Well, if there’s anything I’ve learned about e-readers over the last few weeks as I compiled information for this series, it’s that we as self-publishing authors have cause for both great hope and for concern. I don’t think I’m an unbalanced optimist when I say that I think the scales tip towards hope rather than despair, either, even though in all things I advocate both caution and meticulous research.
So, how does someone go about shaping the self-publishing process to suit the current e-reader market and distribution network? Simply put, there is no easy answer. As with any technological gadget, niche (or even mainstream) market, and expensive purchase, you have to consider all of the angles––and as an author and producer of digital content, not just as a reader! Readers have only to consider those aspects of a purchase that lead to user satisfaction; they don’t have to worry about balancing the needs of others when they think about what device to pick up in a store, and which ebook to download from the internet. Authors, particularly self-published authors, do. You as an indie or self-publishing author are probably laying out significant packets of money to make sure your book is as beautiful and well-presented and as effectively marketed as it can be, so you want to make sure you’re actually getting your money’s worth.
The key to a successful relationship with e-readers is, I think, one of establishing healthy boundaries––and knowing when to cut your losses. And while it’s true that the best of all possible situations as an author is to present your readers with as many options as possible, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Kindle, the NOOK, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the iPad were not all created equal––and they have not all sold in equal numbers. I set out to give you a fair assessment of the current state of e-readers, and by golly, I really hope that’s what I’ve done. It’s useful to you to know, for example, that the iPad has outperformed all of its other rivals as a physical product, but that the Kindle store sees the highest rates of ebook distribution. It’s equally useful to know that readers are turning in droves to their smartphones as reading tools––over and above their dedicated e-readers and even over their tablet computers. The future of the e-reader, ebook, and in some small part, the self-published author rests with digital clearinghouses like the Kindle and iBook store, the Google Play store, and direct downloads. (And someday, I’ll take a good long look at how digital book piracy plays into this equation, too.)
If anything I’ve said sticks with you, I hope it’s not something I’ve said you should not do; I really hope you remember how positively excited I am about the new opportunities that are beginning to emerge. Certain markets and products, like the Barnes and Noble NOOK, might be declining in popularity––but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make your book available to those who choose to stick with it to the end. First and foremost, you have to decide what your priorities are as an author. Ease of accessibility? Or maximum profits? Or most effective use of time and seed money? (Just remember that the best way to sell your books is to keep writing and publishing new ones!) Ultimately, the state of e-readers has reached a stability and maturity that inspires me to think that, yes, we might have been feeling our way in the dark a bit, but we’ve stumbled across something truly wonderful. We live in a global network rich with innovators, and I truly think we can trust to see ever greater diversification and more specialized opportunities in the digital book market.
Next week, I’m going to start with an in-depth examination of The Bookseller’s key findings in their 2015 Digital Census. Things are changing rapidly––and perhaps not so much for authors and readers as for the ever-evolving relationship between self-publishing and traditional publishing companies. More on that in weeks to come!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.|