Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Digital First?

I came across an interesting article in The Guardian that I think you might want to click over and read in its entirety. Here are a few snippets from it:
Preparing for the event, I visited most of the French publishers and came to realise how blind they were to the looming earthquake. They viewed their ability to line up great authors as a seawall against the digital tsunami.

Trade blogs and publications are filled with tales of out-of-nowhere self-publishing hits, or of prominent authors switching to DIY mode, at once cutting off both agent and publisher.

At some point … Amazon will "own" the entire talent-scouting food chain.

Despite a dizzying price deflation (with ebooks selling for $2.99), higher volumes and higher royalty percentages change the game.

Again, aspiring (or proven) authors need to cool down when looking at such numbers. The Kindle Million Club mentioned above counts only 11 members to date – and most were bestselling authors in the physical world beforehand.
Link over and read the full article.

Personally, I love my iPad and enjoy reading on it. And I know a lot of authors who have turned to e-publishing. But I’m wondering if the tier of authors will soon look like the tier of print published authors with a very few at the top and the rest trying to keep their heads above water to get noticed. On the other hand, do those authors have a better chance in the e-world than they did in getting an agent to notice them, a publisher to want them and help to promote them? What do you all think?

17 comments:

  1. I think, I hope, that the digital era of books will open up more for people's individual tastes and niche markets will be catered for more than before. This may mean readers become choosy and it will be the work they start to follow rather than the name of the author. But I believe the transitions will be incredibly slow as the digital world of publishing continues to try and imitate the old ways. They'll gradually find their own path.
    Wagging Tales

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  2. I see your point, Charmaine. I have to say that with the advent of ebooks, I have been exposed to more authors than before. Instead of twenty or thirty books on the "new" shelves of a bookstore, there are many more new books online each day to check out. And while that might make it harder for an author to be found among the others, it seems like it would even the playing (or reading) field.

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  3. The Internet caters to niche products - why not niche authors?

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  4. The e-revolutions have made many positive changes for authors. I don't believe it will necessary get them to be more visible for publishers but will turn more of them into publishers - and not just of their own stuff. I see a lot of successfully published indie authors, helping other authors do the same and sometimes even starting a small indie collective of supporting each others work and more. So I believe all of this is a good thing. Personally I'd been buying indie books for the longest only now I don't have to go to street vendors, markets or events to get them.

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  5. Very true Alex & LM. A big part of that is due to the Internet. Before the Internet (yes, I'm THAT old), I depended solely on bookstores to tell me what to read. Now I can find more choices and choose for myself.

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  6. I just wanted to say hello,Helen. It's been awhile.
    Karen

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  7. Yes, I think e-publishing will probably mirror print after a while. I, however, think there is no choice. It's creeping up and I wonder if the next generation will know what book stores are.

    Lou

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  8. Doing research for a recent column I found a study done last year at Smashwords where they asked readers how they pick ebooks and many do still follow authors.

    Ebooks are merely opening up things, providing more choice, choice that former gate keepers didn't allow through. Readers, as they always have, will decide what succeeds.

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  9. The good news is that e-publishing levels the playing field ... the bad news is that e-publishing levels the playing field. The field may be crowded and I sure don't know how the game will end, but at least I get a chance to play ... after ten years on the bench of traditional pubs.

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  10. Hi Karen!

    Lou, I keep thinking that bookstores will adjust. A lot of people want print books, but they want more choices, not just all the best sellers and a few others. I'm still thinking the Espresso machines will come into bookstores.

    Very true, Lauri.

    Christopher, for a second there, I thought you meant "after ten years on the bench of traditional pubs." But I'm guessing you meant: "after ten years on the bench of traditional publishers." ;-)

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  11. Helen, some might call that a Freudian slip.

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  12. It give us all hope. Interesting point, so a no-name self-published author could end up at the top of the sales list in a few years, while a NYC book author could get lost. Hmm...

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  13. I love the time saving aspects of e-publishing, also the independence involved. That said, it is difficult to get noticed, and a lot of hard work. Many are having success with the Kindle Select program, but how long that will last is anyone's guess.

    I find it disheartening to see so many quality books going for free because authors want to get noticed. In the long run this may hurt them as well as other authors with talent who are trying to sell their books even at a nominal price.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  14. I'm perfectly happy with the idea of being a niche author. I really don't think the top e-book authors will take anything away from everyone else - it's still all about content and reaching your readers, and if you have skills in both, you'll earn money. Likely as much or more on your own than with a traditional publisher.

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  15. Oh, and I still like the model I've promoted a couple of years now: e-book first and then if it sells x number of copies, it earns a print run. Recently, someone else pitched an interesting marketing idea. Start with free, after a certain number of downloads, raise the price to .99, then when it sells a certain number, raise to 1.99, and so on. Could work, as you start out with lots of notice for a new title, use the initial thrust for a .99 sales base, and as sales slow, the price gets higher to make up the income difference. I'm very intrigued with this idea.

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  16. Since I've watched the industry go from 185,000 books a year to over a million in just 7 years I wonder how much longer before we hit the saturation point.

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  17. I think self published authors really need to establish a base for themselves now as they market will soon be so flooded with countless people who think they can be a writer.

    This year I'm working to reach mass audiences across the country. It really doesn;t cost much and can be done from home. I'll be blogging on successes and what doesn't work so well throughout the year.

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