Epublishing News Round-Up: What If All Ebooks Were Indie Epubbed?

Happy Hump Day, WG2E-Land!

It’s Epublishing News Round-Up Time…and this week, that means the big ‘ole ”What If” questions are no longer ours for the asking only when we, as writers, are actually writing our books. 

…is now a huge question on the business-side of our writing-for-publication careers too!

I found this article – from the I Love My Kindle blog - beyond fascinating in its “What If” premise:

If all e-books were published independently

As y’all know by now, I read and reference the super smart Bufo Calvin of I Love My Kindle quite a bit here at The WG2E.

And I love his “What If” postulates in this blog piece.  However, I do respectfully disagree with him on a few points:

1.  I think he’s greatly underestimating the power of social networking and media to unknown, new authors. 

(See my Monday Real Numbers Post for how I’m making the Indie Epub route very successful despite building from a newer than newbie origination point.  Then, take a look at the Kindle Boards for further proof of what social media can do at all levels of an author’s career.)

2.  Traditional Pubs do indeed have all the in’s and know all the out’s of Big Media like The Today Show, and the New York Times and USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, etc…but, the simple truth is, those same TradiPubs choose NOT TO USE those venues for most of their authors.  Not only that, for new and midlist authors…in today’s TradiPub world, you’re lucky to get publisher-made and printed bookmarks to hand-out…let alone any superstar-worthy, major media attention.

3.  Brick-and-mortar floor space is greatly decreasing (for example, there are going to be what…300 plus fewer Borders stores now…and who knows what will happen to the rest of their stores).  So even if your TradiPubbed book makes it into the stores, because space is even tighter, we may see books staying on those shelves even less time than the few short weeks or months they currently get space.  That means, going the TradiPub route, new authors have even less of a chance to find then build their reader and fan bases.

So that’s what I disagree with…but boy-oh-boy do I agree with Bufo that “What If” ‘all e-books were published independently’ is a perhaps not-too-far-from-reality “What If” conversation beyond worthy of being cussed and discussed.

WG2E-Land Discusssion Point:  What do y’all think…About Bufo’s article?  And about Publishing’s new “What Ifs”?

The Best of WG2E Wishes — D. D. Scott

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  1. Sibel Hodge says:

    As you say, bricks and mortar space is seriously deteriorating for books nowadays. I can see in the future only a handful of bookstores surviving. So the question is, with more ebooks and ereaders out there, and online retailers like Amazon doing well on the book front, will the need for traditional publishers disappear completely? Can they provide a service for authors that authors can’t do themselves whilst getting a bigger royalty from the indie route?

    Many trad-pubbed authors are now choosing to go the indie-pub route. They have more control over their projects and destiny. They can choose how much to network or market themselves. In the current recession, I suspect not many traditional publishers will be throwing a marketing budget at new and unknown authors.

    • D. D. Scott says:

      This is fabulous stuff you’ve got here, Sibel!

      And welcome to The WG2E!!!

      “I suspect not many traditional publishers will be throwing a marketing budget at new and unknown authors.” — Not only that, Sibel…they don’t give marketing budgets that make a splash for most of their authors. Not just the newbies lose out on promo.

      Here’s an example…I have a fabulous author friend who is an RWA Golden Heart Winner. She went through a huge auction for her book. Sold to a big pub who was opening a US house based out of its huge British base, and she was to be the lead, launch title. I went to her first signing at B & N…the publisher only gave her these tiny business card like things with her book cover on ‘em…and didn’t even send enough books to the store. My DH and I had to help her carry her own copies into the store out of her trunk!!! And that’s publisher support for a lead title?!

      The sad part is…these stories and anecdotes aren’t the exceptions…they’re the norm.

      So yes…your question is sooo valid:

      “Can they [traditional pubs] provide a service for authors that authors can’t do themselves whilst getting a bigger royalty from the indie route?”

      Well said, Sibel!!!

    • Misa says:

      Trad. publishers still have readers’ attention with their online marketing (catalogs, newsletters, etc), so the exposure is still there for the books they choose to promote. Unfortunately they don’t choose to promote all their releases, and that’s a problem.

      It’s also the problem with the quantity-heavy e-publishers like Samhain, Carina, etc. There may be promotion, but there is such volume coming through that your book becomes a needle in a haystack.

      This is the problem with indie publishing, too, and the job of the writer then becomes figuring out how to make their book stand out amidst the masses. Not an easy thing to do.

      • D. D. Scott says:

        Beyond fabulous points on all accounts, Misa!

        Well said!

        The question then becomes…how do we make ourselves stand-out?

        I know, for me, the Kindle Boards are rockin’…and so is the fact that we are brave enough to cuss and discuss these topics right here at The WG2E!!!

      • Sibel Hodge says:

        Very true! Finding your “place” to get noticed is one of the hard parts. But it can also be rewarding because you’re interacting with other authors and readers in the meantime. Kindleboards is a great place to start!

  2. Bufo Calvin says:

    Thanks for the kind words, D.D.!

    “Respectful disagreement” is one of my favorite responses. :)

    I looked back over the post to see how I had minimized social media, and I do see that I said it was “not necessarily as effective” as old media. Clearly, new media can make you a bestseller…it did for Amanda Hocking (who already had bestsellers before we started to see a number of old media stories).

    When I managed a brick-and-mortar store way back when, the most effective promotion for a book was an appearance on a local radio talk show (although Oprah could have a big impact). I suppose the question is how much social media sells outside a target audience. It’s key to sell to the concentrated buyers…but blockbuster status takes crossing over to the casual reader. The same thing is true of movies: you have to get beyond the “fanboy” audience to be more than another superhero movie.

    However, I agree that one can be a working author just with social media. :)

    Brick-and-mortar space is reducing overall, but it may simply become more efficient. I’m not convinced that the Borders situation will in and of itself result in fewer sales. I do have some concerns (in terms of book sales) that the big ancillary booksellers (like Costco and Target) may simply drop paperbooks in the next…three years or so. When you look at the Costco prices in particular, you have to assume that that’s a very low profit-margin item for them. I’ve always assumed they use it as a trip impetus. If the new Stephen King comes out, a certain segment may choose to go to Costco to save $5. While there, they probably spend $100 (my Significant Other and I joke that Costco won’t let you leave if you don’t spend at least $100). However, if the group that cares that much about books switches to e-books, they lose that drawing power. At that point, is it worth dedicating that much warehouse floor space?

    Are tradpubs going to concentrate even more on the brand name authors? Quite possibly. They’ve always used their power for books likely to have big sales much more than unknown authors. They’ve been able to get first time authors to take deals with low pay rates (and low promotion effort/costs), just to get published. If those first-timers and “hobbyists” have a clear alternative, that’s not going to work…so they may drop those efforts.

    Thanks again!

    • D. D. Scott says:

      You rock, Bufo!

      And welcome to The WG2E!!!

      Luuuvvv the points you’re making with your comment…and oh yeahhh, I mean, really, who goes to Costco (or around here it’s Sam’s Club Country…LOL!) without buying books plus their breakfast sandwiches?!

      Well, I didn’t used to…but I do now…for exactly the reason you stated…I’ve already got what I want on my Kindle…and it’s usually not any of the wholesale store’s titles, ’cause they’re too expensive on Kindle. I just don’t buy ‘em anymore – on or at either – not on Kindle and not at Costco/Sam’s.

      And that’s one of the quite interesting things too with TradiPubs putting all their marketing dollars on the big gun authors…since they’re still pricing these books way too high compared to the fabulous unknown, but highly-rated and popular Indie Epub titles on everyone’s E-readers, why buy the big books they’re pushing when you can try a new author or 7-9 new authors for the same price of that big author/brand name book?

      Sooo luuuvvv havin’ your wit and wisdom here at The WG2E, Bufo!

  3. D. D. Scott says:

    You nailed it, Tonya…

    “I truly believe readers don’t care who publishes a book, they want 1. a great story 2. a beautiful cover 3. good price.”

    Luuuvvv what you said with that!!!

    And isn’t it funny that readers don’t care who publishes their books…but authors – because of the traditional way that was once our only way to bookshelves – DO care?

    It seems we’re having a very difficult time letting go of the “ego boost” that a traditionally pubbed book gives us…even though, that route doesn’t add up in good business dollars and sense/cents for us as the authors of these fabulous books.

    Interesting interesting interesting issues here…

    • Misa says:

      I don’t agree that authors go with trad. publishers for an ego boost. I think there are many reasons we make these choices, and I imagine that toward the top of that list is the writer’s desire to write and their faith (whether warranted or not) that a publisher’s marketing department will do everything in their power to promote that book, thereby freeing up the writer to write.

      We all have our own reasons for the decisions we make and because I am published and continue to be published by the big six doesn’t mean I’m after an ego-boost. We negotiate our contracts and do what we feel is best for us. I respect your decision to be fully indie. I want to have your respect for my decision to diversify, but stay with traditional publishing. We’re each the hero of our own journey!!

      • D. D. Scott says:

        You’ve totally got my respect, Misa! And always will!!!

        Just as I hope you respect that 99 Cent books don’t mean they’re not worthy of being held up against traditionally pubbed books.

        It’s all about watching each other’s backs…and you’ve got to remember I come from a big publishers returns center background…and when you see, first hand, that these big pubs make more money shredding their authors returned books and then sending the paper bales to be made into toilet paper THAN they do selling their authors’ books…it scares the hell outta ya for all those authors.

        Traditional Pubs numbers may look good on paper…but that paper is worth more to them in toilet paper than in book sales.

        • Misa says:

          “Traditional Pubs numbers may look good on paper…but that paper is worth more to them in toilet paper than in book sales.” LOL! I know you have inside info on the return/inner workings of the trad. pub world. I hate HATE that this happens. Transparency isn’t a part of publishing, it seems.

          I love that we can have conversations like this, have different perspectives, and discuss it with grace and civility! You rock, DD!

  4. Misa says:

    Well said, Tonya!

  5. L.A. Lopez says:

    Brick and mortar space these days is very valuable property. Most of the isles have been reduced from three for a genre in some cases down to one. Romance use to be five, now it’s two in our local B&N and in Borders before it closed, it was one. I’m with Misa and the e-pubs, they’re so many now, and they publish so much, (because their booming right now) authors get lost, and have low and discouraging sales, because they rely on those publishers to promote them. If you’re going to publish in any format, an author has to be prepared to really push their product and sell it on their own. It’s the nature of the beast. As my mom use to say, and I hear her saying it now, “If want something done right, do it yourself, and don’t complain.”

    • D. D. Scott says:

      And boy are we in luck, Lee, as far as fabulous ways to Market and Promote our work…

      Our very own, super fabulous Tonya Kappes…oh, and Misa Ramirez too…have their new book TRICKED OUT TOOLBOX: PROMOTION AND MARKETING TOOLS EVERY WRITER NEEDS coming out I think in April!!!

      Maybe we could get ‘em to do a Saturday WG2E Feature-ette on that very topic…hint hint…

  6. Jeanne says:

    I enjoy ALL of your discussions on E-books & traditional publishing. It seems as though the E-book route is edging upward all th time, so it will be quite interesting to see how things turn out!