Recently Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, made several interesting predictions about the future of publishing that I want to share with you. A few of them I mentioned in last weeks’s post and gazing into my crystal ball, I would like to further these comments.
While large traditional publishing houses are rethinking strategy, smaller, nimbler publishers are springing up all over. Because I plan to self publish a number of books, I established my own company, Digital Imagination Publishing. This way I have total control and can change price, product and marketing as I see fit. Total control. Yahoo.
I can update my books at any time, and if I use CreateSpace as my printer, it’s free. One of the things a new Indie author has to make sure of is that his book looks professional. Please Indie authors take time to study six or seven professionally done books before you throw yours out into the world. The last two books written by Indie authors I have read were embarrassing. This gives Indie authors a bad name, and indeed, I am getting frustrated with the sloppiness.
Having said that, no book is perfect, no matter who publishes it. That includes mine, but I continually polish and perfect them in order to offer the reader the best experience I am able.
What most Indie authors need is a reasonably priced array of services where he or she can select what aspect of the production they most need help with. Does he need an edit? Maybe formatting is her weak spot, or marketing. Some just want to write and let others handle the rest of production.
Unfortunately several big publishers have hurt themselves buying vanity presses. Penguin recently bought Author’s Solutions (AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, BookTango, etc.) These houses offer overpriced services to unwitting authors. They show smiling people who will publish your book and then take your money. Lots of it. Their advertising is compelling, but be careful what you pay for or sign up for.
Publishing “Must become not what can the author do for the publisher, but how can the publisher serve the author, or what can they do that the author cannot do or will not do on his own.”
To this end, Mark suggests free self serve platforms offered by the publishers.
Well…good luck with that.
However, with all this bashing of legacy publishers, the bottom line is well…what keeps the publishers solvent. They are a business. They must make money or go out of business.
And, I think there will always be authors wanting to try the “traditional” way first. The cache is still there, and someone will be close by holding the writer’s hand as they do the work for them. The new “vanity press ” may just be the old traditional houses.
“Platform will be king.” Having a platform is now critical to getting acceptance by most large publishers. Added to signings and known avenues of selling, social media, breath of distribution and collaborations will be key for a successful career.
As an example: Bookview Cafe is a co-op of authors with varying skill sets. A computer savvy author continually updates the website, a professional editor trades off her editing skills and a known author such as Ursula LeGuin adds her name to attract marketing attention. Books can be bought right off the site. Around forty authors pool together their knowledge and resources helping each other be successful.
Goodreads is another website where authors and readers are brought together.
Coker says in order to be successful, an author will need to “write more books.” A one book author has a hard marketing effort, but if he has several, and especially a series, then if the readers like one, they tend to buy the others.
This is my cunning strategy…besides I love to write about the Alysian Universe and the characters in it.
For in the end, “content trumps all.” No one checks out who published the book when making a buying decision. They check out the lists, blogs, read something on Twitter or Facebook, become attracted by a cover or listen to a friend’s recommendation. They read what it’s about in the summaries and apply their own desires for the type of writing that interests them.
I know that if it’s about golf, then my husband will be interested and look further into what a book may offer.
Coker calls it “desire and awareness,” saying these are the two key ingredients that will be necessary for future successful sales.