trade-publishing to maximise both their income and their exposure to all sectors of the market.

Do you really think that J K Rowling will move to self-publishing? Or Jodi Picault? Or any of the authors who regularly receive advances which are measured in the millions?


In every negotiation you have from now on with your publishing house, they will know that you now have another option Ė self-publishing.

This is not necessarily the strong bargaining tool you seem to think it is.


Clever agents are already using this in negotiations.

Cite your sources. I've discussed this with several excellent agents recently and not one was doing so.


Before, the writer with only one offer was faced with a difficult choice. Accept the crummy offer on the table, or risk losing it by going on another round of submissions.

Or let your agent improve the offer with a bit of expert negotiation. It's what agents do.


Publishers know that writers can earn up to four times the royalties on their own. Publishers know that there are more ways than ever for writers to produce professional books and get them into the hands of readers. Publishers know that self-publishing is on the way to becoming a viable, potential option for any writer.

Publishers also know that you've just written a load of empty rhetoric. Put it into context with some sources, a bit of background data, some proof, and I might start to pay attention.


And to me, this just looks like the beginnings of a publishing industry forming again. Early adopters find success due to various factors, but once the marketplace overflows with cheap content, independents and low-output producers can't keep up, and organized business forms to buy up that content and resell it.

I'm already seeing self-publishing collectives forming to sell their books. They have strict quality-control policies when it comes to who can join: you might just call them gatekeepers.


Any increase in self-publishing may be somewhat advantageous to writers who are unhappy with their current publisher. Or for those who want to get their older stuff recirculating. But otherwise I don't think it's going to make a huge difference to commercial publishers or writers who go with them. I just don't think it's that much of a 'threat factor', which is what you seem to be implying.

Agree.


You don't think one agent has threatened to help their client publish his own work unless they got better terms?

Sonia Land already did this in the UK - and talked about it openly - there are plenty more, I'll find the links.

I had dinner with an agent from Sheil Land a few weeks ago.

It's true that Sheil Land has recently published electronic versions of Catherine Cookson's books under its own imprint; but it wasn't done as a threat to trade publishers, as you seem to imply; there was no other offer on the table, as far as I'm aware; and the books concerned aren't new titles, they're established best-sellers with an inbuilt readership. Very few writers have the same standing as Ms Cookson; therefore this comparison isn't really valid for most writers.

scope
05-08-2011, 10:22 PM
If you are saying that anyone, regardless of knowledge or abiltity, can become a SP'ed ebook writer, you are right. But so what?

Forgetting the handful of well known writers who have done so, and even that's open to discussion, do you really think trade houses will feel threatened that this is an option for the average published writer and/or unpublished writer? And why do you dismiss (that is, not even mention) the idea that writers may soon be able to realize more money by allowing trade publishers to tap into the ebook market in a more aggressive manner than in the past? I don't see a future where they merely will sit by and allow independent writers and/or ebook companies to take away what may be a significant profit stream, and a form of publishing which in the end they can do best.

kaitie
05-08-2011, 10:24 PM
I linked in another thread somewhere an article talking about how the major publishers have all had increased profits in the past year, and RH had a 250% increase in profits from ebooks. The big publishers are certainly in the game. I'm not sure where this idea that they're way behind and missing out is coming from.

movieman
05-08-2011, 10:29 PM
That's all well and good, but you are still equating self-publishing with e-books. Self-publishers don't always release e-books, and e-books aren't always self-published.

But ebooks make up the vast majority of self-published fiction sold, because that's the only way for the average self-publisher to get their book on the same 'bookshelf' as Stephen King and Dan Brown.

Terie
05-08-2011, 10:31 PM
I linked in another thread somewhere an article talking about how the major publishers have all had increased profits in the past year, and RH had a 250% increase in profits from ebooks. The big publishers are certainly in the game. I'm not sure where this idea that they're way behind and missing out is coming from.

I think the fact that a month ago, nearly all of the titles on the Kindle top 20 paid list were self-published and for the last week and a half (at least), all but 2 or 3 (depending on when you looked) were commercially published is telling. To me, this indicates that commercial publishers, who got caught with their pants down for a very short period of time, are now retaking the ground they temporarily lost. (How's that for a mixed metaphor, eh? LOL!)

It's grand that the top seller lists now include a few self-pubbed books, and I hope that continues. But seriously, I doubt we'll ever go back to self-pubbed books having the dominance they did just a month ago.

entropic island
05-08-2011, 10:35 PM
As I said to shadowwalker, I'll dig out the link. But I'll ask you the same question. You don't think one agent has threatened to help their client publish his own work unless they got better terms?



The burden of proof is on you, friend.

Medievalist
05-08-2011, 10:35 PM
It's true that Sheil Land has recently published electronic versions of Catherine Cookson's books under its own imprint; but it wasn't done as a threat to trade publishers, as you seem to imply; there was no other offer on the table, as far as I'm aware; and the books concerned aren't new titles, they're established best-sellers with an inbuilt readership. Very few writers have the same standing as Ms Cookson; therefore this comparison isn't really valid for most writers.

For backlist titles from established authors with contracts before about 2005, as you know, digital rights are often not assigned.

So a lot of publishers, faced with the monumental task of producing ebooks without extant digital assets, are happy to turn the rights over to the author.

Some authors are producing the ebooks, and selling them, on their own (C. J. Cherryh is one; see her Closed Circle (http://www.closed-circle.net/) cooperative with Jane Fancher, Lynn Abbey, et al).

But as much as I admire Ms. Cherryh's books, her self-published digital versions, from the covers to the production values, are embarrassingly awful--and so is the Web site.

She's a fabulous writer. I adore her books. I've happily bought ebooks versions of print books, and will do so in the future.

I think it was a mistake for her to go this route. She should be writing more books, not attempting to publish e-books.

Had she gone to a professional producer, and hired or licensed cover art, or cut a deal with Baen or someone who can produce quality books, she would have been much better off.

Also, I'm appalled to see how many people, especially well-published and intelligent writers, dismiss editorial, art, production skill sets in incredibly ignorant and egotistical ways.

Production, editorial, art, and marketing are all highly skilled specialties.

One way to see that even from an Amazon page is to look at the cover copy of self-published books.

It's very often embarrassing.

James D. Macdonald
05-08-2011, 10:43 PM
News flash: The reading public wants gatekeepers.

firedrake
05-08-2011, 10:48 PM
News flash: The reading public wants gatekeepers.

This.

If I'm going to buy a book, I want one that's gone through the mill, one that's good enough to be taken on by an agent and a publisher.

If anything I write isn't good enough to catch an agent's eye or a publisher's eye, it's not good enough to be 'out there'. I'll trunk the bugger and write something better and I'll keep at it.

movieman
05-08-2011, 10:54 PM
News flash: The reading public wants gatekeepers.

The reading public wants good books. Trade publishers are just one means of finding good books because 99% of what they publish is better than 99% of self-published books.

dgaughran
05-08-2011, 11:08 PM
Hi guys,

I'm sorry I can't continue the discussion, but I found it very interesting.

Kaitie - I had already typed out a long answer to the excellent points you had raised, so I will send it by PM.

Dave

Medievalist
05-08-2011, 11:09 PM
You don't think one agent has threatened to help their client publish his own work unless they got better terms?.

I suppose there are some who are arrogant enough to do that yes.

But most established publishers aren't going to care. It's not like authors don't threaten to take books to another publisher, and often do; not a big deal.

And there are contracts.

There are more authors than there are publishers. And more readers than there are authors.

It's a lot of work to self-publish. It's a lot of work in terms of production, tracking, marketing, distribution. It's time consuming.

Writers want to write.

Writers are better off doing what they're very good at and letting publishers do what they are very good at doing.

Ari Meermans
05-08-2011, 11:19 PM
News flash: The reading public wants gatekeepers.

Exactly. I always look at the imprint when I'm evaluating a novel for purchase when I'm not familiar with the author. I've learned over many years which imprints are going to "come through" for me and my reading tastes.

But, all this aside, I still don't understand how the OP can extrapolate the potential for self-pubbing success for Barry Eisleróor any other well-established writeróto "all writers". The "threat" to self-publish is no leverage at all for a debut work or for any writer who is not yet firmly established in his market.

Amadan
05-08-2011, 11:20 PM
Many self-publishers tried for years to get published in New York and London and failed.

Because they weren't good enough.


Some writers simply have no interest in self-publishing. They donít want to learn the new skills necessary, they have little or no interest in e-books, and they canít imagine operating without the support network a trade deal provides.

Or because they know that being commercially published also means ebooks, and because they can't imagine taking the pay cut most of them would suffer trying to self-publish (it's not just a matter of "learning new skills").


However, some trade published writers are dead against it, and cringe at the thought of it. They react negatively to every ďgood newsĒ story about self-publishing, and are wary that the rise in the popularity of e-books will only swell the self-publishing ranks.

I don't think any trade published writers are gnashing their teeth as you suggest. The "negative reaction" is not to any self-published writer having success, but to people who trumpet those stories as a good reason to self-publish your book after it's turned down by trade publishers.


In every negotiation you have from now on with your publishing house, they will know that you now have another option Ė self-publishing.

Good luck using that as a negotiating strategy. I'd really like to see a debut author try to pull that.


Clever agents are already using this in negotiations.

As others have pointed out, this seems to be your invention with no evidence that any agents are actually doing this.

Ari Meermans
05-08-2011, 11:28 PM
As others have pointed out, this seems to be your invention with no evidence that any agents are actually doing this.

I wouldn't know whether there are any agents attempting this strategy but I can tell you that, should I read of any, they'll go straight to my Do Not Query list.

No, the scenario I can envision is a group of editors enjoying gut-busting laughter over drinks.

shadowwalker
05-08-2011, 11:57 PM
If you have no interest in reading e-books, writing e-books, producing e-books, or promoting e-books, then that will be a factor in your decision whether you want to self-publish or not.

You don't write e-books - you write books which may or may not be made into e-books. And if I want to self-publish, it won't matter what medium I choose - I'm going to self-publish. If I go with trade, I want them to make use of any and all medium to get my book the highest sales, regardless of where my personal interests lie.


I read a discussion on this a few days ago - give me a bit and I will dig out the link. But it's pretty obvious, no?

No.


I didn't mention them because it's pretty obvious and not exactly germane to the discussion. I meant "four times the royalty rate". Actual sales could be lower or higher depending on any number of factors (usually lower), but that's not particularly relevant here.

I don't know why it isn't germane if the royalty rate is. If an author hits them with that, they're going to counter with the advance/costs.


It may be true that most writers prefer to be writers and that many would not be very good publishers, but there are plenty of companies that will take care of the whole lot for a flat fee, if that's what the writer prefers. John Locke, for example, does this.

And if the writer has the upfront money to pay for it. And has the audience ready to recoup it for him/her. Oh, and if the author knows which of these companies are legit. And good.


So you don't think Barry Eisler walking away from a trade deal made any publisher wonder if one of their writers would be next? You don't think that there are any writers out there who have hinted that they could self-publish to get a better deal? You don't think one agent has threatened to help their client publish his own work unless they got better terms?

I'm sure all of the above. I'm sure most of those thoughts, hints, and threats lasted all of a few minutes... As someone else mentioned, there are other trade publishers, contracts, other authors with the particular publisher - I doubt any publisher is going to go out of business because one author leaves the ranch (and no, I don't expect a stampede, either).

ResearchGuy
05-09-2011, 12:40 AM
But ebooks make up the vast majority of self-published fiction sold, . . .
Maybe. But as someone who has bought a lot of self-published fiction in paperback (and occasionally hardback) and who has seen a great many more such books than I have bought (ranging from awful to excellent), I'd not take that assertion as fact without proof.

--Ken

scope
05-09-2011, 12:54 AM
You don't write e-books - you write books which may or may not be made into e-books. And if I want to self-publish, it won't matter what medium I choose - I'm going to self-publish. If I go with trade, I want them to make use of any and all medium to get my book the highest sales, regardless of where my personal interests lie.



I agree, completely. When I read certain posts I get the impression that some think it's an entity unto itself.

FOTSGreg
05-09-2011, 03:04 AM
My thinking on the whole thing, not that anyone besides me cares, is that a great deal of the "hype" regarding self-publishing is exactly that - hype.

I'm willing to bet good money that 90% of the writers currently putting stuff up on Amazon or Smashwords or wherever else will not be around next year or the year after or 5 years down the road.

Everybody thinks they could write a book. Everybody thinks a single book, or even just a short story, is going to make them rich and famous.

I must amend that "everybody" above. Ninety percent of the writers putting their stuff up on Smashwords or Kindle think that's what's going to happen.

They have not yet come to grips with the fact that a 5, 10, or 15 thousand word story isn't a "book". They haven't yet faced the cold reality that in order to gain a following and a readership, you must produce - not just 1 story, but more and more and more. You must continually improve as well. Ninety percent of the writers self-publishing today cannot or will not produce another story - ever. They're done, kaput, finito. They've said what they have to say. They're not willing to sit down and go through the process again - and they won't be if they don't suddenly leap onto the bestseller lists and make a bajillion dollars in their first year.

They're not in it for the long haul, they're in it for the money.

When the money doesn't materialize they're going to realize they have a bajillion other things that demand their time than sitting in a quiet room tapping away on the keyboard.

A writing career takes dedication and purpose and focus and time away from the bajillion other things that call to us to attend them every single day.

Ninety percent of the people putting their work up on Amazon or wherever aren't going to be putting anything new up next month or next year or ever.

There will be a winnowing process. A lot of people juing on the bandwagon right now are in fir a big disappointment when they don't turn out to be the next Rowling or Hocking or Meyer or whatever the flavor of the day might be. They'll quit.

And that'll leave room for the dedicated few to build their followings, their skills, and their catalogs.

So, yeah, self-publishing is good for all writers because it will work as a seive to sort out those who produce once and then no more from those who work and build and craft.

Amadan
05-09-2011, 03:27 AM
So, yeah, self-publishing is good for all writers because it will work as a seive to sort out those who produce once and then no more from those who work and build and craft.


The publishing industry already does that. "Sieve" = "gatekeepers." Self-publishing won't do any more weeding than the old system did.

Sheryl Nantus
05-09-2011, 04:25 AM
Hi guys,

I'm sorry I can't continue the discussion, but I found it very interesting.


Why?

Alessandra Kelley
05-09-2011, 05:19 AM
Also, I'm appalled to see how many people, especially well-published and intelligent writers, dismiss editorial, art, production skill sets in incredibly ignorant and egotistical ways.

Production, editorial, art, and marketing are all highly skilled specialties.


Total agreement. There are a lot of important skills that go into producing and selling a book, more than one person can master. I appreciate the inclusion of art as a highly skilled specialty, as I've recently come off another thread on how to do cover art for your self-pubbed work on the cheap (I had to dissuade someone from 'recruiting' art students for a 'contest', the sole prize of which was appearing on the cover of his book -- quoted words his).

I suspect as many artists are casually convinced that that they could easily write a book as writers are that they can wrangle cover art.

Writing well is a skill you can devote your whole life to. Making art, too. Evidence suggests that good editing, design, and presentation are all lifetime endeavors. Self publishing is a tough row to hoe. Not sure where I'm going with this. I guess just that we should recognize each others' hard work.

Medievalist
05-09-2011, 05:26 AM
I suspect as many artists are casually convinced that that they could easily write a book as writers are that they can wrangle cover art.

I think that issue, on both the artists' and writers' parts, was partially responsible for a comics publisher bifurcating.

ResearchGuy
05-09-2011, 06:01 AM
. . . There are a lot of important skills that go into producing and selling a book, more than one person can master.. . . .
But not more than one person can manage through combination of own efforts plus contracted services.

--Ken

ColoradoMom
05-09-2011, 07:28 AM
Don't you guys ever get tired of saying the same shit over and over again?

How about this...who here thinks the rise in self-publishing is BAD for writers?

Let's have a new conversation instead of dragging that whole E-publishing and self-publishing isn’t the same thing or my credentials are better than your credentials argument.

I personally think self-publishing is a great thing for all writers because it is breeding opportunity and forcing a change in the industry as to how business is done. Technology doesn't go backwards without an apocalypse. People move forward...the typewriter is dead because the computer is better. The land-line telephone is dying as well, all hail the iPhone.

Will the book die? I don't think so - but I personally feel it will be a niche market within 10 years; one for book lovers, collectors, and art.

Will self-publishing take over publishing, probably not. But here's what I find interesting...those e-book numbers in another thread about the top 100 on Amazon. Such a poor showing for those self-pubbers. Very sad.

Except 1 year ago there were probably zero. So what will next year bring? What will 2013, or 2014 bring?

My guess is that the numbers will go up, the quality will go up, and freelance editors and cover designers will be in high demand.

And the whole gatekeeper thing...yeah...perhaps some really do prefer that others make their personal reading decisions for them, but I find that kind of dependence on the opinions of others to be a bit...sad. For 99 cents I can actually make up my own mind, perhaps expand my horizons, throw caution to the wind and all that good shit.


This topic gives me a headache and I still don't understand why the anti-self-publishing-people-who-won't-admit-they-are-anti-self-publishing-people waste their time in the self publishing forums just trying to make sure "the truth about self-publishing" gets out to those poor unfortunate wanna-be's who are naive enough to actually consider alternate routes to publishing. It's a full-fledged CSI mystery.


And just thinking out-loud here...but perhaps we should rename the forum to something less support-system-y? That way no one misunderstands why it's here. Although that sub-title almost does the trick...but why leave the door open?

ResearchGuy
05-09-2011, 07:33 AM
. . . I personally think self-publishing is a great thing for all writers because it is breeding opportunity and forcing a change in the industry as to how business is done. . . .
It is not new, by the way. The (primarily) self-publishing organization I am in marked its 20th anniversary this year. And some of the folks who founded it had been in the business for years.

--Ken

P.S. I believe that Melvyn Powers' Wilshire Book Company started in the 1950s with his first self-published book. And there was nothing new about self-publishing even then.

Amadan
05-09-2011, 07:43 AM
Don't you guys ever get tired of saying the same shit over and over again?

Nah, it needs to be repeated. Because people keep saying silly things like this:


And the whole gatekeeper thing...yeah...perhaps some really do prefer that others make their personal reading decisions for them, but I find that kind of dependence on the opinions of others to be a bit...sad. For 99 cents I can actually make up my own mind, perhaps expand my horizons, throw caution to the wind and all that good shit.

blacbird
05-09-2011, 07:44 AM
How about this...who here thinks the rise in self-publishing is BAD for writers?

Me. But then again, I think the entire publishing industry is bad for writers. And has been since Homer.

BenPanced
05-09-2011, 08:12 AM
Don't you guys ever get tired of saying the same shit over and over again?
Maybe when the same questions stop getting asked over and over again (see also: the PA boards over on BR&BC).

How about this...who here thinks the rise in self-publishing is BAD for writers? It's not bad, but it's not going to help writers who see it as an easy-out.

Let's have a new conversation instead of dragging that whole E-publishing and self-publishing isnít the same thingAgain, when people stop blurring that line, maybe the question will stop being answered and you can sleep better at night.

or my credentials are better than your credentials argument.Some of the credentials here were instrumental in my getting published.

I personally think self-publishing is a great thing for all writers because it is breeding opportunity and forcing a change in the industry as to how business is done.As mentioned elsewhere, self-publishing was once the industry standard. As to how it's "forcing a change", yeah, I can tell the Big 6 are quaking in their boots.

My guess is that the numbers will go up, the quality will go up, and freelance editors and cover designers will be in high demand.Yeah, the numbers are going up but there's such a dearth of self-published material out there at the moment, something's going to give. Natural business cycle, theory of evolution, take your pick.

And the whole gatekeeper thing...yeah...perhaps some really do prefer that others make their personal reading decisions for them, but I find that kind of dependence on the opinions of others to be a bit...sad. For 99 cents I can actually make up my own mind, perhaps expand my horizons, throw caution to the wind and all that good shit.Somebody still had to make that decision for you by putting it out there.

This topic gives me a headache and I still don't understand why the anti-self-publishing-people-who-won't-admit-they-are-anti-self-publishing-people waste their time in the self publishing forums just trying to make sure "the truth about self-publishing" gets out to those poor unfortunate wanna-be's who are naive enough to actually consider alternate routes to publishing. It's a full-fledged CSI mystery.Fine. The next time somebody comes here saying they wish somebody here at AW had talked them down from the ledge, you can be the first to say I TOLD YOU SO NEENER NEENER.

Medievalist
05-09-2011, 08:20 AM
Don't you guys ever get tired of saying the same shit over and over again?

Don't you?


How about this...who here thinks the rise in self-publishing is BAD for writers?

I do.

Because what's increased is the percentage of absolutely awful stuff, to good stuff that happens to be self-published.

So the really good stuff--and there's a lot, actually--is drowning in a sea of sewage.


Let's have a new conversation instead of dragging that whole E-publishing and self-publishing isn’t the same thing or my credentials are better than your credentials argument.

I'll get in line right after you.


People move forward...the typewriter is dead because the computer is better. The land-line telephone is dying as well, all hail the iPhone.

Except:

1. The landline isn't dead, and isn't going to die.

You know why?

Because much of the world doesn't have the infra structure to support cell phone and wireless, and, as well, because at extremes of heat, altitude and cold, land lines work--and cell phones, don't.

2. The typewriter hasn't died. You know why? It's portable, and doesn't have to use electricity, and it's easily repaired. Smith-Corona has a new market in Afghanistan for Cyrillic, Sanskrt, and Roman character set typewriters.

They're selling well. They're manual, use a cartridge, and are already being cloned by local manufacturers.


Will the book die? I don't think so - but I personally feel it will be a niche market within 10 years; one for book lovers, collectors, and art.

You're using terms without knowing what they mean.

A cuneiform tablet is a book, or part of one.
A papyrus scroll is a book, or part of one, or a collection of books.
A vellum or parchment ms. is a book, or part of one, or a collection of books.
A printed codex book is a book, or part of one.

Book, derived from the Old English for beech, because beech was used to make the first books (technically, wax tablets, but who cares?) merely means the container.

That said, no the codex book isn't going to die. It has a lot of advantages; it's portable, durable, and doesn't use electricity.


...those e-book numbers in another thread about the top 100 on Amazon. Such a poor showing for those self-pubbers. Very sad.

Except 1 year ago there were probably zero. So what will next year bring? What will 2013, or 2014 bring?

Actually, no, there were successful self-publishers before. In fact a larger percentage of them were successful.

What's going to happen is that Amazon will realize that their cooling and related server costs exceed the value of the crap they're hosting.

And they'll start charging a fee.

Now, there's a deluge of crap. The fee will limit some of that. But in the meantime, readers are buying known brands, and known authors more than they're buying the John Locke and Amanda Hockings.

Once Amazon curtails the upload and sell flood, things will change.

My guess is that the numbers will go up, the quality will go up, and freelance editors and cover designers will be in high demand.


The whole gatekeeper thing...yeah...perhaps some really do prefer that others make their personal reading decisions for them, but I find that kind of dependence on the opinions of others to be a bit...sad. For 99 cents I can actually make up my own mind, perhaps expand my horizons, throw caution to the wind and all that good shit.

You go right ahead.

As someone who reviews books and is deluged with books I do not want, books that, frankly, wouldn't have made it past the first three pages in a blind submission because they're almost not recognizably English--I salute your fortitude.


I still don't understand why the anti-self-publishing-people-who-won't-admit-they-are-anti-self-publishing-people waste their time in the self publishing forums just trying to make sure "the truth about self-publishing" gets out to those poor unfortunate wanna-be's who are naive enough to actually consider alternate routes to publishing. It's a full-fledged CSI mystery

I think perhaps you're reading oddly.

I am self-published. I've helped others self-publish, in print and digital form, and have done so for, oh, twenty years or so.

So I'm not seeing what you're seeing.

I am seeing people who have truly wretched books deciding to self-publish, spending time and money on bookmarks, Web sites, business cards, and Web ads--and selling 25 copies in a year.

That's pretty common, unfortunately.

I'd like to save those people. I'd like to prevent the parent who's unemployed from spending $4800.00 to promote a book that, frankly, isn't readable. This is in fact a real AW member's story. The book has sold two printed copies, and 25 Kindle copies in about 18 months.


And just thinking out-loud here...but perhaps we should rename the forum to something less support-system-y? That way no one misunderstands why it's here. Although that sub-title almost does the trick...but why leave the door open?

Why not propose that to the owner, MacAllister? She's always open for suggestions.

Medievalist
05-09-2011, 08:34 AM
Me. But then again, I think the entire publishing industry is bad for writers. And has been since Homer.

Gee, I'm so very sorry that the "publishing industry" preserved Homer, and Sappho, and Beowulf, and all the other works of Anonymous, and Chaucer, and Shakespeare . . .

Bad publishers, bad bad bad

shadowwalker
05-09-2011, 08:38 AM
Don't you guys ever get tired of saying the same shit over and over again?

Oh yeah - hopefully, perhaps even in my lifetime, the reasons for having to repeat them will disappear.

scope
05-09-2011, 09:17 AM
How about this...who here thinks the rise in self-publishing is BAD for writers?

It's terrible for writers, especialy for the overwhelming majority who are unpublished and think that self-publishing is the gretest thing since sliced bread. Then they wake up one day and discover it's not. As for published writers, the rise in self-publshing simply means that there's more junk out there than ever before, and in some ways 'good' writers have to rise over an even lager amount of junk than ever before.

I personally think self-publishing is a great thing for all writers because it is breeding opportunity and forcing a change in the industry as to how business is done.

As Ken said, self-publishing has around for a good number of years, and rather unsuccessfully for writers. So what's new about it that makes it everyting you claim it to be?

Will the book die? I don't think so - but I personally feel it will be a niche market within 10 years; one for book lovers, collectors, and art.

I assume you mean paper books from trade houses. It may have to share a part of the market with self-publishers of ebooks--but certainly not with self-publishers of paper books. And niche market, I don't think so.

My guess is that the numbers will go up, the quality will go up, and freelance editors and cover designers will be in high demand.

I guess otherwise.

And the whole gatekeeper thing...yeah...perhaps some really do prefer that others make their personal reading decisions for them, but I find that kind of dependence on the opinions of others to be a bit...sad.

I see nothing wrong with reading the opinions of "gatekeepers" who I have come to respect. They will never decide what I will buy and read, but I am more than happy to learn of their opinions.

For 99 cents I can actually make up my own mind, perhaps expand my horizons, throw caution to the wind and all that good shit.

Does this mean that you will read most anything as long as it's cheap?


This topic gives me a headache and I still don't understand why the anti-self-publishing-people-who-won't-admit-they-are-anti-self-publishing-people waste their time in the self publishing forums just trying to make sure "the truth about self-publishing" gets out to those poor unfortunate wanna-be's who are naive enough to actually consider alternate routes to publishing. It's a full-fledged CSI mystery.

Because based on experience some of us are trying to tell these wannabe's that all is not cranked up to be as is sounds.

ss

shaldna
05-09-2011, 02:10 PM
Okay, so, with the original topic. Do I think SP is good for all writers? No, not really.

I mean, yeah okay, so more writers get their work out there, those writers have control of thier work and how they run things, and I totally respect that and it's great for them.

But how is that good for me?

Well, it's not really, to be honest. All in all it doesn't really have an effect on me and my work because I don't SP and probably never will. That's not to say that I wouldn't consider it in the future, but as things are now, no, it's not something that's for me. And that's fine too.

What I see a lot of from SP advocates is that because I choose not to SP that I'm somehow letting the side down. I;'ve had it implied that I am lazy, or disinterested or that I just don't care enough about either my work or my career. I've heard it implied that I'm not dedicated enough. Maybe I'm not. But that's not really anyone else's judgement call to make.

I CHOOSE not to SP, just as those SP's CHOOSE not to TP.

SP and the few success stories lately have been great at attracting the attention of the media and showing how SP can be a great thing for some writers.

Note I said SOME.

The downside of the SP success is that it also shows an awful lot of people who aren't ready to publish that it's pretty easy, so we see a surge in bad books, badly written, poorly produced. These are writers, or aspiring writers, who see SP as a quick way to get their work out there, some are writers who can't get published anywhere else, some are writers who want the control, some are writers who just dont' know any better.

Those books, hopping on the SP bandwagon, are actually bad for SP because they lower the general quality, helping to discredit the progress made by those who SP well.

Terie
05-09-2011, 03:32 PM
^-^-^-^

What Shaldna said.

And self-publishing by people whose books aren't ready, who spend money they can't afford and won't likely earn back, is Not Good for those people.

Self-publishing is great for people who know what they're doing and do things right.

But for all writers? C'mon, what's true for all writers? Only death and taxes come to mind. :D

Wayne K
05-09-2011, 04:57 PM
^-^-^-^

What Shaldna said.

And self-publishing by people whose books aren't ready, who spend money they can't afford and won't likely earn back, is Not Good for those people.

Self-publishing is great for people who know what they're doing and do things right.

But for all writers? C'mon, what's true for all writers? Only death and taxes come to mind. :D

I'm against taxes :D

James D. Macdonald
05-09-2011, 05:19 PM
The lessons from fandom come to mind.

There is a ton of fan fiction out there. Most of it (99%?) is ghod-awful. But still, writers feel the need to write it. And readers feel the need to read it.

This is as true in the other genres; literary, horror, romance, what-have-you. With one important difference:

In most areas of writing, once the writers reaches a certain level of skill, they break out into commercial publishing, so all that's left in the self-published ranks are the works that only the author and the author' mom could love (and mom may be fibbing). Not so in fan fiction. Fan fiction can have no legal existence; no matter how well it's written it can never be commercially published. So, unlike the usual self-published world, in fan fiction you genuinely can have the gem hidden in the midden.

(Noted in passing: Not so much now, but up until the last fifty years or so the same was true of erotica/pornography. No matter how brilliantly written, the book could not be published. So the books were "privately printed" and, while most were utter dung, some few were brilliant: e.g. Ulysses, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer).

But it is also true that readers in general don't read slush for fun. So how has fandom coped?

They developed their own editing and production process. The term "beta reader" came out of fandom. That's essentially peer editing.

Fandom developed its own literary theory. That's where you get the term "Mary Sue."

You have your curated lists. You have your reviewers. Recommendation lists and recommendation communities. Archives. Favorites.

The winnowing process is done by recommendations. Trusted individuals.

Gatekeepers.

I see the same thing happening in the world of inexpensive electronic self-publishing.

The distribution problem has been solved: My electronic work is no nearer or farther than Grisham's electronic work.

Now expect to see the rise of the review sites, the curated lists, the human recommenders. And there, the big publishers already have their game in place. They own the most powerful curated lists in the world of books and writing. They have people dedicated to getting books to reviewers.

That's what's going to happen, guys.

And self-publishing will still be best for specialized non-fiction, for niche fiction, and for poetry.

shaldna
05-09-2011, 05:34 PM
Now expect to see the rise of the review sites, the curated lists, the human recommenders. And there, the big publishers already have their game in place. They own the most powerful curated lists in the world of books and writing. They have people dedicated to getting books to reviewers.

I think this is happening already with the success of sites like Goodreads etc.

I think SP is different from FF in one crucial way - FF comes with a ready made fan base who will often overlook mediocre or bad writing in order to spend more time with characters and in worlds they love.

In SP there isn't that premade base.



And self-publishing will still be best for specialized non-fiction, for niche fiction, and for poetry.

I really agree with this actually, SP is ideal for niche genres where readers will actively seek out new work rather than see what takes their eye on the shelves.

Sheryl Nantus
05-09-2011, 05:52 PM
But for all writers? C'mon, what's true for all writers? Only death and taxes come to mind. :D

And people discovering that you're a writer and saying "I've got this GREAT idea for a book!"

:ROFL:

James D. Macdonald
05-09-2011, 06:29 PM
And, while we're at it, here are some review sites (http://www.simon-royle.com/indie-reviewers/).

Old Hack
05-09-2011, 07:39 PM
I review self-published books too, but only print books. There's a link in my signature if anyone's interested.

AP7
05-09-2011, 07:44 PM
Originally Posted by dgaughran http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6120807#post6120807)
Many self-publishers tried for years to get published in New York and London and failed.
Because they weren't good enough.





It must be nice to live in a world where the bad guy always gets his at the end, kittens never get hit by cars and little children never die of cancer.

kaitie
05-09-2011, 08:10 PM
Personally, I think we can do without the sarcasm.

Terie
05-09-2011, 08:15 PM
There is a certain irony in how some on this board are committed to heroically rescuing those they clearly hold in distain as talentless, arrogant and entitled!

Or maybe you don't have the same amount of contact that others of us do with people who've listened to the piper and are crushed with desperation.

Like the bloke in one my Yahoo groups who spent $4,000 self-publishing his children's book, absolutely believing he'd earn it back and substantially more within a year, and seven months later had sold exactly 40 copies.

That's just one of numerous examples in just that one Yahoo group.

So maybe you ought to dial back the judgementalism, eh?

AP7
05-09-2011, 08:19 PM
Personally, I think we can do without the sarcasm.

I apologize, Kaitie. But as someone who has been aspiring to be a career novelist and working at it for 17 years, I refuse to accept the notion that those who have tried and failed to be traditionally published can be written off as "not good enough."

AP7
05-09-2011, 08:22 PM
Or maybe you don't have the same amount of contact that others of us do with people who've listened to the piper and are crushed with desperation.

Like the bloke in one my Yahoo groups who spent $4,000 self-publishing his children's book, absolutely believing he'd earn it back and substantially more within a year, and seven months later had sold exactly 40 copies.

That's just one of numerous examples in just that one Yahoo group.

So maybe you ought to dial back the judgementalism, eh?

Is judgementalism a word? I'm sorry to hear about this poor bloke who lost four grand, but I can't say I'm heartbroken. I feel a lot worse for those who have worked for decades at a dream and come up short and I'm not ready to dismiss them all out of hand as not good enough, as some here are.

Roger J Carlson
05-09-2011, 08:32 PM
I personally think self-publishing is a great thing for all writers because it is breeding opportunity and forcing a change in the industry as to how business is done. :sarcasm
(because there isn't a 'cynicism alert' smilie)

I personally think self-publishing is great for both writers AND publishers. The more people that go directly to self-publishing means a proportional reduction in the size of commercial slush piles. This means more time for editors and agents to spend on those who do pursue commercial publishing. Go to it guys! Remove yourself from the pool.


This topic gives me a headache and I still don't understand why the anti-self-publishing-people-who-won't-admit-they-are-anti-self-publishing-people waste their time in the self publishing forums just trying to make sure "the truth about self-publishing" gets out to those poor unfortunate wanna-be's who are naive enough to actually consider alternate routes to publishing. What I don't understand is why self-publishing-people seem intent on encouraging others to do so. Adding to the pool only dilutes their own offerings and makes their own books only harder to find. From a purely selfish standpoint, they should be discouraging others.

Similarly, I don't understand why anti-self-publishing-people are trying to discourage others from self-publishing. They should instead be encouraging it for the reasons given above.

(Okay, end of cynicism.)

The suggestion that anti-self-publishing people are trying to hurt self-publishers is simply ludicrious. There is absolutely nothing in it for them. From a purely selfish standpoint they should be encouraging others to self-publish. That they aren't, speaks volumes to me. It says to me that no one here is "anti-self-publishing" so much as "pro-writer".

Amadan
05-09-2011, 08:34 PM
I apologize, Kaitie. But as someone who has been aspiring to be a career novelist and working at it for 17 years, I refuse to accept the notion that those who have tried and failed to be traditionally published can be written off as "not good enough."

I can understand why you'd reject that notion, but I stand by it. Of course there probably are a handful of exceptions who've been cursed by the gods for some reason, but I reject the notion that anyone who's good enough to be published and is truly persistent in submitting his or her work can't get published.

Terie
05-09-2011, 08:34 PM
Is judgementalism a word? I'm sorry to hear about this poor bloke who lost four grand, but I can't say I'm heartbroken. I feel a lot worse for those who have worked for decades at a dream and come up short and I'm not ready to dismiss them all out of hand as not good enough, as some here are.

It's unfortunate that you seem to have a hard time separating one's work from oneself. No one here is dismissing writers as being not good enough; we're only saying a lot of people are self-publishing work that is not good enough.

And, hey, it took me 30 years to write something good enough to get a commercial deal. I only wish it had taken a mere 17.

Basically, you're taking comments here way too personally. Many of us here have experienced the same frustration you feel. That doesn't mean we're being judgemental or dismissive.

Capital
05-09-2011, 08:43 PM
Traditional Publishing is a business. They follow a strategy. Will they pass up on an excellent book X in favor of excellent book Y, considering their predictions of Y earning them 5m vs X's 4? Yes. Agents do the same thing on a lower level.

"Good" (whatever the heck that is, so I'm talking about well-edited, original ones which would certainly find fans if released and marketed properly) books do get passed up by traditional simply for money reasons. So I don't mind self-publishing. If someone has faith in their work and is willing to put in the effort to see it done, they shouldn't be held back by whatever is called "traditional".

Here are the things I do mind about SP(and primarily e-books, since there goes the major thrust of SP these days):
-Leeches and scammers attaching themselves to the currently terrible distribution model. Amazon and others need to get their shit together.
-Books allowed to be sold without passing a corrector's eye. Once again, distribution issue. Distributors HAVE TO start guaranteeing some level of editing quality. #1 reason why I refuse to even buy e-books at this point.
-Bad preview option. If I'm buying a paperback, I can look through the whole thing. I want the same option with e-books.

And as for me, I'm going traditional with my primary WIP, but I do intend to start converting some of my niche work into e-books. I also do unique covers for e-books just to be part of community - assuming I like the project.

Medievalist
05-09-2011, 08:48 PM
I apologize, Kaitie. But as someone who has been aspiring to be a career novelist and working at it for 17 years, I refuse to accept the notion that those who have tried and failed to be traditionally published can be written off as "not good enough."

I can understand that.

If you just want to have your book available, and you really have tried, (take a look at the Share Your Work forum--after you've got 50 posts on the AW Board, you can submit an excerpt for crit) I can see self-publishing as a viable alternative.

I know a woman who mortgaged her house in order to cover printing and associated costs for her book. The book is not typeset, and has a stock image for a cover. She's been trying to sell copies by hand at craft fairs and book fairs. In two years, she's sold less than 500. It's a mystery set in the PNW; the cover price for the paperback is 17.00. That's what it cost her to print the book. Last year she released a Kindle version. She's reduced her price several times; she's now trying to sell it for 1.99.

She has less than a hundred ebook sales.

The make-money-fast tenor of much of the self-publishing conversation of late makes my stomach hurt. ResearchGuy has actually been self-publishing for years, and has helped a lot of authors. He has a pamphlet (see his sig) that's practical in terms of realistic steps in self-publishing.

ResearchGuy
05-09-2011, 08:55 PM
. . . Like the bloke in one my Yahoo groups who spent $4,000 self-publishing his children's book, absolutely believing he'd earn it back and substantially more within a year, and seven months later had sold exactly 40 copies.

That's just one of numerous examples in just that one Yahoo group.

. . .
IMHO, as a long time observer of and sometimes participant in micropublishing (self- and other), I suspect that the example is reasonably typical (whether children's book, adult novel, memoir, and so on). One of my roles as a consultant is to lower expectations for that reason.

And sometimes my role is to raise aspirations by encouraging budding authors to work harder, smarter, and longer at their craft and to pursue commercial publishing first and foremost, or if determined to self-publish (or subsidy-publish, an even more difficult road) to back up, plan, prepare, polish, and professionalize.

BTW, in my world, printed books still dominate self-publishing. E-book versions are add-on products. I suspect that many folks commenting here really have no exposure to the breadth and depth of print self-publishing. Yes, the landscape is shifting, but not all at once.

--Ken

RemusShepherd
05-09-2011, 09:01 PM
Traditional Publishing is a business. They follow a strategy. Will they pass up on an excellent book X in favor of excellent book Y, considering their predictions of Y earning them 5m vs X's 4? Yes. Agents do the same thing on a lower level.

Another way or stating that is that traditional publication is a competition. Authors compete with each other for seats at the publishers' and agents' tables. There is a small and countable number of publishers and agents, and their time and resources are limited; the number of authors is very large.

What strikes me is that the current situation is not in equilibrium. More changes are coming. Self-publishing is still a competition, but now authors are competing directly for readers (and readers' money). That is another very large pool, but it is not infinite. So this system is still in the process of balancing itself. Eventually it will establish a new equilibrium between authors, publishers/agents, and readers. How it will stabilize is anyone's guess. But because publishers and agents are the most restrictive chokepoints the future doesn't look good for them. On the other hand authors -- especially prolific authors -- stand to make out okay.

Roger J Carlson
05-09-2011, 09:06 PM
I apologize, Kaitie. But as someone who has been aspiring to be a career novelist and working at it for 17 years, I refuse to accept the notion that those who have tried and failed to be traditionally published can be written off as "not good enough."Well, I've been an aspiring novelist for the last 10 years. I find that intellectual honestly compels me to at least consider the possibility that I do not have the talent to be commercially published.

After all, not everyone can be a concert pianist. I can study and practice for years, but if I don't have the talent, it won't help. I may be a very good pianist, but still not concert quality. I could book my own, poorly attended, concerts, but that won't make me a professional concert pianist either.

That doesn't make me worthless. I am a truly exceptional database programmer, known literally world-wide (within database circles, anyway). Thing is, I want to be a novelist. It is no shame that my dream doesn't match reality.

Now, I'm not projecting this on you. It's my own story. You may very well be publishable and just haven't had the right story or the right breaks.

But the fact is that most people who do most things are just average (rather the definition of average, don't you think?). Average doesn't get published. Only exceptional does, and everybody can't be exceptional.

One of the down sides to self-publishing, it seems to me, is the false hope it gives to too many people. It also encourages people who do have talent to keep working on selling a mediocre book when they could be writing a better book.

James D. Macdonald
05-09-2011, 09:18 PM
"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's how the smart money bets." -- Damon Runyon

AP7
05-09-2011, 09:32 PM
"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's how the smart money bets." -- Damon Runyon

Why speak in riddles Jim? I have a guess as to what you are intimating, but why make me guess?

ResearchGuy
05-09-2011, 09:36 PM
. . . consider the possibility that I do not have the talent to be commercially published.. . . .
Always a possibility. Always a possibility, too, that luck (timing, a chance connection) plays a role. The story of A Confederacy of Dunces is familiar, of course. Perhaps less so the numerous rejections of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig toughed it out and the book became a best seller, still in print.

And of course who knows how many good novels are published with a typically modest print run only to disappear into Remainderville (http://edwardrhamilton.com/subject1/fi.html) after small sales. (Yes, yes, some or many of those are the remainders of large printings or follow-on printings.)

--Ken

shadowwalker
05-09-2011, 09:39 PM
On the other hand authors -- especially prolific authors -- stand to make out okay.

'Prolific' doesn't mean 'good'. It just means they can pump out more stories quickly. Some write quickly very well, others, not so much.

Writing, as I mentioned to a writer friend of mine, is not like sewing tea cozies and selling them at a craft show. They are not a 'commodity' or a product of mass production. Each story is an individual project, requiring (if you're good at it) a lot of sweat and tears and thought and construction. If you can't write worth sh*t, it won't matter if you produce like rabbits.

Roger J Carlson
05-09-2011, 09:56 PM
Always a possibility. Always a possibility, too, that luck (timing, a chance connection) plays a role. True, but possiblities are not probabilities.

My mother, bless her, often tells me of such-and-such author who was rejected hundreds of times before being published. Those stories obviously exist. I always thank her because it is well meant.

But for each published author with multiple rejections, there are hundreds who never were published. Probablility says most of them were deservedly so.

jnfr
05-09-2011, 10:03 PM
I liked this article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/novel-rejected-theres-an-e-book-gold-rush/2011/04/09/AFZdqb9F_story_1.html) in the Washington Post on the rise of electronic self-publishers because in addition to the usual sort of stories about people who published and got rich, they included this section:


WE NOW INSERT THIS PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT BECAUSE WE DO NOT WANT YOU CALLING US WHEN YOUR e-BOOK TANKS:

Don’t sprint to e-pub that novel you wrote on vacation that time but never sent to anyone because your wife said it stinks and what does she know? Well, maybe a lot.

The overwhelming number of self-publishing e-authors are consigned to the same fate as their print counterparts: oblivion.

“We have less than 50 people who are making more than $50,000 per year. We have a lot who don’t sell a single book,” says Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.com, a Web site that helped launch indie publishing.

“When I load all our numbers on a spreadsheet, it’s the typical power curve,” he says. “On the left, there’s a skinny area of the chart where people are knocking it out of the park. And then we have a very, very long tail off to the right, where some titles sell very few at all.”

I was actually impressed that SW has anywhere near 50 writers making $50k/year since they are still a fairly small outfit, and as we've discussed here before there aren't many writers of any kind making that kind of cash. But most self-publishers these days don't really understand that the "long tail" is a very, very thin place to survive.

kaitie
05-09-2011, 10:06 PM
I apologize, Kaitie. But as someone who has been aspiring to be a career novelist and working at it for 17 years, I refuse to accept the notion that those who have tried and failed to be traditionally published can be written off as "not good enough."

And we generally make it a point of saying a writer isn't "not good enough." A particular manuscript however? Often not good enough. Or how about "Not good enough yet."

I've written plenty that wasn't good enough to be published and was thus rejected. We are also aware that most, by most meaning the vast, vast majority, of books that aren't accepted aren't accepted because of inherent flaws in the writing or story: meaning that they aren't up to professional standards.

Yes, some books fall through the cracks, and we're more than willing to say that some books are well suited for self-publishing, but the fact of the matter is if you want to be paid to write, your writing has to be at a particular level, and it's difficult to get there. Most people aren't just inherently talented enough to do it on their first try. Most of us have to learn it. Unfortunately, those people who are rejected because they aren't good enough aren't going to be successful period.

I'm not trying to be rude. Hell, if anything people here know I try to be very encouraging and I believe that anyone can succeed if they work hard enough. What we're trying to do is discourage people who might be rejected because their book just isn't up to par yet from going a route that might actually cost them. Many writers self-publish because they couldn't get the book commercially published. I have yet to see someone who has said that who then has a viable book when I go and read the samples. I'm sure they exist, but personally, I think encouraging someone to continue to improve and learn isn't a bad idea, and the fact of the matter is still that most books are rejected because they aren't good enough. Does it suck for the writer? Yes. I've been there and done that and it's heartbreaking. But you get up, write another book, and learn from critiques.

If you do that, you have a chance at success. If you don't, you're just going to continue to fail. So is it so wrong to advise someone to follow the route that might lead to success? You can tell people something they don't want to hear in a kind way. Personally, I've been told myself that there were problems with my work, and so I had a good cry and then got on it and tried to do something about it. I'd much rather be told the truth if there's a problem so I can fix it than be lied to.

ETA: For what it's worth, I wrote my first novel fifteen years before I got an agent. I'm not particularly talented at all. I'm someone who's done this through work and blood, sweat, and tears.

ResearchGuy
05-09-2011, 10:36 PM
. . . But for each published author with multiple rejections, there are hundreds who never were published. Probablility says most of them were deservedly so.
Safe bet, methinks, judging from what I've seen.

--Ken

FOTSGreg
05-09-2011, 11:00 PM
Medievalist, God's, I hope you're wrong about Amazon. But I have a sneaking suspicion you're absolutely right.

ColoradoMom, in contrast to any impression I might have given above, I do think things like Amazon and Smashwords and the host of others popping up are good for writers.

It's a good thing because it allows virtually anyone to express themselves and to make the attempt to make a buck or two off their work. It's a good thing because freedom of expression is one of the foundations of a free (or free-er) society and that alone makes things better in my opinion. It's a good thing because some writers will get what they want to say off their chests and be done with it. It's a good thing because some writers will make their careers this way.

Hope is a powerful thing. Everyone needs to have hope, few more so than writers, again in my opinion.

kaitie
05-09-2011, 11:09 PM
I actually was discussing this issue with my boyfriend the other day, just giving him a rundown of the situation without anything but context, and asked what he thinks will happen.

Granted, he doesn't know publishing or anything, but he did have an interesting thought I hadn't even considered. He said that the problem he sees is that as more bad products get listed on Amazon, fewer people will buy from there. He basically said that, as a customer, if he buys anything and the product turns out to be sub-par, he's going to stop buying from there.

I think that right now, Amazon is working on the assumption that large numbers selling a few copies will make it worthwhile because across the boards even a dollar or two of 100,000 is a fair amount of money. However, they might be shooting themselves in the foot. If customers try to buy books and find increasing numbers of them that are poor quality, they might actually start losing customers. It's kind of odd to think that Amazon, basically the king bookseller, might lose it's standing, but his logic made sense. No idea if he'll turn out to be right or not, but it definitely was something to consider.

Amadan
05-09-2011, 11:20 PM
Many writers self-publish because they couldn't get the book commercially published. I have yet to see someone who has said that who then has a viable book when I go and read the samples.

Yes, x1000. I have to be honest -- I have checked out a lot of self-published books (including many written by AWers), and the best thing I can say about any of them is that some had writing that was technically competent.


It's a good thing because it allows virtually anyone to express themselves and to make the attempt to make a buck or two off their work. It's a good thing because freedom of expression is one of the foundations of a free (or free-er) society and that alone makes things better in my opinion. It's a good thing because some writers will get what they want to say off their chests and be done with it. It's a good thing because some writers will make their careers this way.

Hope is a powerful thing. Everyone needs to have hope, few more so than writers, again in my opinion.

That's all true enough, but if someone's ambition is just to have a few readers and make a buck or two, you can write fan fiction. The problem is that most self-publishers obviously have much higher aspirations, and thus, in most cases, unrealistic expectations.

Capital
05-09-2011, 11:53 PM
I actually was discussing this issue with my boyfriend the other day, just giving him a rundown of the situation without anything but context, and asked what he thinks will happen.

Granted, he doesn't know publishing or anything, but he did have an interesting thought I hadn't even considered. He said that the problem he sees is that as more bad products get listed on Amazon, fewer people will buy from there. He basically said that, as a customer, if he buys anything and the product turns out to be sub-par, he's going to stop buying from there.

I think that right now, Amazon is working on the assumption that large numbers selling a few copies will make it worthwhile because across the boards even a dollar or two of 100,000 is a fair amount of money. However, they might be shooting themselves in the foot. If customers try to buy books and find increasing numbers of them that are poor quality, they might actually start losing customers. It's kind of odd to think that Amazon, basically the king bookseller, might lose it's standing, but his logic made sense. No idea if he'll turn out to be right or not, but it definitely was something to consider.

Oh absolutely. Amazon thinks they are OK to do this for awhile, because of their (let's face it) monopoly/huge market share. Well it won't last long unless they are start fixing up their model.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 12:10 AM
if someone's ambition is just to have a few readers and make a buck or two, you can write fan fiction.

Ummm... no. ;)

FOTSGreg
05-10-2011, 12:17 AM
Amadan et al, that's why most self-publishers will fail.

I'm sorry to say it that bluntly, but it's highly-likely in my opinion.

As someone famous once said "Ninety percent of everything is crap".

Amazon and Smashwords are verifiable examples of that statement. My own work is a verifiable example of that statement.

Yet, I have hope. I continue to improve. I ask questions of people I'm in contact with who have been writing for decades. I TRY to improve.

Most people who put something up on Smashwords or Amazon don't even know it is possible to improve, that they need to work on the craft in order to improve, that they need to read to improve, that they need to edit or have edited a work in order to improve, or that their work, fresh off the printer isn't the best thing that's ever been published in the whole history of the planet Earth.

Honestly, I've seen some of these people responding to public edits (and not so public edits).

Of course, I've seen editors take a tone of "it'll be years before you're good enough to be professionally published" as well.

That's the kind of gatekeeper the industry does not need in my opinion.

Naturally, the industry cannot return to the old "nurturing" days either. It would be far too time-consuming. However, one might view the self-publishing sites such as Amazon or whatever as a sort of "nurturing" stage where an aspiring writer can cut his teeth, make a sale or two, recognize which stories work and which don't, and continue to improve over the years.

Just a thought...

Amadan
05-10-2011, 12:18 AM
Ummm... no. ;)

Duoh! You're right of course. (Although I have seen some fan fic writers try...)

FOTSGreg
05-10-2011, 12:19 AM
Oh, yeah. You cannot earn money off fan fiction. At least you"d better not if you don't want a contact and a Cease&Desist order coming from an attorney in your mailbox.

Amadan
05-10-2011, 12:25 AM
Naturally, the industry cannot return to the old "nurturing" days either. It would be far too time-consuming. However, one might view the self-publishing sites such as Amazon or whatever as a sort of "nurturing" stage where an aspiring writer can cut his teeth, make a sale or two, recognize which stories work and which don't, and continue to improve over the years.


My take on it, and why I am less optimistic about the notion that self-publishing is a stepping stone to professional publishing, is what you touched on -- most people who are self-publishing don't realize that their writing does, in fact, suck.

I suppose some people might know they need to improve and see this as "practice," but honestly, how many people would put writing up for sale that they know isn't professional quality work? I think most of the self-publishers really do think they're good enough and after a few rejections by agents, they're convinced that getting commercially published is just a roll of the dice.

It used to be, people like that would either give up, or they'd keep working at it until eventually they were good enough to be published. Now, though, they see self-publishing as a way to "bypass" the gatekeepers.

Some of them probably can become good enough to be professionally published, but not while they're just throwing more work online and convincing themselves that a few sales here and there is enough encouragement to keep producing the same caliber of work.

Capital
05-10-2011, 12:32 AM
As someone famous once said "Ninety percent of everything is crap".


I disagree with this. I think only eighty percent of everything is crap.

AP7
05-10-2011, 12:35 AM
My take on it, and why I am less optimistic about the notion that self-publishing is a stepping stone to professional publishing, is what you touched on -- most people who are self-publishing don't realize that their writing does, in fact, suck.

I suppose some people might know they need to improve and see this as "practice," but honestly, how many people would put writing up for sale that they know isn't professional quality work? I think most of the self-publishers really do think they're good enough and after a few rejections by agents, they're convinced that getting commercially published is just a roll of the dice.

It used to be, people like that would either give up, or they'd keep working at it until eventually they were good enough to be published. Now, though, they see self-publishing as a way to "bypass" the gatekeepers.

Some of them probably can become good enough to be professionally published, but not while they're just throwing more work online and convincing themselves that a few sales here and there is enough encouragement to keep producing the same caliber of work.

But why is this the focus? The focus of our discussions should be on what is best for professionals and aspiring professionals. Not obsessing on those who will never be professionals regardless of which road they choose. Your position appears to be that the cream always rises to the top and that the cream should always pursue rising to the top the old fashioned way. Duly noted.

Amadan
05-10-2011, 12:41 AM
But why is this the focus? The focus of our discussions should be on what is best for professionals and aspiring professionals. Not obsessing on those who will never be professionals regardless of which road they choose. Your position appears to be that the cream always rises to the top and that the cream should always pursue rising to the top the old fashioned way. Duly noted.

I wouldn't say always. But most of the time, yeah. Which is why my focus is, in fact, on people who would probably be better-served by trying to become professional writers professionally.

Roger J Carlson
05-10-2011, 12:46 AM
But why is this the focus? The focus of our discussions should be on what is best for professionals and aspiring professionals. Not obsessing on those who will never be professionals regardless of which road they choose. Your position appears to be that the cream always rises to the top and that the cream should always pursue rising to the top the old fashioned way. Duly noted.Actually, the focus of this forum, as with all of the forums on AW, is to present pertinent information so writers can decide what's best for themselves. Much of the recent controversy has been over what is truth, distortion, and plain falsehood. It's really no one's place to decide anything for anyone else.

Terie
05-10-2011, 12:54 AM
What will amaze me and change my mind is, seeing a self-published author hit it big, and I mean big time big-- articles, media, GMA interview, even an article in the NY Times. These authors get noticed, but, they don't seem to hit it big with self-publishing and that's why there still seems to be a negative stigma-although I agree, unfair.

Um. Amanda Hocking?

There are several folks making it big in self-publishing, and good for them. It's always good to see a writer succeed. It's still only a tiny number, but it's undeniably happening.

What bothers a lot of us is that many see that success and don't understand just how exceptional it really is. Instead, many folks seem to think that it's a new norm.

James D. Macdonald
05-10-2011, 01:35 AM
As someone famous once said "Ninety percent of everything is crap".


That's Sturgeon's Law. But what he really said was, "...is crud." Ted Sturgeon was a gentleman; he would never have said "crap."

Of course, he was talking about professionally published works. When you're talking about the slush pile, it's lots closer to 99%.

What was the last e-book you bought?

Why did you buy it?

Answer those questions and you'll know how to sell your own e-books.

RemusShepherd
05-10-2011, 01:44 AM
'Prolific' doesn't mean 'good'. It just means they can pump out more stories quickly. Some write quickly very well, others, not so much.

Writing, as I mentioned to a writer friend of mine, is not like sewing tea cozies and selling them at a craft show. They are not a 'commodity' or a product of mass production. Each story is an individual project, requiring (if you're good at it) a lot of sweat and tears and thought and construction. If you can't write worth sh*t, it won't matter if you produce like rabbits.

Electronic 'shelf space' is free. If you are prolific, you can acquire more shelf space than other authors -- your name comes up more in lists of available books. You also give readers a more satisfying experience in that if they like your writing they can go back and buy your entire back catalog. For both of those reasons, prolific authors are in a much better position to make a career out of self-publishing today.

Their writing still has to be good, of course. But if a prolific writer puts out three times the books as a regular author, they can potentially make three times the income and generate three times the word of mouth publicity. This is only possible in a world where backlogs never go out of print and shelf space is unlimited, and that's the world we're entering now.

It's supply and demand. The demand these days is huge. Those with the most supply are the ones most likely to win.

FOTSGreg
05-10-2011, 01:50 AM
Amadan, here's my viewpoint, and why I've chosen self-publishing as my venue (of the moment and decidedly not excluding commercial publishing).

I spent decades, literally, doing technical and game writing. I'm not a household name by a long shot, but I know where to drop a comma and when to add an apostrophe, or so I think (some things still baffle me from time to time). I have the technical details of writing down pretty well.

Storytelling? Now that's a whole different animal.

Building whole worlds up out of nothing without some engineer or scientist bending over your shoulder and telling you "It's got to say this"?

Easier than you might expect.

My viewpoint is that my writing does not, in fact, suck. My storytelling sucks. Or did. That's why I need a beta reader and an editor (and why I use one or two or a dozen down in SYW and elsewhere).

It's also why I use both ruthlessly when I need to.

It's also part of the reason I'm here on AW - to learn and to sit at the feet of such people as James MacDonald and J.M. McDermott and Willie Meinkle and listen and learn from them.

It's unfortunate that I'd bet that 90% of the people putting stuff up on Amazon don't even realize that places like AW exist at all. They see outfits like Publish America and they think that's a great place to publish until they see the price tag. Then they see Amazon.

Hey, neat! I can publish for free there anything I want.

So you get political screeds, thinly-disguised porn, book's put together by people who barely can string two words together to form a coherent sentence, and parents putting up their child's latest scribblings (which in some cases are better than the stuff put up by some adults). You get incoherent ramblings by people think they're telling a story, but who have no clue. Etc., etc., etc.

Last, you get people who have been through the wringer, who have stories and novels and book's to sell, who have good stories to tell, who have been stymied by the "system" of commercial publishing. they've tried for years to get a story commercially published, but they've failed year after year after decade for one reason or another.

A handful of people in New York get to decide who gets their work published every year. That handful of people have a stable of writers they know they can count on produce a good story or book, and a shit load of unsolicited manuscripts they have to wade through to find a gem in. Then, they have to spend time cutting a diamond put of that raw rock when they could be working on stories and writers they know wil sell their magazines and make their publishers money.

Why in hell would they spend more than a few minutes at most looking at the slush from a no name wannabe with no publishing credits whatsoever?

Other than professional integrity?

PI only holds together for so long.

Sooner or later a writer starts to wonder if it's worth it to continue to submit to the pro markets. You always hope, but there's a point where you take any port in a storm.

Amazon's not just any point in a storm, they'll pay you if your work sells. Smashwords does the same thing. I'm not going to quit my day job based on my sales on either platform, but you know what? Some people out there like mybwork and are buying my work.

If I'd let a New York editor decide the issue for me I'd still be unpublished.

I may not be good enough for New York standards, but I'm damned well good enough for some.

That's good enough for me.

I'll get better.

Most won't.

scope
05-10-2011, 01:55 AM
Amazon or whatever as a sort of "nurturing" stage where an aspiring writer can cut his teeth, make a sale or two, recognize which stories work and which don't, and continue to improve over the years.

Just a thought...

The problem with this is that the ebook market would be even more saturated (sheer volume) than it is today and will increasingly be tomorrow, to say nothing of the junk that would be added to the pile. I don't think we should look at the ebook market as a "nuturing" place or a "leaning ground" but rather as a marketplace where quality books can be found. Hopefully, that's what it will become.

GameMasterNick
05-10-2011, 02:10 AM
Slush piles seem to be moving from publishing house floors / inboxes to self-publish channels...
as hard as it can be for a seasoned editor / publisher to sort through the slush...
imagine how much fun it will be for readers...

Then realize that they won't and that writing is on the verge of being reduced to the "pre-fab" pop culture that indie musicians face. *shudder*

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 02:16 AM
. . . ebook market . . . as a marketplace where quality books can be found. Hopefully, that's what it will become.
Already is, IMHO. How many significant new releases (whether serious nonfiction, serious fiction, or well written genre books) are you not finding in the ebook stores?

--Ken

scope
05-10-2011, 02:23 AM
Electronic 'shelf space' is free. If you are prolific, you can acquire more shelf space than other authors -- your name comes up more in lists of available books. You also give readers a more satisfying experience in that if they like your writing they can go back and buy your entire back catalog. For both of those reasons, prolific authors are in a much better position to make a career out of self-publishing today.

Their writing still has to be good, of course. But if a prolific writer puts out three times the books as a regular author, they can potentially make three times the income and generate three times the word of mouth publicity.
It's supply and demand. The demand these days is huge. Those with the most supply are the ones most likely to win.

While electronic shelf space may be free, unto itself that may be a problem. Heck, as we well know anyone can upload anything they write and clog the shelves with an inordinate amount of junk. Accordingly, well written ebooks become harder to find and increasingly associated with a junk source.

In some business' the greater one's exposure, sometimes the better. Only sometimes because any lack of quality can easily topple the entire pile. So I don't buy the proposition that the the more prolific you are, the better off you will be. It's don't think it's that simple. You use the word "good", but I don't know what that word means. I prefer the concept of quality books that readers want to, and do purchase, however long that takes. If a writer can that once every year (quite ambitious) s/he will be very well off, however their book is published.

AmsterdamAssassin
05-10-2011, 02:25 AM
In my opinion, anything that gets people to read [more] is a boon to writers. E-readers are the cool new toy of the moment, but they seem to be most wanted by people who actually haven't bought many books -- people who buy many books don't seem too eager to buy e-readers. So it appears to be that more people are reading now than before the e-reader 'explosion'. Or, at least, buying more [e-]books.

Self-publishing e-books seems to be more profitable than self-publishing print books [due to the high start-up costs], and some self-publishers actually produce readable books [Hocking, Locke] against prices people seem to like, so arguably, self-publishing is on the rise and seems to lose some of its stigma.

In the end, more people reading is good for all writers. Even if the self-publishers drown in their own garbage, there are still an enormous amount of e-readers sold, and many owners who have bought cheap self-published crap, might find themselves liking the medium, but not the content and move to more professionally published e-books. And that could benefit both the serious self-publisher and the trade-published author whose work is made e-vailable by his/her trade publisher.

Disclaimer: all of the above is mostly conjecture, which is why I put 'seems' into every other sentence.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 02:27 AM
Electronic 'shelf space' is free.

No, it's not, dude.

That's why Amazon, and Fictionwise, and iBooks etc. etc. keep part of the cover price of the book.

And if you look at Amazon's quarterlies, and the costs of their server farms, you start seeing that eventually, they'll be on the downside curve if the current data metrics for non-selling ebooks hold.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 02:30 AM
It's supply and demand. The demand these days is huge. Those with the most supply are the ones most likely to win.

Well, no, there too there's a bunch of stuff by people like Claude Shannon and Sharkey and even the Clue Train Manifesto.

Look at fanfic. Look at the fan fict that's really popular and well written.

Quality will out over quantity.

Look at data metrics about signals and communication theory in terms of signals and recipients.

If there are too many signals, the receivers, whether organic or not, will stop paying attention.

scope
05-10-2011, 02:30 AM
Already is, IMHO. How many significant new releases (whether serious nonfiction, serious fiction, or well written genre books) are you not finding in the ebook stores?

--Ken

Ken,

I know waaay less than you about the ebook market, although I intend to dip my toe in the water fairly soon with a niche nonfiction work. However, aside from a few works of fiction and niche market books, I see far more garbage than I ever have with trade produced paper books.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 02:32 AM
Already is, IMHO. How many significant new releases (whether serious nonfiction, serious fiction, or well written genre books) are you not finding in the ebook stores?

--Ken

Exactly.

Mostly, now the concern is over the backlist; there are lots of good books out there that are not in print.

I'm hearing excitement from a lot of editors about books they love and really would like to get into ebook form, even though in some cases a print run doesn't make sense.

I think that's going to be really interesting, once we get the control of the production and work flow and QA issues.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 02:35 AM
Ken,

I know waaay less than you about the ebook market, although I intend to dip my toe in the water fairly soon with a niche nonfiction work. However, aside from a few works of fiction and niche market books, I see far more garbage than I ever have with trade produced paper books.

I think Ken's point, and I may be mis-reading, is that new releases are more often than not being released in ebook form pretty quickly.

I can find all the current NYT bestsellers on iBooks, for instance.

Publishers are working hard to master the alternative production workflows--the fact that there are so many vendors, with different requirements and file formats is frustrating.

I'm hearing from a lot of authors with e-rights to older books who are trying to figure out what formats and vendors to use.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 02:39 AM
. . .I see far more garbage than I ever have with trade produced paper books.
You are looking in the other end of the telescope I had in mind. I don't randomly look for books and therefore do not have to slog through a lot of listed dreck. I read a good review in NYTimes, WSJ, etc., or see someone on, say, MSNBC or CNBC talking about a new book that looks promising, I check the Kindle store and a minute later have the sample or the whole book. Rarely do I not find what I am looking for. Stay out of the dump and you don't see the garbage.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 02:42 AM
I think Ken's point, and I may be mis-reading, is that new releases are more often than not being released in ebook form pretty quickly.. . . .
Not just quickly. In my experience, immediately -- ready for pre-order, even. That's how I got recent major book on Malcolm X, for example, and the big new Mark Twain bio (vol. 1), and last fall the magnificent Warmth of Other Suns. Preordered. They showed up on morning of release. I could list more. Cannot pre-order a sample, but it seems that if I want to preorder, I'm ready to buy the book anyway.

--Ken

scope
05-10-2011, 02:48 AM
E-readers are the cool new toy of the moment, but they seem to be most wanted by people who actually haven't bought many books -- people who buy many books don't seem too eager to buy e-readers.

Yes, e-readers are the hot at the moment, however, from what sources do you draw these other conclusions? I've never heard them before.


In the end, more people reading is good for all writers.

Agreed, as long as the majority of what they read is quality. Reading poorly edited, poorly written books, regardless of publication type, is a turn-off.

Even if the self-publishers drown in their own garbage, there are still an enormous amount of e-readers sold, and many owners who have bought cheap self-published crap, might find themselves liking the medium, but not the content and move to more professionally published e-books.

Sorry, but this makes no sense to me. It implies that if people constantly read junk, they will say to themselves: Well, I've read 20 horrendous books, so it's time for me to try and find some quality ebooks. I think they are more likely to give up on ebooks.



ss

Amadan
05-10-2011, 02:52 AM
Why in hell would they spend more than a few minutes at most looking at the slush from a no name wannabe with no publishing credits whatsoever?

Other than professional integrity?

PI only holds together for so long.

How much more than a few minutes do you need? Let's face it, most manuscripts can be sorted into "unpublishable" or "possibly publishable" at a glance, and certainly by the end of the first page.


Amazon's not just any point in a storm, they'll pay you if your work sells. Smashwords does the same thing. I'm not going to quit my day job based on my sales on either platform, but you know what? Some people out there like mybwork and are buying my work.

I wouldn't say they're anything more than a port in a storm, since they make no investment and take no risk in "publishing" you. They aren't paying you, they're just collecting a cut if other people are willing to pay you.


I may not be good enough for New York standards, but I'm damned well good enough for some.

That's good enough for me.

Fair enough; I think many self-publishers share your sentiment. Personally, I'd rather polish my work to publishable quality, though. Maybe if I try to sell something for years and never succeed, I'll settle for putting it up on Smashwords with a shrug, but for now, I write fan fiction for my ego-stroking needs. :D

The problem I see is that the rise of the self-publishing industry is facilitating the Special Snowflake syndrome. I've even seen it in the official posts from the founder of Smashwords, who is also pushing the "Print publishing is dying because of out-of-touch New York gatekeepers" kool-aid.

scope
05-10-2011, 02:53 AM
I think Ken's point, and I may be mis-reading, is that new releases are more often than not being released in ebook form pretty quickly.
.

If that's the case I stand corrected and my remarks should be ignored. Thank you

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 02:54 AM
. . . people who buy many books don't seem too eager to buy e-readers.. . .
I have thousands of books and have been a relentless book-buyer, reader, and accumulator for several decades. Bought a Kindle for exactly that reason. No more room for printed books. Not willing any more to lug around all my current books of interest in print. Kindle is a godsend. Am I atypical in that respect? I doubt it.

Seems to me that it is precisely the book-buyers who acquire e-readers, and for reasons more or less like my own.

--Ken

scope
05-10-2011, 02:55 AM
Stay out of the dump and you don't see the garbage.

--Ken

The only reason I'm in the dump is that I'm trying my best to learn what this marketlace consists of. But, point well taken.

Steve

Amadan
05-10-2011, 02:58 AM
In my opinion, anything that gets people to read [more] is a boon to writers. E-readers are the cool new toy of the moment, but they seem to be most wanted by people who actually haven't bought many books -- people who buy many books don't seem too eager to buy e-readers. So it appears to be that more people are reading now than before the e-reader 'explosion'. Or, at least, buying more [e-]books.

Yeah, I know you said this is just conjecture but seriously, where do you get this notion? My own anecdotal evidence is directly contrary to yours; ereaders are mostly bought by people who are regular readers already, and buying an ereader increases the amount of reading they do.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 03:26 AM
E-readers are the cool new toy of the moment, but they seem to be most wanted by people who actually haven't bought many books -- people who buy many books don't seem too eager to buy e-readers.

Actually, it's just the opposite.

Active, aggressive compulsive readers are the current adapters.

The first early adapters tended to be people who did a lot of flying for work; the first software ereaders for computers (ereader, .pdf etc) were designed for PDAs (mostly from Palm) and laptop computers.

Now, we're seeing ereaders on smart phones, and dedicated devices like Kindle and Nook, and those are absolutely being bought by the people who read / buy many books.

It was interesting to see just how many people I saw on the subway in NYC reading Kindles and Nooks and iPads; three or four on every single train, just in my compartment.

movieman
05-10-2011, 03:27 AM
My own anecdotal evidence is directly contrary to yours; ereaders are mostly bought by people who are regular readers already, and buying an ereader increases the amount of reading they do.

Same here: I don't have an ebook reader and just use my laptop, but the ease of buying ebooks, and the ease of storing them, means I've been buying them more often than I do paper books.

However, I'm not likely to be paying $9.99 for them when I can buy a paperback for $6.99.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 03:35 AM
It's supply and demand. The demand these days is huge. Those with the most supply are the ones most likely to win.

I'm still not sure about the "most likely". I have X amount of money to spend on books, and Y amount of time to spend reading. I want the most bang for my buck, both in terms of money and time. So if I can buy 10 'adequate' books from one author, or two excellent books from another, I'm going to buy the two excellent books, and that's also the author whose next book I'm willing to wait for. I don't care if the 'adequate' author puts up 10 more books in the meantime.

zegota
05-10-2011, 03:49 AM
Same here: I don't have an ebook reader and just use my laptop, but the ease of buying ebooks, and the ease of storing them, means I've been buying them more often than I do paper books.

However, I'm not likely to be paying $9.99 for them when I can buy a paperback for $6.99.

Right, I don't think $9.99 is necessarily an offensive price point, but why pay it if you can get a paperback cheaper?

Everyone always says that publishers have their reasons for their decisions, and I'm sure they do, but it seems like they'd make a boatload of cash (at least from me) if they all offered a package with the paperback and ebook at, say, $10 or $11. Instant gratification via your ereader, and a tangible copy few days later.

jnfr
05-10-2011, 05:53 AM
What will amaze me and change my mind is, seeing a self-published author hit it big, and I mean big time big-- articles, media, GMA interview, even an article in the NY Times. These authors get noticed, but, they don't seem to hit it big with self-publishing and that's why there still seems to be a negative stigma-although I agree, unfair.

I am differently amazed, I guess, because I am happy every time I hear another writer has made enough money to pay even one mortgage payment or utility bill. I celebrate their success.

Very few will ever hit the highest point, no matter which route they take. That's a fact of life. But any route that allows writers to find readers and be paid for it is a good thing in my mind, and I wish them well.

Old Hack
05-10-2011, 09:52 AM
I was told by a good friend (and yes, I know I should cite my sources here and not rely on anecdotal evidence but it was Nicola Morgan who told me this, who has published over 90 books, has a fab blog and was Chair of the Scottish branch of the SoA for a long time) that the average reader--not the average person, but someone who considers themselves a reader--buys just six books a year.

Six books a year. I read that many every month.

I'm interested to see if and how e-readers change that number. But my main point is that if readers are buying just six books a year it seems to me that they're buying quality over quantity (or, more probably, are buying a known brand), and not only won't they even look at most of those 99c books, they won't even know they exist.

MacAllister
05-10-2011, 10:12 AM
...Six?

...

Oh lordy. Somtimes I read that many books a week. Not every week, but still...

Now, admittedly, I don't buy that many, I use the library, I read a LOT of review copies and ARCs, and I frequent used book stores, too.

Six books a year? That's appalling.

Alitriona
05-10-2011, 11:34 AM
I bought 10 last week. I haven't used a library in years. Yeah, I know it's crazy. I read very few self-published. I read them if they have been recommended to me. If I'm going to spend 10 pound I would rather it's on one book I know I will read than taking pot luck with ten 99p books.

Old Hack
05-10-2011, 12:22 PM
...Six?

...

Oh lordy. Somtimes I read that many books a week. Not every week, but still...

Now, admittedly, I don't buy that many, I use the library, I read a LOT of review copies and ARCs, and I frequent used book stores, too.

Six books a year? That's appalling.

I know. Terrible, isn't it? And that's not "the population on average each buys six books a year", it's "people who consider themselves readers each buy six books a year". I think the research was carried out by the SoA.

In the 1980s a different research project (sorry, can't find a link but I have the paper somewhere in my files) discovered that only 25% of the UK's population had ever been inside a book shop. Not "had ever bought a book", "had ever been inside a book shop". I find this extraordinary still.

AmsterdamAssassin
05-10-2011, 12:27 PM
As to my anecdotal 'evidence', I'm in the Netherlands, so it might be different here. iPads are currently 'hot' here, and most people who buy them and start buying e-books are not people who frequent bookstores or libraries. People who read books and scour book markets are resistant against the e-readers and the iPads, both for cost and for the lack of being able to lend books to other people.
There are some people like me, who buy/lend books and have an e-reader, but they're not the majority here.
Over here, when I open my Kindle, people ask me if it's an iPad - the Kindle is rare in the Netherlands because it has to be ordered in the US and is a dedicated e-reader for Amazon. iPads are expensive and mostly bought by hip affluent people and technogeeks, not by readers. Mainly because the Dutch e-book market is small.

Sirion
05-10-2011, 12:54 PM
Call me a dewey-eyed dope, but I truly believe that if a work is good enough, some publisher, somewhere, will eventually pick it up if the author is diligent enough.

I've never liked the idea of self-publishing. To each his own, I guess.

Terie
05-10-2011, 01:31 PM
As to my anecdotal 'evidence', I'm in the Netherlands, so it might be different here. iPads are currently 'hot' here, and most people who buy them and start buying e-books are not people who frequent bookstores or libraries.

Can you cite a source for this? Has someone done a survey that shows that Dutch iPad owners who buy e-books don't frequent bookstores or libraries? Or, to put it another way, that Dutch iPad owners who don't frequent bookstores or libraries buy e-books?


People who read books and scour book markets are resistant against the e-readers and the iPads, both for cost and for the lack of being able to lend books to other people.

Can you cite a source for this?

gothicangel
05-10-2011, 03:10 PM
People who read books and scour book markets are resistant against the e-readers and the iPads, both for cost and for the lack of being able to lend books to other people.


A bit of a generalisation, don't you think?

I own a Sony Reader and I buy books wherever I see something I want to read: bookshop, supermarket, charity shops etc.

Momento Mori
05-10-2011, 03:20 PM
Am late to the discussion, but wanted to revert on this because I had a discussion with my agent last year about Andrew Wylie's self-publishing venture, which I thought might be relevant.


dgaughran:
Do you think Andrew Wylie was laughed at? Sonia Land?

As Old Hack pointed out, Andrew Wylie and Sonia Land were each talking about taking ebook rights for backlist books where publishers had not already taken the same because the original sale of rights predated electronic technology.

It wasn't a negotiating tactic for new books, it was a negotiating tactic for backlist titles that publishers wanted to release in electronic form. In that situation, the previous commercial success of the hard books in question served to mitigate the risks and costs in going down a self-publishing route and given who wrote those backlist titles (i.e. some of the biggest names in commercial and literary fiction) it was a tactic that carried more weight but also caused a lot of fallout for Wylie's other clients.

For those who want more information from verifiable sources:

- http://www.thebookseller.com/news/agents-warn-publishers-over-digital-rates.html Sonia Land wanted higher ebook royalties for Catherine Cookson's backlist. Cookson's sold millions of books in the UK and was for years the most borrowed author in British libraries. It's a move that's been criticised by other agents.

- http://www.thebookseller.com/news/random-house-wins-battle-over-e-rights-andrew-wylie.html - Andrew Wylie ended up removing 13 of his 20 self-published titles after challenges from Random House led to a negotiated settlement (albeit one that did see Wylie getting better royalty rates for his clients but which also saw him and his clients at one point blacklisted by Random House, who issued a statement on 27th July 2010 that it would no longer deal with him). Penguin also went after him hard for 'their' titles on his self-publishing list.

- http://www.thebookseller.com/news/wylie-backs-down-after-french-resistance.html and just to give the latest on Wylie, he's had to drop the idea of self-publishing etitles for French published books. For all the talk of epublishing crossing international borders, publishing remains a territorial business, subject to national laws and market vagaries. What works in some countries, won't work in all.

MM

shaldna
05-10-2011, 03:29 PM
That's interesting MM, thanks for the article links.

AmsterdamAssassin
05-10-2011, 04:14 PM
Can you cite a source for this? Has someone done a survey that shows that Dutch iPad owners who buy e-books don't frequent bookstores or libraries? Or, to put it another way, that Dutch iPad owners who don't frequent bookstores or libraries buy e-books?



Can you cite a source for this?

Do you read and speak Dutch? Can you visit the Amsterdam Scheltema store and chat with e-reader salesman? I'm sorry, but my 'sources' are not on the internet. Can't help you there.

Terie
05-10-2011, 04:27 PM
Do you read and speak Dutch? Can you visit the Amsterdam Scheltema store and chat with e-reader salesman? I'm sorry, but my 'sources' are not on the internet. Can't help you there.

IOW, you're stating anecdotal observations as if they're facts. You're a writer; you ought to know how to do this. You can say, 'A salesman at a local bookstore told me...' or 'An article in the (whatever) newpaper said that...'.

Instead, you just make highly unlikely statements and expect everyone here to believe that they're facts.

I have no trouble believing that most Dutch (or any other nationality) iPad owners aren't people who frequent bookstores or libraries; this is, after all, true of most populations. What I question is whether significant numbers of these non-bookstore-or-library-frequenting iPad owners are buying e-books in meaningful quantities. Buying one or a few e-books to give them a try, yeah, sure; I'd believe and even expect that. But suddenly turning into great readers when they weren't before (which is what you're implying)? I highly doubt it's happened more than a few times.

So I don't think that iPad owners (Dutch or otherwise) who haven't previously been bookstore or library patrons are going to have any meaningful effect on the e-book market.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 04:33 PM
I own a Sony Reader and I buy books wherever I see something I want to read: bookshop, supermarket, charity shops etc.

To be fair, you're not in the Netherlands (are you?), which is where he's referring to. ;) But I would like to see some documentation for the statements, even if it isn't on the internet (print sources work fine for me).

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 04:36 PM
the average reader--not the average person, but someone who considers themselves a reader--buys just six books a year.

Not disputing the number, but I'd be more interested in the mode rather than the mean.

Amadan
05-10-2011, 04:51 PM
Not disputing the number, but I'd be more interested in the mode rather than the mean.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/manmadediy-uploads-production/photos/5092/tumblr_l557idmhr71qczxc6o1_400.jpg

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 05:13 PM
I'm definitely in the camp that thinks self-publishing is good for all writers...now...and that is becaus of the change in technology.

In a world where the only real outlet for books was bookstores, and in that environment the big-six with their co-op purchased bookshelves dominated. It was difficult enough for a small press to make much inroads and virtually impossible for anyone self publishing.

When ebooks were a small % of the market, and only being used by early adopters. Self-publishing was still not viable because there was not enough people to 'take a chance' on someone new or unknown.

Now that ebooks are 29.5% of the market, and seeing how the big-six doesn't control ebook distribution there is finaly a market that self-published authors can leverage.

It seems to me that a lot of people are posting without any "real world" experience in this regard. They talk about asking others in the industry, or saying what their boyfriends say etc. What I can say is without it my life would be totally different then it is now. A few months ago I went to the office everyday because I had to in order to support my family. Now my husband's writing is making 3 times my six-figure salary and I can concentrate on building "living wages" for other authors in my small press.

Michael has sold more than 60,000 books through self-publishing (and not priced a $0.99 - they sell for $4.95 - $6.95). And has nearly $200,000 in foreign rights sales, and a six-figure big-six contract. NONE of that would have happened without self publishing. He earned $160,000 in just 4 months with self-published books.

Nathan Lowell has sold more than 15,000 books (at $4.95) through my small press. He got there becuase he was thinking of self-publishing and Ridan picked him up and took his books to a level they might not have been able to reach on his own - but part of why I was able to do this is because in his genre (Science Fiction) there were already a lot of self-published authors selling well so it showed me there was a market for another "new guy" that is unknown and it worked. If he was competing only against big-six names it would have been a much harder road.

Marshall Thomas has sold 4,000 books in 9-days (prices vary from $0.99 - $4.99) His spike is directly related to the $0.99 price point that was pioneered by self-published authors. If self-publishing never existed to the level it does now we wouldn't see the $0.99 market that exists today.

So there you have examples of real people who are making a living wage and in Michael's case many hundreds of thousads of dollars that would have made $0 if there was no self-publshing/ebook revolution underway.

So is it good for writers? I'm sure they are not complaining.

Bottom line...today...with new distribution and new technologies authors CAN do well in self-publishing. Will everyone who tries succeed? Of course not. But the self-publshing revolution has opened up options. And not just for those self-published. As seen Marshall and Nathan are small-press published and it is BECAUSE of the self-publishing environment that they are able to do well.

When big-six was the ONLY option for publishing it meant that only a very few could make it to market. Many, many books fell to the wayside - not because they were not good enough, but because there was only so much bandwidth and the risks of the big-six model (large initial investmet) made them have to be very selective.

Now there are other legitmate and profitable avenues for these titles. The bandwidth has expanded, there's more room for more books. So yes...this is good for all writers.

Roger J Carlson
05-10-2011, 05:18 PM
As to my anecdotal 'evidence', I'm in the Netherlands, so it might be different here. iPads are currently 'hot' here, and most people who buy them and start buying e-books are not people who frequent bookstores or libraries. People who read books and scour book markets are resistant against the e-readers and the iPads, both for cost and for the lack of being able to lend books to other people.
There are some people like me, who buy/lend books and have an e-reader, but they're not the majority here.
Over here, when I open my Kindle, people ask me if it's an iPad - the Kindle is rare in the Netherlands because it has to be ordered in the US and is a dedicated e-reader for Amazon. iPads are expensive and mostly bought by hip affluent people and technogeeks, not by readers. Mainly because the Dutch e-book market is small.You're mixing 3 populations as if they were one.

1) iPads are not just e-readers or even primarily e-readers. iPads do a lot of things, so people will buy them for different reasons. So while it may be true that the majority of iPad users aren't frequent readers, that doesn't really mean anything in terms of whether frequent readers buy e-books or prefer bound books.

2) People who buy e-readers or iPads for the principle purpose of using it as an e-reader would almost certainly be people who frequent bookshops and libraries. People who don't frequent those places wouldn't buy an e-reader because they don't read much.

3) The third group is the super set of ALL readers. Some will prefer bound books and some will prefer e-books. Your assertion that frequent readers prefer bound books isn't really supported by the evidence you've presented because it doesn't represent this third group. It may be true in the Netherlands at present, but consider that the e-book market in the US was very different just 5 years ago. Things could change very quickly.

James D. Macdonald
05-10-2011, 05:44 PM
Call me a dewey-eyed dope, but I truly believe that if a work is good enough, some publisher, somewhere, will eventually pick it up if the author is diligent enough.

I'm the same kind of dewey-eyed dope.

I believe that if you can't interest an agent or editor in a given work that there's probably a positive dollar value in making sure it never sees the light of day.

Roger J Carlson
05-10-2011, 05:49 PM
Michael has sold more than 60,000 books through self-publishing (and not priced a $0.99 - they sell for $4.95 - $6.95). And has nearly $200,000 in foreign rights sales, and a six-figure big-six contract. NONE of that would have happened without self publishing. He earned $160,000 in just 4 months with self-published books.Having read Michael's books, I'd say it is attributable more to his ability to write than to self-publish.

For those who can write and produce a publishable book, self-publishing can be a boon. However, that doesn't translate into being good for all writers.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 06:12 PM
. . . When big-six was the ONLY option for publishing . . . .
Which was never the case. Not now,not ever.

--Ken

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 06:17 PM
Having read Michael's books, I'd say it is attributable more to his ability to write than to self-publish.

For those who can write and produce a publishable book, self-publishing can be a boon. However, that doesn't translate into being good for all writers.

Well I for one would never say that Michael does not put out a good product ;-) But there is the whole tree falling in the forest aspect as well.

I'm not saying self-publishing is good for all writers - I'm saying that because self-publishing has changed the landscape - this NEW landscape has been good for all writers.


I believe that if you can't interest an agent or editor in a given work that there's probably a positive dollar value in making sure it never sees the light of day.

Then that would be leaving hundreds of thosands of dollars out of author's pockets. There are many SP'ers that took their "rejected" books and went on to sell thousands of them, earning many living wages. And no...I'm not saying the opposite is true - that you can take any rejected book and sell thousands.


Which was never the case. Not now,not ever.--Ken

You've always been able to small press publish and self-publish but in the past only the outliers made any "real" money at it. In today's environment the number of people who are doing well in these two avenues makes it more likely to do so and actually get paid a decent wage.

Terie
05-10-2011, 06:26 PM
I'm not saying self-publishing is good for all writers - I'm saying that because self-publishing has changed the landscape - this NEW landscape has been good for all writers.

Okay, I'll bite. There's a woman in a Yahoo group I'm in who is an exceedingly bad writer. She very literally cannot write even a single sentence without making at least one error. I'm not exaggerating; among other things, she uses almost no punctuation. And English is her only language, so the issues aren't a matter of her not being a native speaker. (She's a lovely, generous person, so this is not a reflection on her character, only on her writing skills.)

She writes picture books. She has self-published (in print) one or more of her books. She is absolutely desperate to 1) get her books 'out there' and 2) sell them to a) recoup her investment and b) make more money to supplement her inadequate fixed income.

How is the new self-publishing landscape good for her and other writers like her (of which there are many)? What benefits can writers like her derive from this landscape?

Momento Mori
05-10-2011, 06:29 PM
And by way of update that's hot off the press, the Ed Victor Literary Agency in the UK announced it's own self-publishing venture:

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/ed-victor-sets-publishing-imprint.html

It's concentrating on backlist and OOP books by clients but is also looking at original short stories and potentially novels that it's not been able to sell.

Just thought I'd throw it into the mix.

MM

Old Hack
05-10-2011, 06:30 PM
Call me a dewey-eyed dope, but I truly believe that if a work is good enough, some publisher, somewhere, will eventually pick it up if the author is diligent enough.

I agree: but where many writers fall down is defining "good enough". That doesn't necessarily mean "beautifully written"; it has to contain a good element of "commercially viable" too.


Not disputing the number, but I'd be more interested in the mode rather than the mean.

That's an excellent point. I suspect the report my friend told me about concerned print books only as it was a while ago. I'll see if I can find out more and will report back if I do.


Now that ebooks are 29.5% of the market...

Just remember, Robin, that America is not the whole world (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/digital-sales-could-be-15-total-next-year-hudson.html) and I suspect you're only talking about Amazon's Kindle sales there, not e-books as a whole. As I think was said upstream (or maybe it was in a different thread--forgive me if that's the case) if you include other booksellers' figures e-books take a much smaller section of the market.


Michael has sold more than 60,000 books through self-publishing (and not priced a $0.99 - they sell for $4.95 - $6.95). And has nearly $200,000 in foreign rights sales, and a six-figure big-six contract. NONE of that would have happened without self publishing. He earned $160,000 in just 4 months with self-published books.

Nathan Lowell has sold more than 15,000 books (at $4.95) through my small press...

Marshall Thomas has sold 4,000 books in 9-days (prices vary from $0.99 - $4.99) ...

I'm really glad for your authors, and I congratulate them and you on these successes, which are extraordinary. Although I bet other writers have, can and will duplicate these levels of e-book sales successes (whether through small presses or self publishing) they're by no means the average, though, so we really can't use them as indicators of what can be expected.


When big-six was the ONLY option for publishing it meant that only a very few could make it to market.

But the big six has never been the only option for publishing. There have always been independent presses of many and various sizes, many of which (Bloomsbury, Canongate, etc) have excellent reputations.


Many, many books fell to the wayside - not because they were not good enough, but because there was only so much bandwidth and the risks of the big-six model (large initial investmet) made them have to be very selective.

I've seen lots of books which haven't had that large initial investment and trust me, it really showed. Many of them are unreadable. It's not a good route to take.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 06:39 PM
. . . if a work is good enough, some publisher, somewhere, will eventually pick it up if the author is diligent enough. . . ..
And if the author is still alive. No, I am not being facetious. I've known and worked with too many writers/authors in their 70s and 80s or with serious health/physical impairments not to understand that point. I published a memoir by a man who was not going to live long enough even to secure an agent, let alone a commercial publisher. I published two novels by a lady who was not going to live long enough in adequate health even to do more than a couple of signings or other promotion. (I had hoped otherwise, but it was not to be.)

Anyway, the phrase "good enough" begs the question (which is to say, assumes the conclusion). "Obviously," some will say, "the fact that it was never commercially published means that it was not good enough to be commercially published." That would have been said of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance if Robert Pirsig had given up one agent or publisher sooner, or of A Confederacy of Dunces had its late author's mother not persisted and gotten the manuscript into the hands of Walker Percy, or of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book had its authors given up after the 199th rejection rather than pushing on yet another time until Health Publications signed the book.

Sorry. I am persuaded that lot of "good enough" manuscripts end up unpublished and eventually discarded by heirs, and others end up consigned to vanity or subsidy publishing without the touches a commercial publisher would have brought to them. And woe be the author who has ONE fine book, and only one, as (and here I am slightly paraphrasing SourceBooks CEO Dominique Raccah, who keynoted a conference I helped to manage a year ago), "We publish authors, not books." She went on to explain that her company (a large independent) was not open to one-offs, but rather sought long-term, multi-book authors with the potential to establish a franchise, so to speak. Her implication was, I believe, that such is becoming (or already is) the norm, although she spoke only with specific reference to SourceBooks. That attitude eliminates the one-book author, especially in genres in which a series is the norm, no matter how "good enough" the book might be otherwise.

Even for an in-principle "good enough" book, "some publisher, somewhere" might be a vanity/subsidy press.

My views based on years of observation and experience. Take 'em for whatever they are worth.

--Ken

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 06:49 PM
Okay, I'll bite. There's a woman in a Yahoo group I'm in who is an exceedingly bad writer. She very literally cannot write even a single sentence without making at least one error. I'm not exaggerating; among other things, she uses almost no punctuation. And English is her only language, so the issues aren't a matter of her not being a native speaker. (She's a lovely, generous person, so this is not a reflection on her character, only on her writing skills.)

She writes picture books. She has self-published (in print) one or more of her books. She is absolutely desperate to 1) get her books 'out there' and 2) sell them to a) recoup her investment and b) make more money to supplement her inadequate fixed income.

How is the new self-publishing landscape good for her and other writers like her (of which there are many)? What benefits can writers like her derive from this landscape?

The example you cite has no effect on anything. She will have exactly the same success through each avenue: self,small press, or big-six which is zero. Nothing can help those with no talent. No changes in the industry will make her successful. Success will only be achieved for people with talent. And for talented people, the new environment benefits them.

shaldna
05-10-2011, 06:56 PM
One of the issues with self publishing that has to be taken into consideration is the availability of the books. This can have an effect on the success of the book, after all, if no one can find it.

Now, SP has had some success in electronic formats because it's easily available to people who read ebooks. It's all in the same place, SP and TP books together.

However, SP print books generally don't do as well, and part of that is because they are harder to get. Most bookstores don't carry SP books (be it for quality reasons or whatever) and so, if you only buy your books in brick and mortar shops then chances are you won't every buy a SP book.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 06:57 PM
You've always been able to small press publish and self-publish but in the past only the outliers made any "real" money at it. In today's environment the number of people who are doing well in these two avenues makes it more likely to do so and actually get paid a decent wage.
Only the outliers make any "real money" through commercial publishing, for that matter. And as someone long associated with self- and independent publishers (if eight years counts as long), I scoff at the notion that more than a small fraction earn a profit, let alone a living wage. (Some do very well. They are exceptional in more than one sense of the word. I've named names among my acquaintances.)

--Ken

Terie
05-10-2011, 06:59 PM
So on one hand you say this:


this NEW landscape has been good for all writers.

And on the other hand you say this:


The example you cite has no effect on anything. She will have exactly the same success through each avenue: self,small press, or big-six which is zero. Nothing can help those with no talent. No changes in the industry will make her successful. Success will only be achieved for people with talent. And for talented people, the new environment benefits them.

So you didn't actually mean 'all' writers the first time, did you?

shaldna
05-10-2011, 07:01 PM
The example you cite has no effect on anything. She will have exactly the same success through each avenue: self,small press, or big-six which is zero.

The OP was about SP being good for all writers, and I think Terie was trying to show how it WASN'T good for all writers.



Nothing can help those with no talent. No changes in the industry will make her successful. Success will only be achieved for people with talent. And for talented people, the new environment benefits them.

I agree to a point. But it's not just about talent, especially in SP. I mean, you can have all the talent in the world, but in SP you can never be just a writer, you have to be a salesman, a promoter, a distributer, a marketing exec, an accountant. Those are things that make SP hard for most people. It's part of the reason I don't SP, because I know that I'm not a business and sales type of person.

So, I think if you have talent and enough business and marketing sense then maybe you'll do well in the SP environment.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:02 PM
Just remember, Robin, that America is not the whole world (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/digital-sales-could-be-15-total-next-year-hudson.html) and I suspect you're only talking about Amazon's Kindle sales there, not e-books as a whole. As I think was said upstream (or maybe it was in a different thread--forgive me if that's the case) if you include other booksellers' figures e-books take a much smaller section of the market.

The 29.5% of total trade market has nothing to do with Amazon it is a US number as quoted by the AAP (American Association of Publishing) which posts the % of sales across the major publishers for ebook, hard cover, trade paperback, and mass market pper back.



I'm really glad for your authors, and I congratulate them and you on these successes, which are extraordinary. Although I bet other writers have, can and will duplicate these levels of e-book sales successes (whether through small presses or self publishing) they're by no means the average, though, so we really can't use them as indicators of what can be expected.

I don't believe I said anywhere that this is what can be "expected". But I will say, having been in the business for a number of years now, is that you can expect more today (in terms of $'s earned) then you could 3 years ago if you are self-published or small press published - and that is directly related to the changes in technology, and the success of self-publishers who have used this technology to create a market for their work.




But the big six has never been the only option for publishing. There have always been independent presses of many and various sizes, many of which (Bloomsbury, Canongate, etc) have excellent reputations.

Not saying there hasn't been...what I'm saying is the new environment is better now, not only for those you cite but fr many new players in the field.




I've seen lots of books which haven't had that large initial investment and trust me, it really showed. Many of them are unreadable. It's not a good route to take.

Large initial investment means print runs of several thousand, warehousing fees, dealing with return rates of 50% - 80%. None of which effect the book that what produced. These are overheads of a model that is difficult from a business perspective.

For those embracing the new model (POD and ebook) the initial investment for those activites has reduced to about $55 ($39 for CreateSpace Pro fees and about $16 for an ISBN). If you elimintate print books (which is logical for a small press or self-pbublisher) the investment in this overhead is $0.

AmsterdamAssassin
05-10-2011, 07:03 PM
IOW, you're stating anecdotal observations as if they're facts. You're a writer; you ought to know how to do this. You can say, 'A salesman at a local bookstore told me...' or 'An article in the (whatever) newpaper said that...'.

No, I clearly used 'seems' and 'conjecture' in my post to make sure that I'm not regurgitating facts. In the Netherlands, people are buying iPads because they're fashionable. And all the people [50 or so] I met with iPads [in Amsterdam] that I 'interviewed' about their use of the iPad, claimed that they also used the iPad to read books on. When I asked them when they last bought a printed book or visited a library, only three replied that they bought/lend books, but not with the frequency that they sampled and read e-books.

Because this is not a representative sample, I expressly used 'seem' in my original post, because I cannot back it up with hard numbers.

All I'm saying is that ANYTHING that promotes reading or makes reading hip and less stuffy, is a boon to writers both trade and self published.

However, the problem I see with this section of AW forum, is that even if someone clearly states that something is a personal observation and not meant to be taken as hard fact, the poster is still badgered into 'proving' his observation.

So I'll leave you to fight amongst yourselves. I'll stick to the worthwhile discussions, like Basic Writing, Novels and SYW.

Sheryl Nantus
05-10-2011, 07:05 PM
For those embracing the new model (POD and ebook) the initial investment for those activites has reduced to about $55 ($39 for CreateSpace Pro fees and about $16 for an ISBN). If you elimintate print books (which is logical for a small press or self-pbublisher) the investment in this overhead is $0.

What are you defining as "self-published" vs "small press published"?

I keep trying to figure out if you/Ridan are a self-publisher or a small press since your posts seem to keep mixing the two.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 07:08 PM
. . . if you only buy your books in brick and mortar shops then chances are you won't [ever] buy a SP book.
Yes, just so.

Looking at the other side of the issue, though, self-publishers (based on my observations over the years) who sell a lot of books -- tens of thousands and more -- are mostly NOT selling via the trade chain that ends in book stores. They are selling through personal appearances, seminars, websites, mailing lists, and other promotional efforts of their own. I've named names and will not repeat here. Yes, those are anecdotal, personal observations -- but it seems highly improbable that the folks I know personally are radically different from others across the country who engage in the same kinds of business.

Mind you, the large majority of my self-publishing acquaintances are lucky to sell in triple digits. But then, one of the finest commercially published books I have EVER read is selling, according to the last report I saw, in low triple digits (a few hundred copies in the last six-month reporting period) -- and it is published by a sizeable independent trade publisher in New York with distribution through Random House!

--Ken

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:08 PM
One of the issues with self publishing that has to be taken into consideration is the availability of the books. This can have an effect on the success of the book, after all, if no one can find it.

Now, SP has had some success in electronic formats because it's easily available to people who read ebooks. It's all in the same place, SP and TP books together.

However, SP print books generally don't do as well, and part of that is because they are harder to get. Most bookstores don't carry SP books (be it for quality reasons or whatever) and so, if you only buy your books in brick and mortar shops then chances are you won't every buy a SP book.

Very true, but you don't need big bookstore presence to make a living writing. Which is exactly my point...self-publishers can't get into bookstores but they can still be successful - why? Because they can still sell thousands through online channels. If your goal as a writer is to be in the bookstore - then you should avoid self-publishd, and most small presses and focus exclusively on big-six publishers as that is the avenue where you'll have the highest probability of bookstore shelf space. If your priority is earning money...then self-publshed or small-press published primarily through ebooks is a legitmate choice.

RemusShepherd
05-10-2011, 07:11 PM
I'm still not sure about the "most likely". I have X amount of money to spend on books, and Y amount of time to spend reading. I want the most bang for my buck, both in terms of money and time. So if I can buy 10 'adequate' books from one author, or two excellent books from another, I'm going to buy the two excellent books, and that's also the author whose next book I'm willing to wait for. I don't care if the 'adequate' author puts up 10 more books in the meantime.

Okay. But if you have time to read 10 books, and your favorite author only has two, what other eight books are you going to read? Assume the price is no object, because the prolific author can afford to sell his books for 1/5th the cost and still have the same gross income.

I'm surprised people here are so skeptical that the new rules of the game benefit prolific authors. I kind of hope you're right, as I'm not very prolific myself. :) But from a simple economic analysis it looks as if the fastest writers will win. It's changing from a buyer's to a seller's market, and those with the most to sell have the best chance of success.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:11 PM
Only the outliers make any "real money" through commercial publishing, for that matter. And as someone long associated with self- and independent publishers (if eight years counts as long), I scoff at the notion that more than a small fraction earn a profit, let alone a living wage. (Some do very well. They are exceptional in more than one sense of the word. I've named names among my acquaintances.)

--Ken

We'll just have to agree to disagree - I know many authors who earn six-figures. I know many more who make $50,000+. They all happen to be either self-publshished or small press published. I don't know a single big-six published author who earns that kind of money. But that may just be because of the circles I run in.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 07:14 PM
. . . self-publishers can't get into bookstores. . . .
Sure they can. It is not easy, and the bite taken through the trade chain runs to as high as 65 percent of list price (maybe even 70 percent) via distributor.

I know too many self-publishers with bookstore presence and have talked with too many book distributors to think otherwise.

--Ken

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:19 PM
So on one hand you say this:


this NEW landscape has been good for all writers.

And on the other hand you say this:



The example you cite has no effect on anything. She will have exactly the same success through each avenue: self,small press, or big-six which is zero. Nothing can help those with no talent. No changes in the industry will make her successful. Success will only be achieved for people with talent. And for talented people, the new environment benefits them.


So you didn't actually mean 'all' writers the first time, did you?

I do indeed mean "all" writers. It's just that the person you mention is not writer (IMO). Putting letters on paper (or writen electroniclly) does not a writer make. If that was the only requirement than children in kindergarden could be considered writers and almost every person in the business world as well, since we all write email.

I've never considered those that have no talent, perseverance, or skill as even worth talking about as they are non-issues. For them there is no path to publishing. When I talk about writers, I speak of those who "can" make a living because they have the three requirements above. The "path" they choose will be based on their own goals. But the fact remains that all thre paths have gotten better for writers with the recent boon in self-publishing.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:26 PM
I agree to a point. But it's not just about talent, especially in SP. I mean, you can have all the talent in the world, but in SP you can never be just a writer, you have to be a salesman, a promoter, a distributer, a marketing exec, an accountant. Those are things that make SP hard for most people. It's part of the reason I don't SP, because I know that I'm not a business and sales type of person.

So, I think if you have talent and enough business and marketing sense then maybe you'll do well in the SP environment.

But the OP wasn't saying that you have to self-publish. The OP said that even if you don't self-publish you will benefit from the self-publish revolution and I agree with that.

Small presses have a MUCH better business climate post self-publishing revolution then they did pre-self publishing revolution. There are more of them now than before (and many more popping up everyday) So YOU as a writer...if you chose to persue a small press will be better off now then if the self-publishing bon every occurred.

RemusShepherd
05-10-2011, 07:29 PM
Call me a dewey-eyed dope, but I truly believe that if a work is good enough, some publisher, somewhere, will eventually pick it up if the author is diligent enough.

Emphasis mine -- I wanted to highlight the catch in the above statement.

'Diligent enough' is sometimes outside of a person's ability. A person might give up on their dreams for all sort of reasons, from simple despair to serious health problems. Life happens.

Even when life cooperates, the current publishing industry is so broken that being 'diligent enough' can take superhuman patience. I have a manuscript on submission to a major publisher for 31 months. (The publisher knows me by name and yes, I inquired about it at the 20 month point.) I can't do anything else with that story until I get a response from that publisher. This kind of insane limbo can kill a career, if it doesn't kill the author first.

(But if you're reading this, publisher, I don't mean to rush you. Take as long as you need. I'm tough, I can handle the wait, and I intend to play by the rules of the game. :) )

All of this adds up to the fact that some works that are good enough -- and even some that are brilliant and beautiful -- do not get published because the authors do not have the strength to push their way through the current torturous system. Self-publishing will help those authors, and it will save some worthy books that otherwise would be lost.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:32 PM
What are you defining as "self-published" vs "small press published"?

I keep trying to figure out if you/Ridan are a self-publisher or a small press since your posts seem to keep mixing the two.

Not mixing at all - I'm not sure why you have such problems with this concept.

I cited three examples - one was self-published - two were small press publishd - all three benefitted because of self-publishing. All are published through Ridan.

Michael J. Sullivan - Self published as Ridan is my company and he is my husband - he did not have to be independently vetted and no third party invested money or effort in the books he published through Ridan.

Nathan Lowell and Marshall Thomas are both small press published. I had no prior acquaintence with them before agreeing to publish their works. They've paid nothing to get into print, and have had to do nothing - other than supply their manuscripts - Ridan takes care of the rest.

It seems pretty simple and straight forward to me.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 07:35 PM
Assume the price is no object, because the prolific author can afford to sell his books for 1/5th the cost and still have the same gross income.

But one has to assume price is relevant. People don't have unlimited funds. If we assume away reality, anything is possible. If I can only afford two excellent books, my time spent reading is not wasted, and whatever time I would have spent reading those other 8 'adequate' books will be spent on other worthwhile pursuits (instead of reading them and feeling dissatisfied and grumpy).

scope
05-10-2011, 07:41 PM
How is the new self-publishing landscape good for her and other writers like her (of which there are many)? What benefits can writers like her derive from this landscape?

I agree, completely. The problem I have with self-publishing doesn't lie with those who are good writers. One way or the other I believe most of them will get published, in time. My concern lies with those writers whose work isn't ready for publication but who are blinded by the "fools gold" offered by self-publishing. They get swallowed up and spit out. And their failure most often leads them to stop writing altogether.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:43 PM
I'm surprised people here are so skeptical that the new rules of the game benefit prolific authors. I kind of hope you're right, as I'm not very prolific myself. :) But from a simple economic analysis it looks as if the fastest writers will win. It's changing from a buyer's to a seller's market, and those with the most to sell have the best chance of success.

I also don't understand the skepticim. It seem pretty simple math to me that more books = more sales potential. I also don't know why the big-six resist this notion, especially when the most successful authors (Patterson, King, Steel) put out...a ton of books. I'm currently wrestling with a big-six contract as they are trying to slow down Michael's writing by prohibiting any other of his books from being released before theirs (even though their contract says they can take up to 24 months to put theirs out) and they want to prevent him from puting out any other book until six-months after theirs. So they want to lock out 2 1/2 years of his writing for the privlege of being published through them?

The above menatlity is just one of the things that I see will change - and directly because of the self-publishing revolution where the biggest successes have come from authors with multiple books - such as Hocking and Locke. Even in my own company - those that do the best (Sullivan, Lowell, Thomas) are those with multiple books.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 07:45 PM
post self-publishing revolution then they did pre-self publishing revolution.

I'm just wondering if this 'self-publishing revolution' is actually the 'e-publishing revolution'. Because it's actually that which is good for all writers; SPs are just taking advantage of it, along with trade and indie publishers. And I don't see SPs using e-pub affecting me at all, as I stated earlier.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:46 PM
Sure they can. It is not easy, and the bite taken through the trade chain runs to as high as 65 percent of list price (maybe even 70 percent) via distributor.

I know too many self-publishers with bookstore presence and have talked with too many book distributors to think otherwise.

--Ken

Of course you "can" - but is that where they are making the bulk of their income from? Is the small amount you make even worth the effort required?

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:54 PM
I have a manuscript on submission to a major publisher for 31 months. (The publisher knows me by name and yes, I inquired about it at the 20 month point.) I can't do anything else with that story until I get a response from that publisher. This kind of insane limbo can kill a career, if it doesn't kill the author first.

(But if you're reading this, publisher, I don't mean to rush you. Take as long as you need. I'm tough, I can handle the wait, and I intend to play by the rules of the game. :) )

It is exactly this that demonstrates both the problems with big publishing and with writers that want it so desperately that they are willing to be treated so poorly on the mere "hope" of achieving their blessing.

A system that make such a wait "the rules of the game" is inherently flawed and why the self-publishing revolution is good for writers. As more and more authors say - "I have another choice" and once publishers start feeling the pinch then they'll change their business model. But as long as writers like Remus (and I'm not trying to pick on you - I just think your post demonstrates this well) are willing to put up with this then they are contributing to their own mistreatment.

Nearly 3 years just for a "yes" or "no" - that's just masochistic (IMHO).

kaitie
05-10-2011, 07:54 PM
Robin, I'm with whoever else said they don't understand how you're statement applies to all writers. You basically said, "My books (and my company's books) sell a ton so therefore this is good for all writers.

But what about the thousands of writers whose books never sell. What about those writers who would like a commercial deal but go to self-publishing when they get rejected because it's easier (I have seen this going on so much over in the B&BC boards it's frightening) and then they not only don't sell, but might have to give up on a book that could have otherwise had a chance?

What about the fact that glutting the market with poor quality books might decrease demand for all ebooks, or self-published books, in the future? How does it help the authors who are published through small epublishers that might be thrown into the same category by readers who don't know better who then read fewer of those as well?

See, the fact of the matter is there are lots of epublishers out there with books and most of those see modest sales. If anything, you would expect them to be the ones leading the charge, but they aren't. Now, short of a lot of looking up figures it's impossible to tell why, but my guess is that the reason is because most books are selling more modestly than the few that are taking off. One could also argue that any book you publish don't count as self-published because you are a small press.

The fact of the matter is there are a lot of variables here. Might this turn out to be good for all writers? Maybe so. But your arguments are based around "See these guys did it so it's good for everyone" at the exclusion of every possible negative out there. We don't get to pick and choose arguments. I'm more than willing to admit that there are positives here, but even those should be looked at critically.

For instance, I think it's a great thing that self-published authors can actually have their work listed on Amazon and compete with other authors. On the virtual shelf everyone is the same, isn't that the theory? Well, considering the fact that most self-published authors have a very difficult time getting into bookstores even if their book is amazing, the simple act of self-publishing has been enough to sink most people in the past just because you couldn't get your books out there to readers.

So yeah, in that regard this is a good thing. But then you have to consider this: How on earth will anyone find your book when it's on a "shelf" with 800,000 others? When you don't have a fan base or a brand name or a marketing team and you have a hard time finding reviews? So yes, a self-published author is now on the shelf, but the shelf is so huge that it's impossible to sort through. Most readers won't go through hundreds of pages on Amazon to read a new author. You can't even sort through to the $.99 cent books because there are so darn many free ones that you can't get there. I've tried. I made it 122 pages of free ones before I gave up. So even if you have a good price point, a reader can't just say "sort low to high" and find your book.

And then you have to consider the fact that self-published folks have been on Amazon for years. This is nothing new. Sure, now they have an advantage because they can set their prices super low and take advantage of a new medium, but what happens when the novelty wears off or the market increases even more?

In fact, there are tons of small presses that list on Amazon and we recommend against them all the time because the books can't be discovered. Many of those are print, many are ebooks. Most of them say things like "the author's job is to promote" and other phrases which are basically code for "we have no distribution or marketing plans." Do you know what happens with most of those? Sales are low to nonexistent and they either shut down or become backdoor vanity presses that rely on authors buying their books rather than readers.

Being on Amazon in and of itself is not a guarantee to success, not when you have to compete against every other item out there. And I didn't make up that 800,000 number. I looked at the number of books available for the kindle.

A discussion is fine, but a discussion needs to be honest and realistic and willing to address all the factors. I'm not trying to be negative here. In fact, I hope this works out and turns into something good. It might, and it might not. I also think a lot of the doom and gloom scenarios people propose are going to turn out to be wrong, for what it's worth. But I do find it frustrating when people basically just ignore what are very valid points so that the argument comes out in your favor.

I'm not here to "prove" anything or make anyone believe my point. This is not a persuasive argument for me. It's a discussion. That means we discuss the pros and cons and what's going on.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 07:58 PM
My concern lies with those writers whose work isn't ready for publication but who are blinded by the "fools gold" offered by self-publishing. They get swallowed up and spit out. And their failure most often leads them to stop writing altogether.

On the other hand, I can point to dozens of writers who said that SP'ing has empowerd them and brought back the joy of writing for them. These are people who were chewed up and spit out by the query-go-round. Who would have stopped writing altoghether EXCEPT now they are finding fullfillment in self-publishing.

The door swings both ways.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 08:04 PM
I'm just wondering if this 'self-publishing revolution' is actually the 'e-publishing revolution'. Because it's actually that which is good for all writers; SPs are just taking advantage of it, along with trade and indie publishers. And I don't see SPs using e-pub affecting me at all, as I stated earlier.

There is no question that the two are tied as it is in the e-publishing that the SP's are making their lions share of the profit.

But it was the SP's not the small-presses that made dramatic inroads into the best seller lists. It was the SP's that started using $0.99 to get eyeballs on their works. If there were no SP's in the e-publishing world we would see e-publishing lists dominated by high priced $9.99, $12.99 and $14.99 books from the large trade publishers. Because guess what --- that's EXACTLY what the lists looked like 1 year ago. Because THAT was pre self-publishing revolution.

Now - we see several small presses making the Kindle Top 100 and even more sp'ers making the top 100. But the indies pressess alone were not able to do this - it was the SP'ers that did it.

RemusShepherd
05-10-2011, 08:05 PM
But as long as writers like Remus (and I'm not trying to pick on you - I just think your post demonstrates this well) are willing to put up with this then they are contributing to their own mistreatment.

Nearly 3 years just for a "yes" or "no" - that's just masochistic (IMHO).

I'm atypical. I don't care about money, as I have a good day job. I want the maximum number of readers possible, and that still requires the traditional publishers. If someone guaranteed me a million readers, I'd write anonymously and for free.

I also have no social skills so I know that I'd be terrible at promoting any self-published books. I need help with that. But if I were a saner, poorer person then I'd probably have gone to self-publishing years ago.

Self-publishing does not help a person like me. But it will benefit a lot of authors with good stories and basic salesman skills but not enough patience to suffer through the current system.

kaitie
05-10-2011, 08:05 PM
But the OP wasn't saying that you have to self-publish. The OP said that even if you don't self-publish you will benefit from the self-publish revolution and I agree with that.

Small presses have a MUCH better business climate post self-publishing revolution then they did pre-self publishing revolution. There are more of them now than before (and many more popping up everyday) So YOU as a writer...if you chose to persue a small press will be better off now then if the self-publishing bon every occurred.

How do you know? Yes, more pop up every day, and every day we warn authors against them because most of the ones popping up are run by people who have no idea what they're doing, have bad contracts, and have a very high potential to go down in the next year. I've seen several small publishers go under since I've been here and take their authors down with them. Yes, they're popping up everywhere--because everywhere you look the news is saying "this is the next big way to get rich." All you have to do is go and look at the B&BC threads for new companies and you'll see the red flags popping up everywhere. Even the most well intentioned people who are doing it out of love of books who really want it for the right reasons aren't likely to succeed if they don't have the business acumen or editing knowledge or how to make a cover or have a good marketing strategy.

And there have always been small presses. And authors have always had the option of pursuing them. I'm sure some of the new companies popping up will in a few years be seen as great, but right now? They're high risk at best.

And how has self-publishing been a boon for small publishers in general? Do they have more sales now because people have self-published? How would we even have any way of knowing that? I haven't heard anything lately about a lot of small presses making a huge increase in sales, and even if they were, how do we know that's not just a factor of more people buying a kindle in general?

Now, I'm not saying it isn't possible, but I look at these statements and one reads as not having enough information about what's going on because the fact of the matter is the huge increase in new epublishers is an iffy thing at best (not a good thing), and the other is something that couldn't possibly be based on more than anecdotal evidence or sheer speculation.

kaitie
05-10-2011, 08:11 PM
It is exactly this that demonstrates both the problems with big publishing and with writers that want it so desperately that they are willing to be treated so poorly on the mere "hope" of achieving their blessing.

A system that make such a wait "the rules of the game" is inherently flawed and why the self-publishing revolution is good for writers. As more and more authors say - "I have another choice" and once publishers start feeling the pinch then they'll change their business model. But as long as writers like Remus (and I'm not trying to pick on you - I just think your post demonstrates this well) are willing to put up with this then they are contributing to their own mistreatment.

Nearly 3 years just for a "yes" or "no" - that's just masochistic (IMHO).

So don't do it. *Shrugs* I don't see why this is an issue. I didn't want to do this, so I sent to agents instead. It took two books, but the second I began submitting in September, and I signed in February. I hardly think that's an exorbitant amount of time. Sure, it took two years (counting editing and preparation, not book writing time) to get there total, but I don't think that's too ridiculous, either. There are other options. And an agent is going to be more likely to get your work read quickly, which is also well known.

When you consider the thousands and thousands of submissions they receive that have to be read outside of normal business hours when they're already packed with work, I think it's easy to understand how it happens. That's why there have been other methods devised to help get around the super crazy long waits.

kaitie
05-10-2011, 08:13 PM
I'm atypical. I don't care about money, as I have a good day job. I want the maximum number of readers possible, and that still requires the traditional publishers. If someone guaranteed me a million readers, I'd write anonymously and for free.

I also have no social skills so I know that I'd be terrible at promoting any self-published books. I need help with that. But if I were a saner, poorer person then I'd probably have gone to self-publishing years ago.

Self-publishing does not help a person like me. But it will benefit a lot of authors with good stories and basic salesman skills but not enough patience to suffer through the current system.

Ditto. I used to think I'd go with a small press, just to get my foot in the door, you know? But now I'm like what the hell, I'm gonna shoot high. And considering my complete ineptitude at online promotion, I sure hope I can get a good marketing plan lol.

Sheryl Nantus
05-10-2011, 08:25 PM
I'm currently wrestling with a big-six contract as they are trying to slow down Michael's writing by prohibiting any other of his books from being released before theirs (even though their contract says they can take up to 24 months to put theirs out) and they want to prevent him from puting out any other book until six-months after theirs. So they want to lock out 2 1/2 years of his writing for the privlege of being published through them?


What does your agent advise? And are you prepared to walk away?

What does your husband think?

Terie
05-10-2011, 08:29 PM
I do indeed mean "all" writers. It's just that the person you mention is not writer (IMO). Putting letters on paper (or writen electroniclly) does not a writer make. If that was the only requirement than children in kindergarden could be considered writers and almost every person in the business world as well, since we all write email.

I've never considered those that have no talent, perseverance, or skill as even worth talking about as they are non-issues. For them there is no path to publishing. When I talk about writers, I speak of those who "can" make a living because they have the three requirements above. The "path" they choose will be based on their own goals. But the fact remains that all thre paths have gotten better for writers with the recent boon in self-publishing.

Wow. And just yesterday, someone else was giving grief in this forum merely because some people have stated that some writers' work just isn't good enough. Now this. Just wow.

Sheryl Nantus
05-10-2011, 08:35 PM
Wow. And just yesterday, someone else was giving grief in this forum merely because some people have stated that some writers' work just isn't good enough. Now this. Just wow.

Guess the next question then is what qualifies as "can make a living"...

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 08:40 PM
Of course you "can" - but is that where they are making the bulk of their income from? Is the small amount you make even worth the effort required?
Dunno, but I doubt that bookstore sales are "the bulk," or even close. But those who have been at it a long time apparently find value in having books in book stores, despite the tiny margins and the annoyances. One I know was pretty badly burned by the process (truckload of returns).

Anyway, having books in the trade, on at least the occasional book store shelf, adds credibility. More trouble and cost than I ever expect to go to.

--Ken

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 08:40 PM
Do you read and speak Dutch? Can you visit the Amsterdam Scheltema store and chat with e-reader salesman? I'm sorry, but my 'sources' are not on the internet. Can't help you there.

Someone in the Netherlands is buying books.

Between September and the end of March, sixty copies of my book about iPads, the first one, not the one that came out last week, were purchased in the Netherlands (according to Amazon).

14 of those were ebooks.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 08:42 PM
Robin, I'm with whoever else said they don't understand how you're statement applies to all writers. You basically said, "My books (and my company's books) sell a ton so therefore this is good for all writers.

But what about the thousands of writers whose books never sell. What about those writers who would like a commercial deal but go to self-publishing when they get rejected because it's easier (I have seen this going on so much over in the B&BC boards it's frightening) and then they not only don't sell, but might have to give up on a book that could have otherwise had a chance?

The mere fact that you say "could have otherwise had a chance" implies that you assume their only outcome in self-publishing is failure. For those that are hopeless - nothing will save them. For those that can write - any of the three options offer risks and rewards. Neither you or I can say for author x that made decision y it was good or bad. Only time and their own goals can determine that. Is it better to spend 3-years in the query-go-round with rejections or to self-publish and only get 20 sales? Both suck - but for you I think you would prefer the first. For someone else they might prefer the later. Try not to project YOUR goals ont other's decisions.



What about the fact that glutting the market with poor quality books might decrease demand for all ebooks, or self-published books, in the future? How does it help the authors who are published through small epublishers that might be thrown into the same category by readers who don't know better who then read fewer of those as well?


This is conjecture with no basis in fact. eBooks are the fastest growing segment of the market - and has been for a long time, posting tripple digit growth with each new report. In all that time there has ALWAYS been crap books in this venue and yet somehow it manages to keep going. I've never found any evidence, or read a single study that says readers decreased their book buying habits because of too much "junk" on the market. If you know of any - please post as I would very much like to read that.



One could also argue that any book you publish don't count as self-published because you are a small press.


Yes I have several small press authors and one self-published author that I draw experience from. The OP and my post in particular said why self-publishing was good for "all writers" (cavet that "all writers don't include the hopeless hacks who can't be sucessful regardless of path).

So the fact that self-publishing revolution has benefited BOTH of these demographics is right on point.



The fact of the matter is there are a lot of variables here. Might this turn out to be good for all writers? Maybe so. But your arguments are based around "See these guys did it so it's good for everyone" at the exclusion of every possible negative out there. We don't get to pick and choose arguments. I'm more than willing to admit that there are positives here, but even those should be looked at critically.

All "writers" are better off today then they were 3-years ago.

3-years ago very few (mainly those in non-fiction) could make any type of success in self-publishing - now even if you say the 60 - 100 I've talked about in the past are all "outliers" there are still 60 -100 of them now that weren't there 3 years ago.

Small presses have better options now then they did 3-years ago. There are more of them so writers have more potential buyers of the books - that's good for writers chosing that roads.

Big publishers are starting to look at self-publishers as a potential source for new talent - Michael, H.P. Mallory, Amanda Hocking, D. B. Henson - none would have their big-six contracts if they didn't first self-publish.

Big publishers WILL modify their contracts. They can't continue to retain and attract talent if they don't and if it wasn't for the SP revolution they woud have continued doing "business as usual.



How on earth will anyone find your book when it's on a "shelf" with 800,000 others? When you don't have a fan base or a brand name or a marketing team and you have a hard time finding reviews?

Midlist authors have been in exactly this situation for years. What did they do...they maketed themselves. Not every book that comes out from a big-six is treated equally. For many all they ever got was a page in that season's catalog. And in the days when bookstores ruled the book buying decision making that was sometime good enough. But those days are gone and we can't bring them back so we must adjust.

In the 80's all you neded to do was write and submit (and or the most part that's all you "could do". But that's not the world of 2011. Many writers say..."I don't want to market myself". My response is find another profession. Because no matter where you are published through you'll have to market yourself. Heck in Michael's big-six contract it is a REQUIREMENT.



It's a discussion. That means we discuss the pros and cons and what's going on.

I've not seen one piece of evidence that shows how writers are "worse" off post self-publishing revolution than pre self-publishing revolution. In the future that may not be the case. For instance if the self-publishing revoluion drives the price for ALL books to $0.99 and reading rates decline such that most authors can't earn a living at that rate - then yes we can say that the self-publishing revolution hurt writers. But we can have that discussion if/when that occurs. For now...2011 has it been a good thing for all writers? I think the answer is very clearly yes. Because they have more options and the options have shifted toward the author's benefit rather than keeping draconian business practices that were permissible when the options were fewer.

Capital
05-10-2011, 08:44 PM
This thread is driving places.

Having read last 4 pages, I stand by my original point that SP in itself is just fine. After all, people can SP both masterpieces and crap in all kinds of places all over the net.

The real issue comes in when a reputable distributor has zero filtering on SP work. So yeah, blame Amazon.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 08:46 PM
I'm atypical. I don't care about money, as I have a good day job. I want the maximum number of readers possible, and that still requires the traditional publishers. If someone guaranteed me a million readers, I'd write anonymously and for free.

I also have no social skills so I know that I'd be terrible at promoting any self-published books. I need help with that. But if I were a saner, poorer person then I'd probably have gone to self-publishing years ago.

Self-publishing does not help a person like me. But it will benefit a lot of authors with good stories and basic salesman skills but not enough patience to suffer through the current system.

Fair enough - what you are doing is in line with your goals - so more power to you. But...I do think you'll benefit from self-publishing because by the time you do get that contract it will be worded more toward the author's favor than if the self-publishing revolution never game into being. One example.....

Michael's contract says that if the publisher adjusts their ebook royalty upwards from the industry standard of 25% to a higher number - his rate will also increase. I see this as a direct reflection of pressure on the publisher by people complaining about the fact they can get 70% on their own. I don't think they would have added the escallation clause "just to be nice".

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 09:05 PM
How do you know?

Because I run a small press and I can tell you my business outlook is much brighter today than it was when I started.



Yes, more pop up every day, and every day we warn authors against them because most of the ones popping up are run by people who have no idea what they're doing, have bad contracts, and have a very high potential to go down in the next year. I've seen several small publishers go under since I've been here and take their authors down with them. Yes, they're popping up everywhere--because everywhere you look the news is saying "this is the next big way to get rich." All you have to do is go and look at the B&BC threads for new companies and you'll see the red flags popping up everywhere. Even the most well intentioned people who are doing it out of love of books who really want it for the right reasons aren't likely to succeed if they don't have the business acumen or editing knowledge or how to make a cover or have a good marketing strategy.

So don't go with the bad ones. Writers always have to do their research but my guess is that if ther are 1,000 small pressess 2 years ago 100 were "good" then the fact that there are now 2,000 small presses chances are probably pretty good that there are now more than 100 good ones. More choices = more opportunities.



And there have always been small presses. And authors have always had the option of pursuing them. I'm sure some of the new companies popping up will in a few years be seen as great, but right now? They're high risk at best.


So don't use them. But what's the worse that can happen? Small sales...better than none....they go under....you have your rights back and you are right where you started.

You keep saying that self-publsihing is bad because you have to pay. But now you say small press is bad because you might not sell many books. So it seems apparent that the only "sure thing" you count on is "big six" - that' fine - so persue that for you - but don't project your goals onto others. Let them make their own decisions.



And how has self-publishing been a boon for small publishers in general? Do they have more sales now because people have self-published? How would we even have any way of knowing that? I haven't heard anything lately about a lot of small presses making a huge increase in sales, and even if they were, how do we know that's not just a factor of more people buying a kindle in general?


Yes small publishers are making more sales post self-publishing boon then before. How do we know that...look at Amazon Top 100 rankings. Before October 2010 it was a rare situation for any of the idies to be on there. Now I see 3 - 4 each week.

Are small pressess making huge increases in sales? Well mine is. Is it a factor of more kindles in general - yes. But you know what else....The self-publishers pioneered the $0.99 model. When it was just small pressess and big-six selling kindles I didn't see anyone making any major sales doing so. Then the SP'ers started getting 30 - 50% of the top 100 - small presses move fast - and many adopted that and guess what - they started making the Top 100. Would they have done this if sp'ers didn't start the ball rolling?



Now, I'm not saying it isn't possible, but I look at these statements and one reads as not having enough information about what's going on because the fact of the matter is the huge increase in new epublishers is an iffy thing at best (not a good thing), and the other is something that couldn't possibly be based on more than anecdotal evidence or sheer speculation.

This board is notorious for getting hung up on "anecdotal" evidence. There are two compoents to an anectote: "small" amount of "actual" data. Sure I can't always cite numbers for the industry as a whole because they are not published (though even when they are such as the AAP this board still berates them as not germaine) but what I do state is based on actual first-hand experiene.

People who read the posts can decide which is more worth listening to..."the gut feeings" of people who sit on the sidelines. Or the actual facts of people who are making a living in this business for themselves and the authors they represent.

RemusShepherd
05-10-2011, 09:07 PM
What about the fact that glutting the market with poor quality books might decrease demand for all ebooks, or self-published books, in the future? How does it help the authors who are published through small epublishers that might be thrown into the same category by readers who don't know better who then read fewer of those as well?

I'm going to go off on a little tangent, and I'd like you to smile when you read it because that's how I'm writing it. :)

The arguments about 'glutting the market' don't work for me, primarily because I know how much porn is on the internet. Seriously, do you have any idea how much porn is out there? Usenet was not able to handle it and many newsgroups drowned in the glut, but when the porn moved onto the web the internet adapted. Now there are sites where porn is voted on and selected for quality, and there are sites devoted to niche flavors of porn. You might have had to search *all day* to find a naked, anthropomorphic pikachu -- now there are sites that host *only* that kind of picture, and they sort them by user-voted quality scores.

The internet got very, very good at compartmentalizing, critiquing, and delivering porn according to users' tastes. I am certain that one day it will be just as good at delivering electronic fiction. It may take a while, but the revolution is still young.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 09:11 PM
I'm currently wrestling with a big-six contract as they are trying to slow down Michael's writing by prohibiting any other of his books from being released before theirs (even though their contract says they can take up to 24 months to put theirs out) and they want to prevent him from puting out any other book until six-months after theirs. So they want to lock out 2 1/2 years of his writing for the privlege of being published through them? .

They're being smart. Ask if you can talk to someone in marketing about sales projections for series books in his genre.

They have data about who bought what when and where. The thing is, that you want readers to want the next book so badly that they will go to bookstores and ask for it if it isn't on the shelf.

With print books on shelves, the bookstore has to have rapid turnover. Until Michael is a household name, the publisher is going to have to, through their sales and marketing staff, convince bookstores and the buyers at chains to take shelf space from another title to give it to Michael's titles.

Sometimes getting a bookstore to try a new author requires bullying, cajoling, and bribery (Buy a mixed half-case and we'll give you an exrat 2% discount, etc. )

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 09:14 PM
It took two books, but the second I began submitting in September, and I signed in February. I hardly think that's an exorbitant amount of time. Sure, it took two years (counting editing and preparation, not book writing time) to get there total, but I don't think that's too ridiculous, either. There are other options. And an agent is going to be more likely to get your work read quickly, which is also well known.


But you have $0 in your pocket. You don't even have a deal pending. All you have after 5 months is an agent.And yet you post against other options (self and small) as if they are unworthy. You're approach is definitely in line with your goals as a writer - so good but don't continue to say that the other methods have no merit because each one does

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 09:15 PM
Michael's contract says that if the publisher adjusts their ebook royalty upwards from the industry standard of 25% to a higher number - his rate will also increase. I see this as a direct reflection of pressure on the publisher by people complaining about the fact they can get 70% on their own. I don't think they would have added the escallation clause "just to be nice".

No, that's pretty common; I was writing contracts like that in the 1990s.

My own first book contract '92 or '93 had a clause like that.

I'd also look into a bonus added to the advance for new books if you hit the deadlines. That's pretty easy to get.

scope
05-10-2011, 09:22 PM
Not saying there hasn't been...what I'm saying is the new environment is better now, not only for those you cite but fr many new players in the field.

It may be better for a select few, but wouldn't you agree that it could worse for many? That is, it's an easy, accesible lure for far too many writers whose work isn't ready for publication, and if they meet with failure, which is more than likely, they give up -- and may also lose a lot of money.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 09:22 PM
What does your agent advise? And are you prepared to walk away?What does your husband think?

What does agent say? Agent advises that she wouldn't expect us to sign a contract with such language. She thinks it can and will be fixed. We'll see.

Are we prepared to walk away? We would have no choice - of course we'll walk. We can't live on Michael's income with only one release every 2 1/2 years.

What does my husband think? Michael says if they require him not to put out any books after their version for x months then they should not be able to put out any books during that time period by other authors. After all they say the restriction on him is because some people might only have enough money for a one book and they want that one to be their version. Michael says by that same token then he wants their one book to be his and not another of your author's.

Capital
05-10-2011, 09:22 PM
I'm going to go off on a little tangent, and I'd like you to smile when you read it because that's how I'm writing it. :)

The arguments about 'glutting the market' don't work for me, primarily because I know how much porn is on the internet. Seriously, do you have any idea how much porn is out there? Usenet was not able to handle it and many newsgroups drowned in the glut, but when the porn moved onto the web the internet adapted. Now there are sites where porn is voted on and selected for quality, and there are sites devoted to niche flavors of porn. You might have had to search *all day* to find a naked, anthropomorphic pikachu -- now there are sites that host *only* that kind of picture, and they sort them by user-voted quality scores.

The internet got very, very good at compartmentalizing, critiquing, and delivering porn according to users' tastes. I am certain that one day it will be just as good at delivering electronic fiction. It may take a while, but the revolution is still young.

Books aren't pr0n though. Where I think humans will always need pr0n (and more, twisted pr0n too), I see books as dying media.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 09:23 PM
Wow. And just yesterday, someone else was giving grief in this forum merely because some people have stated that some writers' work just isn't good enough. Now this. Just wow.

Amazing, isn't it?

scope
05-10-2011, 09:26 PM
If your priority is earning money...then self-publshed or small-press published primarily through ebooks is a legitmate choice.

One question. Lets set a very low threshold for "earning money" at $10,000 a year, net. What percentage of self-published writers net $10,000?

AP7
05-10-2011, 09:27 PM
Wow. And just yesterday, someone else was giving grief in this forum merely because some people have stated that some writers' work just isn't good enough. Now this. Just wow.

That is grossly inaccurate. Amadan said unequivocally that those who have tried to publish and failed did so because they werenít good enough. I disagreed and only so much as to say I won't dismiss those writers out of hand.

I wonít speak for Robyn, but I think her point, which Iíve also tried to make, is that some will fail regardless of what path of publication they pursue so the debate should be catered towards those who are professionals or aspiring professionals who possess realistic goals and the work ethic needed to give themselves a chance at success.

AP7
05-10-2011, 09:29 PM
On the other hand, I can point to dozens of writers who said that SP'ing has empowerd them and brought back the joy of writing for them. These are people who were chewed up and spit out by the query-go-round. Who would have stopped writing altoghether EXCEPT now they are finding fullfillment in self-publishing.

The door swings both ways.

This is a good point. This is a tough and frustrating business and finding joy from SP is noble in and of itself.

kaitie
05-10-2011, 09:30 PM
The mere fact that you say "could have otherwise had a chance" implies that you assume their only outcome in self-publishing is failure. For those that are hopeless - nothing will save them. For those that can write - any of the three options offer risks and rewards. Neither you or I can say for author x that made decision y it was good or bad. Only time and their own goals can determine that. Is it better to spend 3-years in the query-go-round with rejections or to self-publish and only get 20 sales? Both suck - but for you I think you would prefer the first. For someone else they might prefer the later. Try not to project YOUR goals ont other's decisions.

Kaitie is purple! And first of all, no, I didn't. We've already established in this thread that many people who go to self-publishing because they were rejected were rejected for a reason (let's say at least 95%) and that those books will therefore not be good enough to be a commercial success self-publishing, either. It's something I've said and many other people have said numerous times in the thread. You're taking me out of context. And I've also said many times that there are authors who will succeed--with the caveat that many more will not.

And I'm sorry, but if someone is spending time querying and trying to get a commercial publisher? I think it's fair to assume that they wanted to be commercially published.

What I've actually said, if you read everything else I've written, is that those who were rejected (presumably who wanted to be commercially published) and then published as a result of not wanting to deal with rejection anymore are not likely to succeed and that those books (that they'd wanted to see commercially published, as evidenced by the whole trying to get a commercial publisher thing) might have found a home had the author done more editing or tried another book first. Instead, if they do fail, their book is basically dead in the water.

I think most of the time I'm fairly good at saying what I mean, and it's clear to me when I've said something that was unclear and that's the problem. I think there are cases when self-publishing is a good idea. Anyone who reads my posts and knows me should be aware of that.

This is conjecture with no basis in fact. eBooks are the fastest growing segment of the market - and has been for a long time, posting tripple digit growth with each new report. In all that time there has ALWAYS been crap books in this venue and yet somehow it manages to keep going. I've never found any evidence, or read a single study that says readers decreased their book buying habits because of too much "junk" on the market. If you know of any - please post as I would very much like to read that.

Here's the thing--so are your conclusions. I've heard numerous reports of people discussing the fact that often even when a self-published book is stocked in a bookstore, it still won't sell. That's because the readers could "spot a self-published book a mile away." Someone on here was talking recently about how they'd had their book published and when they mentioned it to a friend, the friend's question was "who with?" and the friend wasn't congratulatory until he realized it was a big name publisher--because people out there know people do this.

Right now there may not be evidence of it, but there's been plenty of evidence in the past. So ebooks are growing. Awesome. And when they start leveling off and the big publishers start really throwing their weight into it, what then? Right now things might be looking good, but I'm trying to guess the future. So are you. You're saying self-published ebooks are selling well and will continue to sell well and perhaps even better and that they'll bring other people up in the process, etc. That's speculation based on observation. I'm speculating, too. The difference is that I admit my speculation every step of the way and use phrases like "might" and "could" and "it could happen" and "I could be wrong."

Yes I have several small press authors and one self-published author that I draw experience from. The OP and my post in particular said why self-publishing was good for "all writers" (cavet that "all writers don't include the hopeless hacks who can't be sucessful regardless of path).

So the fact that self-publishing revolution has benefited BOTH of these demographics is right on point.

I actually suspect, and you have no idea how cool I actually think this is, that you're that one in a million who just has what it takes to do this. And I don't mean self-publishing. I mean, you might have a press that in ten or fifteen years is ranked up there and is highly regarded and that we recommend people to go to. That's pretty damned amazing, and it's definitely something to be proud of.

That being said, your experiences are not normal by any stretch, any more than Tiger Woods could be considered a typical golfer. I also think that you've come from a different route than most people in publishing and that gives you a different perspective than most, but I'm not going to disregard what others say, either.

All "writers" are better off today then they were 3-years ago.

3-years ago very few (mainly those in non-fiction) could make any type of success in self-publishing - now even if you say the 60 - 100 I've talked about in the past are all "outliers" there are still 60 -100 of them now that weren't there 3 years ago.

Small presses have better options now then they did 3-years ago. There are more of them so writers have more potential buyers of the books - that's good for writers chosing that roads.

Why? First of all, by a lot of accounts it's more difficult to get published now than ever before because publishers have had to cut back. Whereas you used to be able to get published with a book that was mostly there, now you need to be more like near perfect. Publishers aren't taking chances they were even two years ago. I have a friend here who is an amazing writer, one of the best I know, and she heard repeatedly that "if this was a couple of years ago we'd be on this, but right now we just can't do it." It sucks, but it's the way things work. In a couple of years, I imagine it will be more in our favor again, but it seems that everything else I've seen discusses how the past three years have been one of the more difficult times for authors.

Small presses have always been an option. A lot of the new small presses aren't a good option, though. There have always been plenty of good small choices that get books out there to readers. Why is that any different now?

Big publishers are starting to look at self-publishers as a potential source for new talent - Michael, H.P. Mallory, Amanda Hocking, D. B. Henson - none would have their big-six contracts if they didn't first self-publish.

They've always taken on big self-publishers. The Celestine Prophecy was the big one when I first got started. They also take bloggers with huge followings, but that doesn't mean I can start a blog expecting a huge publishing deal--or expecting that any publisher is going to come along and read it screening for talent. What I can expect is that if I'm highly successful and making a ton of money, I'll be picked up. So yes, if you sell a hundred thousand books a big publisher will want to take you on. But that doesn't mean publishers are looking through self-published authors for missed talent. And the sad thing is that there is probably a fair amount that is overlooked because it doesn't sell well, even if the book is decent.

Big publishers WILL modify their contracts. They can't continue to retain and attract talent if they don't and if it wasn't for the SP revolution they woud have continued doing "business as usual.

I'm not entirely certain that's true. Agents were fighting for contract changes before the self-publishing thing ever because as huge as it is now. I've been reading this stuff for a couple of years now, and from the beginning they've been trying to negotiate better deals for authors, mostly because the publisher will, by default, try to stack the cards in their favor. There were also small presses offering much higher royalty rates, so how do we know that wasn't a factor? Honestly, I think that whether self-publishing was a factor or not publishers would be forced to continue to change their contracts. I'm not sure I see how self-publishing influenced this.

Midlist authors have been in exactly this situation for years. What did they do...they maketed themselves. Not every book that comes out from a big-six is treated equally. For many all they ever got was a page in that season's catalog. And in the days when bookstores ruled the book buying decision making that was sometime good enough. But those days are gone and we can't bring them back so we must adjust.

They might have promoted themselves, but they didn't market themselves. And honestly, I think the social media to sell books thing is questionable. For people with a high following I'm sure it makes a difference, but even Nathan said to me that we don't have any evidence that it actually sells books, and I've even seen one survey in which more people said that they had chosen not to buy a book based on social media than those who said they had. Yes, an author should promote his work, but if I had to guess, I'd say word of mouth still rules. I'd love to see some more research done on this actually.

And for the record Kaitie has promotion ideas. They just don't involve twitter.

In the 80's all you neded to do was write and submit (and or the most part that's all you "could do". But that's not the world of 2011. Many writers say..."I don't want to market myself". My response is find another profession. Because no matter where you are published through you'll have to market yourself. Heck in Michael's big-six contract it is a REQUIREMENT.

That's fine and dandy. I can have a blog. My blog is just highly likely to suck. I'm boring and have nothing interesting to say and the things I am interested in I sure as hell won't write on a blog (no politics at the dinner table and all). An author can try, but unless you're damned good at it, it won't do much good. At least if I was published with a big publisher I'd have a chance. If I self-published, though, my fate would depend on my marketing ability, which is nonexistent.

I've not seen one piece of evidence that shows how writers are "worse" off post self-publishing revolution than pre self-publishing revolution. In the future that may not be the case. For instance if the self-publishing revoluion drives the price for ALL books to $0.99 and reading rates decline such that most authors can't earn a living at that rate - then yes we can say that the self-publishing revolution hurt writers. But we can have that discussion if/when that occurs. For now...2011 has it been a good thing for all writers? I think the answer is very clearly yes. Because they have more options and the options have shifted toward the author's benefit rather than keeping draconian business practices that were permissible when the options were fewer.

You might be right. This has definitely been a good year so far for writers, and that's awesome. Self-published authors in particular. Everything is changing and shifting and we don't know where it's going, but in a lot of ways, right now we have some pretty good opportunities.

But when I'm looking for a long-term goal and trying to decide my career, I have to look beyond right now. You're right, though, it's been a good year.

shadowwalker
05-10-2011, 09:34 PM
There is no question that the two are tied as it is in the e-publishing that the SP's are making their lions share of the profit.

Which is good for SPs - how does that affect others positively? It doesn't. E-pubbing does, however.

I just do not see the SP 'revolution' being a boon for all writers. E-pubbing, yes. It opens another avenue for more sales. But that would exist (and flourish, I'm quite sure) with or without SPs.

scope
05-10-2011, 09:34 PM
I've never considered those that have no talent, perseverance, or skill as even worth talking about as they are non-issues. For them there is no path to publishing.

I assume eveything you said is absolutely true. And that as a self-publisher you would not publish a writer you deem unqualified even when s/he has money in hand. But don't you think you are the exception? Don't you think most self-publishers companies care more about making money than the quality of what they print?

Amadan
05-10-2011, 09:36 PM
I've not seen one piece of evidence that shows how writers are "worse" off post self-publishing revolution than pre self-publishing revolution.

Well, by your revised definition of "writer," they're not, since those who are good enough to make money writing will mostly end up being commercially published.

The harm I see the self-publishing buzz doing right now is persuading people with little to no ability that they can join the ranks of the 60-100 people who are totally not outliers and make money self-publishing. Most of them will be disappointed, and a few of them might actually become capable of writing publishable work if they didn't give in to impatience and inflated expectations.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 09:39 PM
Guess the next question then is what qualifies as "can make a living"...

Depends on many factors. Where you live, what you are willing to have as your standard of living. How much of your income comes from your spouse (or other sources of income).

Look...if you want to make a hobby out of writing - there's nothing wrong with that. Hobbies are fun. They bring enjoyment. But don't confuse them with a profession. A profession generates income.

For years I was the sole income producer for my family. My husband wrote. At first he made nothing...then he made enough to pay for a meal out from time to time...then for a family vacation. I did not mind one little bit going to work day in and day out because his writing brought him enjoyment and my reading of his writing brought me enjoyment. If that's all that ever became of it - we would have been fine. But as it turns out, he ended up trippling my salary. So I said...okay I don't need to work so I won't. And you know what...he doesn't mind one little bit because not going to work makes me happy and gives me time to work on Ridan.

All I'm saying is this forum loves to lump everyone into one big group - and point out how most will never make it and keep harping on what are the group of people in that bottom suppose to do. The answer is quite simple. Either find enjoyment out of doing something you love and not worrying about the money. Or get serious and go about writing like a professional. Professionals work hard at what they do. Professionals don't expect rewards for non performance. Professionals don't say "I won't do x or y or z" if x and y and z are necessary to succeed. Professionals don't give up when the going is tough. Professionals find ways around obstacles.

I love the passion of writers, and if all they ever want to do is write their stuff and they find enjoyment out of it - that's GREAT. I'm glad that you have something that brings you joy. But if you want to make money at it - then you have to constantly improve, constantly grow, change with the market, be aware of the market, and never give up.

AP7
05-10-2011, 09:43 PM
Well, by your revised definition of "writer," they're not, since those who are good enough to make money writing will mostly end up being commercially published.

The harm I see the self-publishing buzz doing right now is persuading people with little to no ability that they can join the ranks of the 60-100 people who are totally not outliers and make money self-publishing. Most of them will be disappointed, and a few of them might actually become capable of writing publishable work if they didn't give in to impatience and inflated expectations.

These arent mutually exclusive. A writer who isnt ready can fail self publishing and then go back to the drawing board and get better. No different than any other version of trying and failing. The same way everyone takes their lumps in this biz. If their pockets are a little lighter, that's unfortunate but only one of a multitude of ways aspiring writers are seperated from their money.

Terie
05-10-2011, 09:44 PM
That is grossly inaccurate. Amadan said unequivocally that those who have tried to publish and failed did so because they weren’t good enough. I disagreed and only so much as to say I won't dismiss those writers out of hand.

I won’t speak for Robyn, but I think her point, which I’ve also tried to make, is that some will fail regardless of what path of publication they pursue so the debate should be catered towards those who are professionals or aspiring professionals who possess realistic goals and the work ethic needed to give themselves a chance at success.

Fine.

But Robin is the very first person I've ever seen here at AW who dismisses people from being 'writers' who write but just don't do it well.

As far as I'm concerned, a writer is someone who writes. It doesn't matter if they're a talentless hack or a Nobel Prize winning author. If they're writing and trying to improve, they're writers. I don't care if they can't improve for whatever reasons; if they're spending diligent chunks of time writing they're writers.

To say that people who are writing but not very good at it aren't actually writers is arrogant and elitist, IMO.

kaitie
05-10-2011, 09:46 PM
But you have $0 in your pocket. You don't even have a deal pending. All you have after 5 months is an agent.And yet you post against other options (self and small) as if they are unworthy. You're approach is definitely in line with your goals as a writer - so good but don't continue to say that the other methods have no merit because each one does

God. I'm gonna have to give up this thread because it upsets me. I have never said anything was unworthy. EVER. I've said repeatedly in numerous places that self-publishing is a good option for some people, and the only thing I don't want is to see people make a poorly thought-out choice based on not all of the evidence. I want to see people succeed however they can succeed. Hell, I was just suggesting self-publishing to a guy I know at work the other day because he's writing for a niche market and I was suggesting companies to check out!

I've never once said that other methods aren't valid or reasonable and I have done everything in my power to be respectful of others. I have never said that people have to have the same goals that I have.

I brought up my timeline because someone else said that it took 31 months for one submission at a publisher, and you used that as an example of why publishing is broken. I was giving my timeline to say that there are other options, and that getting an agent generally doesn't take quite as long as sending directly to publishers, and to say that part of the advantage of an agent is to get around the huge, huge wait times that unsolicited manuscripts get.

Yeah, maybe "all" I have is an agent, and it took six months (for that book). I might never sell my book. You think I don't know that? You think I'm saying this like "oh I have an agent so I'm better than you?" Because I'm not. I'm trying to use myself as an example because it was easier than using other people when I can't speak for them. So I haven't accomplished anything. So I've never been published and I might never be. So I've earned nothing in six months. I might never.

But I have managed to accomplish something I never thought I would. Maybe that doesn't mean anything to you, but it means something to me. And I know that I have a better chance with what I'm doing right now than I would otherwise--for me. It might not be true for everyone and we all have our own paths to follow. If you think I've accomplished nothing because I have no money to show for it, so be it.

Kaitie's bowing out of this now.

Roger J Carlson
05-10-2011, 09:49 PM
The example you cite has no effect on anything. She will have exactly the same success through each avenue: self,small press, or big-six which is zero. Nothing can help those with no talent. No changes in the industry will make her successful. Success will only be achieved for people with talent. And for talented people, the new environment benefits them.


I do indeed mean "all" writers. It's just that the person you mention is not writer (IMO). Putting letters on paper (or writen electroniclly) does not a writer make. If that was the only requirement than children in kindergarden could be considered writers and almost every person in the business world as well, since we all write email.

I've never considered those that have no talent, perseverance, or skill as even worth talking about as they are non-issues. For them there is no path to publishing. When I talk about writers, I speak of those who "can" make a living because they have the three requirements above. The "path" they choose will be based on their own goals. But the fact remains that all thre paths have gotten better for writers with the recent boon in self-publishing.

The problem here is your definition of "writer" is so narrow that the conclusion is trivial. According to the above only those who "can" make a living as a writer will benefit. Well, how do you know they can unless they do? I know Jim can make a living as a writer because he has. But what about me? I haven't been able to make a living as a writer. Does that mean I can't? If so, how does this new revolution benefit me? I'm not a writer, remember, because I can't make a living as a writer.

And round and round.

Your conclusion cannot be false because of the way you've defined your terms. If a writer fails to make a living self-publishing, he or she wasn't a real writer. Thus the revolution in self publishing benefits all writers because only those who benefited were real writers.

None of which helps those of us who haven't published yet. I don't know if it will benefit me because I don't know if I'm a real writer. The only way I'll know is if someone with industry experience decides to invest their time and money in my book. In other words, if I can find a commercial agent or publisher.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 09:49 PM
They're being smart. Ask if you can talk to someone in marketing about sales projections for series books in his genre.

They have data about who bought what when and where. The thing is, that you want readers to want the next book so badly that they will go to bookstores and ask for it if it isn't on the shelf.

With print books on shelves, the bookstore has to have rapid turnover. Until Michael is a household name, the publisher is going to have to, through their sales and marketing staff, convince bookstores and the buyers at chains to take shelf space from another title to give it to Michael's titles.

Sometimes getting a bookstore to try a new author requires bullying, cajoling, and bribery (Buy a mixed half-case and we'll give you an exrat 2% discount, etc. )

They're not being smart - they are being archaic. I'm in marketing, have been for years, and producing less product is not "good or business".

If readers get done with a book and like it - they'll want more from that author - if there is something there - they'll buy. If there is no more - they move on to someone else. Come a year later will they remember? Who knows but the time of "striking when the iron is hot" has passed.

And its a paradigm that they already believe in because they are putting out three of his books in consecutive months. Nov, Dec, Jan. So they obviously think more books quicker is a good idea - otherwise why would they be doing so?

Their contract is just antiquated and hasn't changed yet - but with the self publishing revolution it will.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 09:53 PM
It may be better for a select few, but wouldn't you agree that it could worse for many? That is, it's an easy, accesible lure for far too many writers whose work isn't ready for publication, and if they meet with failure, which is more than likely, they give up -- and may also lose a lot of money.

I must admit that I never considered this side of the coin. the siren's song and how it effects the untalented. I'll have to noodle on that. I don't have an immediate answer - but thanks for stumping me and giving me food for thought.

Old Hack
05-10-2011, 10:10 PM
You've always been able to small press publish and self-publish but in the past only the outliers made any "real" money at it. In today's environment the number of people who are doing well in these two avenues makes it more likely to do so and actually get paid a decent wage.

I suspect that it's the same in both trade and self publishing: only the outliers are doing well enough to make real money out of their writing.

The majority of us won't ever make a great big chunk of cash out of our writing no matter how we're published.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:13 PM
One question. Lets set a very low threshold for "earning money" at $10,000 a year, net. What percentage of self-published writers net $10,000?

So I can't talk % because I don't know the denominator - but let's break it down. Let me start out by saying that I think most authors, regardless of route will need 3 books to "earn a living wage at". In other words to do it with one book is VERY difficult. And you need to be putting out books 1 or 2 a year.

Let's take the easy case. first book at $0.99, second at $2.99 and third at $3.99. That's $0.34, $2.09, and $2.79 for the third. You'll probably sell 3x as many books for #1 and 2x as many books for #2. So that math looks lke this

3x * .34 + 2x * 2.09 + x*2.97 = $833 a month

x = 102.

So Book #1 has to sell 306, Book #2 204, Book #3 102 per month.

If I had to guess I say tha 300 books a month would be at about a ranking of 8,000 200 about 10,000 and 100 about 25,000.

So how many self-published authors fall in those rankings? I'd guess on the low end 10% on the high end 20%. So My guess would be 800 - 1,600.

Of course those with more than 3 books this number would be much higher. For those with one book it would be much lower.

Now if we flip that and say traditional, current rates say that a new author's advance is typically 5,000 so a two-book deal could net $10,000 with one signing. How many "slots" are there in big-pressess for new authors per year? I don't knowbut I'm guessing maybe 200 - 400ish?

These are my guessses - anyone else want to take a stab at them?

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:16 PM
I wonít speak for Robyn, but I think her point, which Iíve also tried to make, is that some will fail regardless of what path of publication they pursue so the debate should be catered towards those who are professionals or aspiring professionals who possess realistic goals and the work ethic needed to give themselves a chance at success.

You are indeed acurately stating my position. Thanks ;-)

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 10:20 PM
They're not being smart - they are being archaic. I'm in marketing, have been for years, and producing less product is not "good or business".

Have you worked in a bookstore though? Used or retail? I've worked in both.

To get a specific a book on a shelf means that they aren't putting some other book on a shelf.

There are tried and true sellers; there are recent fast moving books. There are authors whose backlist, especially in genre fiction, will sell, and won't end up stripped.

Having too many books by a new author is taking up shelf space on a gamble, to a bookstore.

You track the books that get purchased; if you've got four copies of two books by a new author, and sell two of each book in thirty days or less, you'll restock that book.

But if you've got six books published in less than two years by a new author, you're not going to risk even one copy of each of the six books.

Bookstores know their readers; marketing and sales folk, especially at a large publisher, know their bookstores.


If readers get done with a book and like it - they'll want more from that author - if there is something there - they'll buy. If there is no more - they move on to someone else. Come a year later will they remember?

They will. In part because the publisher's marketing department will remind them.


And its a paradigm that they already believe in because they are putting out three of his books in consecutive months. Nov, Dec, Jan. So they obviously think more books quicker is a good idea - otherwise why would they be doing so?.

It's not so much more and quicker is better, as it is that they don't want to glut the market/readers' palates. You can sell six books in two years by a single author. Bookstores will be willing to buy the next three, and re-stock the first, if the first three books all sell.

Neither the publisher nor the bookstore wants to deal with strips/returns.

You want to have the reader wanting more, for years to come.

Two years from now, Michael may well want to have another series ready to start selling.

You want to have a backlist of nine books, all in print, and all selling, in three years.

At which point the higher royalty rate will have kicked in.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:23 PM
I assume eveything you said is absolutely true. And that as a self-publisher you would not publish a writer you deem unqualified even when s/he has money in hand. But don't you think you are the exception? Don't you think most self-publishers companies care more about making money than the quality of what they print?

Well first...I'm not a self-publisher - except for 1 case - my husband. My other authors don't pay me one dime. I pay them. But you are correct no small press will take on a writer that is "unqualified" because they put too much investment into who they select so they MUST be very particular in those they bring on.

Secondly, I always recommend that people don't go to a "self-publisher" because the business model they work under is too one sided. You put up the "seed money" and they give you a royalty. That makes no sense. For those that self publish - I mean TRULY self publish - which is you either do the work yourself or you hire someone else for a fee that you set.

And you are 100% correct the companies that do self-publish don't care one single bit if any book sells. They've already gotten their money from the author. Anything else is just gravy.

movieman
05-10-2011, 10:26 PM
We've already established in this thread that many people who go to self-publishing because they were rejected were rejected for a reason (let's say at least 95%) and that those books will therefore not be good enough to be a commercial success self-publishing, either

Most, yes. But when publishers are only taking what they believe to be the most marketable novels out of the top 1% or so of those being written, that leaves a lot of rejections for which there probably is a market.

For example, I'm about half-way through one of Konrath's old novels that was rejected by publishers, and I can see why it was rejected; it was probably in the top 10% of the slush pile but has enough issues that I couldn't see it being in the top 1%. But so far it's an interesting story and I don't regret paying $2.99 for it (though I might if the ending sucks).

As you said yourself, your amazing writer friend is getting rejections just because the publisher has decided that this is the wrong time for their novel. If it really is amazing, then there should be a market for it if self-published.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:27 PM
Which is good for SPs - how does that affect others positively? It doesn't. E-pubbing does, however.

I just do not see the SP 'revolution' being a boon for all writers. E-pubbing, yes. It opens another avenue for more sales. But that would exist (and flourish, I'm quite sure) with or without SPs.

Go back and read my posts.

1 - SP'ers have opened up the $0.99 market - that small pressess are using to their advantage.

2 - More options = more choices = better environment

3 - More authors jumping ship to self-publishing will make trade publishers treat authors better. They can't be so "my way or the highway" any more.

4 - SP'ers are making the news - and breaing down the "myth" that all sp stuff is junk

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:29 PM
Well, by your revised definition of "writer," they're not, since those who are good enough to make money writing will mostly end up being commercially published.

Totally don't agree - I think most of these people are doing very well as self-published and would make less money through commerically published channels.



The harm I see the self-publishing buzz doing right now is persuading people with little to no ability that they can join the ranks of the 60-100 people who are totally not outliers and make money self-publishing. Most of them will be disappointed, and a few of them might actually become capable of writing publishable work if they didn't give in to impatience and inflated expectations.

It is a valid point, and one that I've not yet determined where I stand on.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 10:32 PM
And you are 100% correct the companies that do self-publish don't care one single bit if any book sells. They've already gotten their money from the author. Anything else is just gravy.

You're conflating terms. Self-publish is not the same as vanity publishing, or subsidy publishing.

Here's a useful list of definitions (http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/vanity/).

Amadan
05-10-2011, 10:35 PM
Totally don't agree - I think most of these people are doing very well as self-published and would make less money through commerically published channels.


There is no evidence of this.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:36 PM
To say that people who are writing but not very good at it aren't actually writers is arrogant and elitist, IMO.

It's not elitist or arrogant - its a fact. I can't call myself a painter just because I splash paint on a canvas - well I can but I shouldn't. One of my favorite phrases that I see people say is... "I like to think of myself as....insert whatever you want here". But "thinking" you are something or wanting to be that "something" doesn' make it reality.

You can write all you want for enjoyment. There's not thing wrong with that. But if you don't have the tools, or the business acumen to turn that into money - then its a hobby not a career.

Amadan
05-10-2011, 10:37 PM
4 - SP'ers are making the news - and breaing down the "myth" that all sp stuff is junk


No, they aren't.

No one has said "all." But the overwhelming majority of SP stuff is still junk.

scarletpeaches
05-10-2011, 10:39 PM
No, they aren't.

No one has said "all." But the overwhelming majority of SP stuff is still junk.No it fucking isn--

Oh. That SP. Right, yeah. Agreed.

Okay, carry on.

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 10:42 PM
It's not elitist or arrogant - its a fact. I can't call myself a painter just because I splash paint on a canvas - well I can but I shouldn't. One of my favorite phrases that I see people say is... "I like to think of myself as....insert whatever you want here". But "thinking" you are something or wanting to be that "something" doesn' make it reality.

You are confusing author with writer:

A writer is one who writes. To wit:

"One who writes, especially as an occupation" (AHD).

Anyone who writes is a writer; whether they are a first grader writing sentences using words from the spelling list, or a multiple-published award winning author.

firedrake
05-10-2011, 10:43 PM
My own opinion, for what it's worth, is that people are getting way too excited about SP and the possibilities, just because of the spectacular success of a scant handful of self-pubbed writers.

As I've said before, if a book isn't good enough to be taken on by an agent or publisher, it's probably not worth my hard earned money.

But, hey, that's just me.

scope
05-10-2011, 10:44 PM
They will. In part because the publisher's marketing department will remind me.

Agree, agree, agree.
Like most on AW I read a fair amount of books yearly. Mostly are paper books, a few are ebooks. And of course I have some favorite authors. But I also have a life and a profession (writing) to care about. I don't always have the time or desire to check what's new. I don't always go into book stores and/or on the net and plug in the authors or type of books I like in order to see what's out there. To that extent I'm guilty, but quite content, to in most cases rely upon a publisher's marketing deartment to remind me. If this method didn't work I imagine there would be no advertising industry at all.

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:44 PM
The problem here is your definition of "writer" is so narrow that the conclusion is trivial. According to the above only those who "can" make a living as a writer will benefit. Well, how do you know they can unless they do? I know Jim can make a living as a writer because he has. But what about me? I haven't been able to make a living as a writer. Does that mean I can't? If so, how does this new revolution benefit me? I'm not a writer, remember, because I can't make a living as a writer.


If you have talent, and perseverance you will succeed. Period. It might take a long time, you might fail many times, but if you keep on at it - one way or another you'll make it.

The SP environment makes it all the more likely for that to be the case because now you have options that you didn't before. Think of it this way. There used to be 100 slots available. Now there are 1,000. You're odds have improved.



Your conclusion cannot be false because of the way you've defined your terms. If a writer fails to make a living self-publishing, he or she wasn't a real writer. Thus the revolution in self publishing benefits all writers because only those who benefited were real writers.


No, that's not what I'm saying...they aren't one "yet" but does that mean they won't become one? And are there chances better today then 3 years ago - yes. That's my point.



None of which helps those of us who haven't published yet. I don't know if it will benefit me because I don't know if I'm a real writer. The only way I'll know is if someone with industry experience decides to invest their time and money in my book. In other words, if I can find a commercial agent or publisher.

Trust in yourself - you don't need "someone with industry experince" to annoint you. If that is your goal - then sure go for that. But the "industry" only has so many places and if they say no to you it doesn't necessarily mean "unworthy" it means - not right now - or we're full up.

scope
05-10-2011, 10:46 PM
Well first...I'm not a self-publisher - except for 1 case - my husband. My other authors don't pay me one dime. I pay them. But you are correct no small press will take on a writer that is "unqualified" because they put too much investment into who they select so they MUST be very particular in those they bring on.

Secondly, I always recommend that people don't go to a "self-publisher" because the business model they work under is too one sided. You put up the "seed money" and they give you a royalty. That makes no sense. For those that self publish - I mean TRULY self publish - which is you either do the work yourself or you hire someone else for a fee that you set.

And you are 100% correct the companies that do self-publish don't care one single bit if any book sells. They've already gotten their money from the author. Anything else is just gravy.

Sorry, I thought you did more self-publishing beyond your husband's work.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 10:47 PM
. . .4 - SP'ers are making the news - and brea[k]ing down the "myth" that all sp stuff is junk
Or cementing it.

--Ken

Sheryl Nantus
05-10-2011, 10:48 PM
Agree, agree, agree.
Like most on AW I read a fair amount of books yearly. Mostly are paper books, a few are ebooks. And of course I have some favorite authors. But I also have a life and a profession (writing) to care about. I don't always have the time or desire to check what's new. I don't always go into book stores and/or on the net and plug in the authors or type of books I like in order to see what's out there. To that extent I'm guilty, but quite content, to in most cases rely upon a publisher's marketing deartment to remind me. If this method didn't work I imagine there would be no advertising industry at all.

Yep.

I'm a big fan of the Russ/Claire series from Julia Spencer-Fleming - it started with the first two books being given away as free ebooks. I read them and bought the other paperbacks and have kept up with the series.

The newest one, "One Was A Soldier", was just released a month ago. I saw contests for ARCs, Twitter feeds, Facebooks commentary, pre-release reviews and a slew of advertising directed at me, the returning fan, and the new reader. It was much more than just the author spamming the usual sources.

Patricia Briggs doesn't release a new book every few months. Somehow I manage to be informed on when the new ones come out and know to buy them.

Fancy that, eh?

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 10:49 PM
To that extent I'm guilty, but quite content, to in most cases rely upon a publisher's marketing deartment to remind me. If this method didn't work I imagine there would be no advertising industry at all.

I always try to get authors to make friends with a local bookstore manager and/or buyer.

It's useful to know how books get on the shelves of bookstores. If you're in a bookstore and see someone with a large triple-width leather case, introduce yourself, politely, and offer to buy him or her a cup of coffee.

That's a sales rep from a publisher. Ask them about what they do, and how.

If you're under contract with a publisher, ask if you could at some point have a tour. Ask to meet the people in production, and sales and marketing. Let them know that you're interested in what they do in general, not just for your book.

You can learn a lot.

And honestly, production, marketing and sales are often completely forgotten about by people outside their workflow. And what they do is crucial.

Marketing and sales in particular know about who buys what books, and often, why.

Sheryl Nantus
05-10-2011, 10:49 PM
Or cementing it.

--Ken


:ROFL:

rsullivan9597
05-10-2011, 10:52 PM
Have you worked in a bookstore though? Used or retail? I've worked in both.

But bookstores are dead. I don't need bookstores when I sell 10,000 books a month online (which I have).



To get a specific a book on a shelf means that they aren't putting some other book on a shelf.

There are tried and true sellers; there are recent fast moving books. There are authors whose backlist, especially in genre fiction, will sell, and won't end up stripped.

Having too many books by a new author is taking up shelf space on a gamble, to a bookstore.

And I'm not asking them to put "both of my books on the shelf" - I'm asking them to but their book on the shelf and my epublish my other books and do just fine.



You track the books that get purchased; if you've got four copies of two books by a new author, and sell two of each book in thirty days or less, you'll restock that book.

But if you've got six books published in less than two years by a new author, you're not going to risk even one copy of each of the six books.


I'm not asking for six books. I'm asking to do whatever I want with my ebooks.



Bookstores know their readers; marketing and sales folk, especially at a large publisher, know their bookstores.

They will. In part because the publisher's marketing department will remind them.

It's not so much more and quicker is better, as it is that they don't want to glut the market/readers' palates. You can sell six books in two years by a single author. Bookstores will be willing to buy the next three, and re-stock the first, if the first three books all sell.

Neither the publisher nor the bookstore wants to deal with strips/returns.


strip/returns is exactly why bookstores are dying.



You want to have the reader wanting more, for years to come.

Two years from now, Michael may well want to have another series ready to start selling.

You want to have a backlist of nine books, all in print, and all selling, in three years.

At which point the higher royalty rate will have kicked in.

Two years from now there might not be any bookstores. Yes I want his whole backlist selling - which in online stores they will be.

Sheryl Nantus
05-10-2011, 10:52 PM
Trust in yourself - you don't need "someone with industry experince" to annoint you. If that is your goal - then sure go for that. But the "industry" only has so many places and if they say no to you it doesn't necessarily mean "unworthy" it means - not right now - or we're full up.


No offense, but I'll be more willing to take the advice of published authors on this board who have years more experience with publishing houses AND small press publishers who are putting out five, ten titles a month and getting them into the bookstores and generating NYC buzz over a small house that publishes her husband's work and that of a few authors picked out of the Amazon slush pile.

Your opinion is nice but doesn't weigh up against the more learned people on this board.

IMO, of course.

(and they're technically not *your* books, for clarification.)

ResearchGuy
05-10-2011, 10:54 PM
. . . if a book isn't good enough to be taken on by an agent or publisher, it's probably not worth my hard earned money.. . . .
Often the question is not "good." It is "commercial." Not every good book is suited to commercial/trade publishing (niche, local, or author just lacks platform). And, believe it or not, some independent author/publishers will not lower their standards or expectations (or financial goals) for commercial publishing. I'm mostly talking nonfiction, but not solely. I've named names often enough, and certainly my acquaintances are only a small sample of the whole array. (Yes, yes, yes, I know lots of folks whose books are not publishable, or at least never should have seen the light of day.)

--Ken

scope
05-10-2011, 11:07 PM
And honestly, production, marketing and sales are often completely forgotten about by people outside their workflow. And what they do is crucial.

Marketing and sales in particular know about who buys what books, and often, why.

I know exactly what you mean and I totally agree.

Before taking up writing as a full-time gig, I worked for several trade publishers in a variety of positions for about seven years. Then I established a book packaging hosue where I worked as creative director. Not enough is said about the dramatic importance of production, marketing, and sales to the overall picture. The fact that trade publishers and some small presses not only have these departments, but rely upon them in numerous ways, is too often overlooked. And the failings in these areas of self-publishers cannot be overplayed.

Amadan
05-10-2011, 11:15 PM
If you have talent, and perseverance you will succeed. Period. It might take a long time, you might fail many times, but if you keep on at it - one way or another you'll make it.

The SP environment makes it all the more likely for that to be the case because now you have options that you didn't before. Think of it this way. There used to be 100 slots available. Now there are 1,000. You're odds have improved.

Except if you are good enough to be published, and go the self-publishing route instead, the odds of your being noticed amidst the sea of crap are minuscule. I think there probably are gems out there in the self-publishing world, authors who could have been commercially published but gave up after one too many rejections or just weren't patient enough to go that route in the first place -- authors who may have listened to people like you telling them that self-publishing would make them more money and give them just a great a chance of success -- and they're competing for eyeballs with a gazillion other self-published authors, most of whom can barely write a grammatically correct paragraph.



Trust in yourself - you don't need "someone with industry experince" to annoint you. If that is your goal - then sure go for that. But the "industry" only has so many places and if they say no to you it doesn't necessarily mean "unworthy" it means - not right now - or we're full up.

But it probably means "You're not good enough (yet)."


But bookstores are dead. I don't need bookstores when I sell 10,000 books a month online (which I have).

In a word -- bullshit. Even if Borders and Barnes & Noble both go under, there are still going to be bookstores, and even optimistic projections still show more print books being sold than ebooks for years to come. You may sell 10,000 ebooks a month -- good for you. Most people won't achieve numbers anywhere near that, and relying on ebooks only is narrowing your options, not widening them.

Sydewinder
05-10-2011, 11:16 PM
Two years from now there might not be any bookstores. Yes I want his whole backlist selling - which in online stores they will be.


Do you honestly believe that? Because that's utter nonsense. Where are most books sold?

(I have another question for you but I'll take it to the Ridan thread since it seems more fitting there.)

brainstorm77
05-10-2011, 11:18 PM
My local Chapter's sure as hell isn't dead. I've yet to go there and NOT have to wait in a line. That's with three cashes open.

scope
05-10-2011, 11:18 PM
[QUOTE=rsullivan9597;6129112]But bookstores are dead. I don't need bookstores when I sell 10,000 books a month online (which I have).[QUOTE]

There's no question that bookstores are failing, but not all, and I don't think we can declare them dead. What I do think is that in a year or two bookstores will have somewhat of a different profile.

It's great that you sell 10,000 books a month online. Of how many titles do you do that, and how often?

Medievalist
05-10-2011, 11:23 PM
But bookstores are dead. I don't need bookstores when I sell 10,000 books a month online (which I have).

My publisher sold 10000 + print copies of a single book from September to March.

In U.S. markets alone, via bookstores.

And our book isn't the only one that sold like that, at all; ours was a small print run of a niche book with a high cover price ($24.99).

That's not really a big deal at all.

It's even less of a big deal for genre fiction. I know AW genre writers who have 50K initial print runs. Also not all that unusual.


Two years from now there might not be any bookstores. Yes I want his whole backlist selling - which in online stores they will be.

I'm betting that two years from now there will be more indie bookstores than there are now. The demise of chains is not hurting indie bookstores.

Three years from now, I'm betting many bookstores will have a primitive system allowing customers to buy ebooks on the spot over WiFi or on portable media in a variety of file formats from a range of big six and other publishers. The vending systems exist; it's now a matter of more than limited tests, and wide-scale adoption. I think what we see B & N doing with Nook will spread.

B & N, by the way, are shutting down some stores--and getting new contracts on campuses. They are, I think, repositioning themselves as content brokers.

In the next two years, OverDrive will have competitors for ebook lease systems.

I suspect either Google or Amazon, and possibly both, will have mall kiosks set up in the next two or three years for ebook and POD one-offs.

I'm hoping that by 2015 iBooks will no longer sell DRM books. This one is probably pie-in-the-sky, but I'm hoping.

ColoradoMom
05-10-2011, 11:25 PM
I guess the answer to my question was a resounding NO! :D

Irysangel
05-10-2011, 11:32 PM
This thread makes my soul hurt. And my brains. But mostly my soul.

shaldna
05-10-2011, 11:34 PM
I do indeed mean "all" writers. It's just that the person you mention is not writer (IMO). Putting letters on paper (or writen electroniclly) does not a writer make. If that was the only requirement than children in kindergarden could be considered writers and almost every person in the business world as well, since we all write email.

But that *is* what a writer is. By definition a writer is someone who puts words on paper.

It doesn't mean that they are a *good* writer, and it doesn't mean that they are going to make a career out of it, or that they *should* be a writer, but they are still a writer.

None of us can say person x is a writer but person y isn't if they both have books. It's the nature of the beast I'm afraid.



I've never considered those that have no talent, perseverance, or skill as even worth talking about as they are non-issues. For them there is no path to publishing. When I talk about writers, I speak of those who "can" make a living because they have the three requirements above. The "path" they choose will be based on their own goals. But the fact remains that all thre paths have gotten better for writers with the recent boon in self-publishing.

Again, I agree to a point.

Watching my hubby work has been a real eye opener. I am published by a mid sized house, but hubby runs a small, pretty niche press which has had pretty good success. He's just signed a writer who's had 6 fiction bestsellers and has a couple of biographies coming out, several of which are quite prolific actors and actresses (he specialises in film history non-fic) and his way of working is very different to what I am used to. The things that he looks for in a book and a writer are different to the things that my publisher looks for.

You raised a very good point about the writers own goals. And this is something that has to be taken into consideration.

To give a non-writing example - for many years I worked with horses, and I taught A LOT of people, some of which went on to great things, some of which didn't. What is taught me is that not everyone wants to go to the olympics. Some people just want to walk around the feild at home. And you know what? Both of those goals are just as important as the other.

In writing each writers goal is different, what each person wants from their work is different, but that doesn't make any of it any less valid.




But the OP wasn't saying that you have to self-publish. The OP said that even if you don't self-publish you will benefit from the self-publish revolution and I agree with that.

The OP said that SP is good for all writers, which has been debated through this thread. I, for one, raised the point that the increase in SP had no real effect on me as a writer.

Terie raised the issue of another writer on whom SP had no effect. That was all.

Not everyone WILL benefit from the SP 'revolution', as both Terie and myself tried to point out.


Small presses have a MUCH better business climate post self-publishing revolution then they did pre-self publishing revolution.

Not really. Small presses in niche markets are actually suffering from what I can gather, mainly because the authors they would have dealt with are now going the SP route believing that they will do better. Then the marker is getting flooded with SP books that have not been edited and are of inferior quality. My hubby complains of this constantly, because he works in a very niche market, and he reads what is published in the genre, he is constantly berating the lack of editing and publication qualities of the SP books.



It is exactly this that demonstrates both the problems with big publishing and with writers that want it so desperately that they are willing to be treated so poorly on the mere "hope" of achieving their blessing.

A system that make such a wait "the rules of the game" is inherently flawed and why the self-publishing revolution is good for writers. As more and more authors say - "I have another choice" and once publishers start feeling the pinch then they'll change their business model. But as long as writers like Remus (and I'm not trying to pick on you - I just think your post demonstrates this well) are willing to put up with this then they are contributing to their own mistreatment.

Nearly 3 years just for a "yes" or "no" - that's just masochistic (IMHO).

Robin, while I really respect what you have done and said, I have to say that this just isn't going to happen, sorry.

In no world in this universe are big publishers going to care about the 'SP revolution' because it simply means that they have less slush going through them. For every writer who chooses to SP, there will be 100 or 10000 writers who will be willing to hold out and go the traditional route.

Until we reach the point where SP writers are in all the major outlets and eligible for all the same considerations, ranking and prizes as traditionally published books then traditional publishers are not really going to worry about SP.

There are exceptions, but for every Amanda Hocking there are 10million other SP writers who sell less than 100 copies.

Capital
05-10-2011, 11:39 PM
Summary of opinions expressed by various participants at this point:

1. SP is good for ALL writers.
2. SP is not good for ALL writers.

Let's conclude that SP is good for SOME writers, since that seems to be common ground.

Or argue for 10 more pages.

shaldna
05-10-2011, 11:47 PM
Michael says if they require him not to put out any books after their version for x months then they should not be able to put out any books during that time period by other authors.

This is ridiculous on all levels.

You run a small press, how would you feel if one of your writers said this?

Once again, and I've said this before, but I'll say it again -

You have been quite open on this board about the deals you are negotiating, and, despite previosu advice that it might not be prudent to talk about deals that have not been signed, you are still talking about them.

This raises two flags -

1. You have already mentioned the publisher and talked about the deal, which is your prerogative. But now you are telling us that you will walk if the contract isn't changed, I would query if you had mentioned to said publisher, and remind you that there are many publishers, editors and agents who read this board, and that this might be news to them. Professional courtesy and all that.

2. As a writer I would not be happy with you talking about unsigned deals on public forums, and this would be enough to persuade me, as a writer, to stay well away.

I appreciate the insight that you bring, but at the same time, as a writer, I would not want to risk my career in that way.

Medievalist
05-11-2011, 12:00 AM
I'm not asking for six books. I'm asking to do whatever I want with my ebooks..

What about version control? Will the ebooks have the same book text as the print versions from Orbit?

If you're using the Orbit edited text, was it hard to get permission?

gothicangel
05-11-2011, 12:04 AM
There's no question that bookstores are failing, but not all, and I don't think we can declare them dead. What I do think is that in a year or two bookstores will have somewhat of a different profile.


Are bookshops failing? From a business point of view, no. If they were failing publishers wouldn't supply them with stock and the administrators would move in as what happened to Borders UK.

Is Waterstone's failing? No. What is happening is that HMV is making losses and that is dragging down Waterstones [which makes a profit.] HMV are in talks to sell.

What I would like to see is more independent bookshops appearing on the highstreet.

rsullivan9597
05-11-2011, 12:07 AM
There is no evidence of this.

My own sales history is evidence of this. I made more in four months of self-published sales then my six-figure advance.

shaldna
05-11-2011, 12:08 AM
you don't need "someone with industry experince" to annoint you.

K then.

scarletpeaches
05-11-2011, 12:10 AM
I'd like to be anointed by someone who can spell.

Sheryl Nantus
05-11-2011, 12:10 AM
My own sales history is evidence of this. I made more in four months of self-published sales then my six-figure advance.

You? Ridan? Your husband?