I read a fascinating post today about the difficulties all of us indie, or self published authors face. If you just take the basic facts, how many books are being put out, how few copies sell well, how few authors are making a decent income, it looks really depressing.
However, and this was the comment I left on the post, it’s also a really exciting time. We’re seeing the old system fail to evolve fast enough, unable to find a way to make money in this new landscape and struggle to maintain the status quo. But all of us looking at them can see the writing on the wall, if they don’t adapt fast they’re going to lose all relevancy.
Right now, publishing is going through a massive shift. Anyone who has ever wanted to write a book can do so and put it out. Thousands of books are being published every single day, many of questionable quality, which means that while we’re able to put out books easily the supply far outweighs the demand and it’s only getting worse.
In some ways that’s scary, but in other ways this is the growing pains of all of us trying to figure out a new system. That means there’s a lot of opportunity right now for all of us to try new things and the ideas that are successful will shape the future of publishing.
What I think is going to happen:
1. Traditional publishers will shrink. Period. Even those that can adapt, they’ll never be what they were before. The self publishing age has come.
2. Working with a different model, new publishing companies will be very successful. Enterprising, talented people will get together and form new publishing companies that operate in new ways. They’ll take networking to a new level. They’ll take lessons from what the traditional publishing companies used to do well, services that indie authors still require, like editing and promotion, and base themselves on providing those services.
3. Talented indies will band together. Maybe they form a company like in #2, or maybe they just come up with a guild, whatever, but they’ll come together. Mutual marketing, mutual promotion, advice and networking. They’ll build a huge platform together out of their combined bases. Instead of a million authors clamoring for a limited audience, those that band together will have a louder voice and as long as their work is solid the readers will follow them.
4. People complain about the lack of quality in some self published books. Those authors will either join one of the guilds and improve their work, or they’ll be a solitary voice competing with the groups/guilds of solid writers. Their books will not succeed in comparison. The cream will rise to the top.
So, while traditional publishing will never be the same, there is tremendous opportunity right now. Try new things, get together with other writers, we’re all in this together. And personally, I’m excited to see how things evolve.