Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
I have come to the conclusion that March 2012 was the month traditional publishing died. They just don’t know it yet.
I tweeted this the other day. All day I’d been reading blog posts, news articles, and discussing it with my wife, who is the smartest person I know (and always has the remote). She reads everything. Every day she reads the NY Times. The entire NY Times, including the classifieds. She reads books, magazines, watches shows. Basically she is a walking source of useless information unless you need information. She remembers everything she absorbs. I have never won an argument with her. It is a man’s normal state to lose every argument with his wife.
I’ve been keeping her up to date on what I’ve been doing with Who Dares Wins Publishing and our great successes and she’s very happy about it. She saw me struggle in traditional publishing for 20 years. We used to get in a lot of arguments because what the publishers were doing made absolutely no sense to her. And she was right. It was very frustrating for me to try to explain the unexplainable. The traditional publishing model is a deeply flawed system. Focused on distributing books to consignment outlets. Accepting 50% returns. Basing future print runs on the past, not the future. Going for celebrity book deals that don’t earn out. Having no formal training or nurturing program for authors. (I still am waiting for any agent or editor to show me a copy of their Standing Operating Procedure for new authors they contract. We have several: called Write It Forward: From Writer To Successful Author; The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author; The Novel Writers Toolkit; and last but not least, Kristen Lamb’s: We Are Not Alone: The Writers’ Guide to Social Media
Digital books changed everything. The distance and time between the author and the reader is no more than the WiFi connection. Yet they still don’t get it. I read Publishers Lunch and see the deals for 2013, even 2014. Hell, the world’s coming to anend at the latter stages of 2012—what’s the point?
At Who Dares Wins Publishing our motto has been Lead, Follow, or Get The Hell Out of The Way. I’m accepting that’s truer than I ever thought. Amazon pulled the buy buttons on the Independent Publishing Group over a contract dispute.The DOJ is going after the Agency Pricing model. Zombies are rushing the ramparts.
I used to think agents could survive by selling subrights. But I have 18 titles on ACX in audio with more in the pipeline. No need for someone to do it for me. A very simple and well-run system. I’m hiring translators and have Spanish, German and Italian books in production to send to the various Amazon, Apple and Kobo outlets around the world. What subrights? I own them and I have distribution. Called the Internet.
Yes. I need editing. Outsourced. Just like translations, audio production, etc. So far I’ve invested $32,000 into Audible ACX. For the long tail. Kristine Rusch has a very nice blog post about the differences in business models regarding scarcity and abundance.
Yes, traditional publishers have their best-selling authors keeping them propped up in their chairs. But how long will that last? The new “mid-list” are author-entrepreneurs who not only know how to write a book but also how to run a business. I EARN a Publishers Lunch “very nice deal” every month in checks direct deposited. By the end of 2012 I plan to make that a “good deal” every month. Who Dares Wins Publishing is a seven-figure business in just 18 months.
Here is the fracture line that will stick a fork in publishing as we knew it: when even for the top 5% of authors all those print books in Sams/WalMart/Costco don’t outsell what they have on Amazon/PubIt/iBooks. That’s a couple of years, maybe just months off. When I say die, I mean the ‘traditional’ part of traditional publishing. It will evolved into something new. A Big Four as some speculate. A Borg entity. Skynet.
What’s staggering is how few publishers/agents/editors/bookstores prepared for the future. Richard Curtis did at e-Reads. But overall, most ignored the future. The music industry got gutted by downloads, but publishing ignored it.
At Digital Book World in January of this year, I was a bit stunned at the lack of knowledge displayed by many industry gurus about how the eBook market really works. At a very simple thing: how do you sell eBooks to readers? It reminded me of historians theorizing about how a battle really happened. If they hadn’t “seen the elephant” they had no clue. It’s the difference between watching Saving Private Ryan and actually being on Omaha Beach.
I love books. Every day when I go down to my office to work, the walls of the stairwell are full of mass market paperbacks. We have an entire room in the front of the house full of bookcases and hardcovers. I have a hardcover on my night-table: Defending Jacob by William Landay. Brilliant writing. Was written up in the NY Times Book Review (yes, my wife read the review and the book. She not only controls the remote, I read whatever she shoves in my hands—she completes me to steal another movie line).
The reality is the way content flows from the author to the reader has changed so fundamentally that—well, that’s the reality.