Guest Post by Dee Mason.
Book publishers must be sitting uneasily right about now. With the recent launch of four new kindle editions (including one that’s bound to take some market share from the iPad), it’s for certain that Amazon is betting on e-publishing as the wave of the future. In this year alone, we’ve seen e-book sales surpass those of paper books and a Kindle publisher who’s racked up sales figures in the millions. Independent authors worldwide are beginning to bypass the usual routes instead of going it alone, so what’s a poor publisher to do?
An Author’s Eye View
Let’s look at it from the viewpoint of the author for a minute. After months or years spent writing, a prospective first time author has to spend almost as long shopping around for an agent or publisher. Each has its own requirements. Some want you to send a query letter only; others want you to include a synopsis; still others want to see the first five pages or first three chapters – and that’s only so they will consider taking a look at it.
When you pass that hurdle, you have to wait months for someone to read your masterpiece, and to get it through the various approval rings before there’s any possibility of a deal. And unless you’re the next J.K. Rowling, don’t expect that your publishing deal will bring you enough to retire on. Advances are small and, when you get to publication, royalties aren’t that great either. Everyone wants to recoup their investment, so you will be lucky to net 8 cents on the dollar for every book you publish. It doesn’t seem like a lot for all your effort, does it?
In contrast, when you become an independent publisher or self-publisher, there’s a lot to be gained. All you have to do is finish your book and publish it. Now, it’s not totally straightforward because you have to decide among the many self-publishing options. Do you go with CreateSpace so you can have print and Kindle options? Do you check out Smashwords so you can publish your book for the iPad? Or do you just create a PDF and see what the take-up is before going further?
Once that decision is made, publishing your book is as simple as following the formatting guidelines for the route you have taken and making it available. Instead of a year or more to market, as is the case with traditional publishing, you can have your eBook in the hands of readers within weeks of completing it.
And there’s another big bonus – a financial one that will soon allow you to take your pick of the best bank accounts to store your money. As an independent author and publisher, you get to keep most of the profits. To give an example, as a Kindle publisher, depending on the price of the eBook, you can keep either 35% or 70% of the profits from eBook sales. That compares well with the percentage you would get in the traditional publishing route. This is a big attraction for many authors and is perhaps the reason why so many are going the indie route. Combined with a reading public that is sensitized to the convenience of eBooks and you can see why traditional publishing may be less vibrant.
The Publishing House Advantage
Let’s not write off major publishing houses just yet, though, because there’s one major advantage this route has over the DIY approach. Marketing. If you’ve ever tried to market your book as an independent author, you’ve had to set up social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook at least) and promotional websites (an author website and a book sales page). Then you’ve had to build interest and momentum via blog book tours, Twitter chats, giveaways, blog posts and more. And you’ve had to leverage all your contacts to give your book promotion some added legs. It can be exhausting!
That’s where publishing houses still have something to offer. They know how to get a book to sell from cover design and blurb writing to setting up promotional tours. Their marketing machine is simply awesome, honed by decades – and in a few cases centuries – of experience. Maybe that’s where the future lies for them – using their marketing experience to promote eBooks. What do you think?