We’re in the future-making business. As indie, hybrid, and self-publishing authors, we have to look ahead, and we have to take an active hand in surfing that cutting edge in an industry that sometimes seems bent on keeping its authors penned up in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. That publishers have reasons for this goes without saying, but those reasons don’t always equate to satisfactory treatment when we really examine how things play out for authors–traditionally published authors included. (Ever heard of “publishing hell” and the dreaded “midlist“? I rest my point.)
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking a look at the FutureBook‘s compendium of results from its Digital Census of 2015. The FutureBook, an offshoot of its famous cousin The Bookseller, examines current publishing trends with a particular eye for how these trends intersect with an international readership and the rise of digital technology. We’ve already looked at the first three points:
One: Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice
Two: Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing
Three: Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels
This week, we’re here to examine the fourth conclusion reached by the FutureBook editors: “Publishing,” it argues based on extensive survey data, “remains very much divided on matters digital.” The full FutureBook publication, which is put together by The Bookseller’s Porter Anderson and Philip Jones, spells things out a bit more for us self-publishing authors:
Division is rarely a good thing, when it comes to an emerging (but still fringe) market niche–tension between supporters of indie publishing tends to undercut our collective ability to make big gains in reaching new readers, and winning a broadened cultural acceptability. There are some times, however, when division may be less of a “bad thing” than it is an indicator of something very, very positive: growth and market dominance. The fact that we’re suffering from (seemingly petty) infighting over discounts shows that we’re now a force to be reckoned with–we’ve moved past being able to use words like “new” and maybe even “emerging” in reference to self-publishing. (We’re here; we’ve emerged. Hear us roar!)
And make no mistake, traditional publishing platforms as well as corporate giants (like Amazon) with a stake in the self-publishing game want us to keep fighting among ourselves over these things … because ultimately, if we’re fighting among ourselves we’re not fighting them.
Yes, that’s right: All of these little squabbles benefit the Big Five and the Corporate Heavyweights. Which is not to say that the concerns being fought over aren’t valid–we just can’t let them do what fights are always at risk of doing: keeping us stagnant. If we are to remain the future-makers that The Bookseller and the FutureBook celebrate, we need to reach consensus and then act on that consensus.
And here’s some good news: We already are making progress! In early October, 2015, a judge ruled against Apple for conspiring with the Big Five traditional publishing houses to artificially inflate e-book prices (the dividends of which were not trickling down to authors). Prices for e-books have been climbing at least since April (although the jury’s still out on how effective these price hikes have been at increasing net profits for self-publishing authors). More than ever before, indie authors are aligning to bring the full weight of our collective interest to bear on decisions and trends like these.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at email@example.com. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.|
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