Who’s reading what and is self-publishing dropping?
The answers to those questions might surprise you, given the current and conventional wisdom that ebooks and self-publishing are a tsunami of change flooding every corner of the literary landscape. It turns out there’s some statistical nuances to that perception that might inspire, perhaps, a rethink, not only in how one views the publishing industry as a whole, but in how each individual writer approaches their own “industry.”
The information I’m about to share comes from an interesting post written by Ron Knight, whose site, UpAuthors.com, defines itself as follows:
UPAuthors.com is a collaborative effort, founded by marketing expert Melissa Powely and author Ron Knight. This advisor program was developed to give authors a way to share resources and provide economically priced opportunities. These opportunities arise in the ability to have an inexpensive web presence with search engine optimization, the use of social media networks, sharing of like minded contacts, and a variety of resources that can help you along the way in developing your book and your career as an author.
As as independent author open to any new and innovative ways to market and promote my work, I was interested to explore their site and see what they might have to offer someone like me. In doing so, I came upon an article Ron put up last week titled, Why did self-publishing drop 46%?
That title alone caught my attention, as I’ve been led to believe that self-published titles, particularly in ebook, are a growing market trend, with ever-increasing numbers and a burgeoning audience eager to purchase those titles. Ron’s research, it turns out, has led him to a different conclusion, one that appears to be supported by statistics:
In 2010, there were 3,844,278 self-published books. It was a time when people started going on their own to find other sources of income. They put up their own website, uploaded a book to Amazon, signed up for Facebook, and realized that publishing and marketing was cheap.
That turned out to be the problem with self-publishing…cheap.
Books were rushed and poorly written.
Publishing was rushed, which flooded the markets with first-time authors.
Marketing was rushed, producing low results.
In 2012, self-publishing dropped to 2,042,840 titles and in 2013, self-publishing dropped to 1,108,183.
I’m not great at math, but that’s about a 50% drop each year, which means by 2016, there may only be 130,000 self-published books.
Now, having only embarked upon my own self-publishing endeavor in the last few months, I cannot in any way intelligently counter these statistics, but given what I’ve already learned in that short period of time, frankly, they don’t surprise me. What I’ve found most discouraging about the self-publishing industry are the same things Ron cites as reasons for its current downtrend, particularly the quality issue. As one who holds myself and my work to the highest bar possible, it’s dispiriting when, by simple BEING a self-published author, one is automatically categorized, sight unseen, as someone whose book is “rushed and poorly written.” This translates to literary media and journals that will not take submissions from self-published writers, literary contests that exclude self-published books; review sites that will not respond to queries from self-published writers, and so on. Their rationale? Most likely the familiar meme of “books were rushed and poorly written.”
But the downtrend is about more than that, according to Ron. It’s about MARKETING. About how we self-published authors tend to market – or not market – our work:
What’s the main reason self-publishing is fading away?
[Han] Huang, [Director of Product Management for Data Licensing at Bowker] an expert in product management said that self-published books are, “Marketed almost exclusively online.”
Traditional publishing uses multiple ways to market, along with focusing on specific areas to market which is based on the author’s genre, storyline, and characters.
Self-published authors attempt to market books to the entire world via Amazon, social media, and their website.
Ain’t that the truth?!
But for a self-published author who hasn’t rushed a poorly written book into the marketplace but, instead, has a professionally produced, well-edited, and very worthy title to sell — but not a lot of money to spend on big-time marketing and promotion — what is the path to success? We might want to break out of exclusively online promotional options, but what are the affordable choices? Ron has some good suggestions:
Here’s the good news!
Every self-published author that continues on this trend [exclusively online marketing] will fade away. It’s not my opinion…it’s a fact.
For those of you that want to succeed at self-publishing, then you can succeed by following traditional marketing methods.
Here’s a list of traditional ways to market. Remember that you don’t have to do all of this at once. Mix and match, invest what you can, but this is your only way to survive and eventually sell millions of books.
~ Target Market Research (Knowing which cities would purchase your book. Also, which cities have the highest income and education rates.)
~ Book Conferences
~ Book Signings
~ Book Clubs
~ Media Coverage
~ Advertisements (Billboards, Newspapers, Commercials, Movie Theatres)
~ Press Kits
~ Book Reviews
~ Reading Samples/Serialization
~ Speaking Engagements
The next stage should be…
~ Placement of books in big box stores
~ Placement in bookstores, both chain and local (Especially bookstores that report numbers to the Bestsellers List)
~ Placement of books on the end-caps of bookstores and big box stores
~ Film Adaptation (There are resources for film adaptation. See below.)
Some authors feel it’s great news that self-publishing is fading away. This opens the door for authors that are going to stick it out and adjust their marketing. Meanwhile, the authors that rush a book on Amazon will soon fade away.
Start a budget for marketing, even if it’s only $50 a month. This simple adjustment will propel your career, while other authors find a different career…
“There’s a big gap between you and the all-time bestselling authors in the world. Inside that gap are billions of potential readers.” ~ Ron Knight
OK, Ron. Since I intend to be one of those authors who will stick it out and, therefore, will adjust my marketing towards a goal of longterm success, I’m paying attention. And given the wide range of options listed, with assurances that one is not obligated to do it “all at once,” I’ll start making my own list of what to tackle first. I appreciate the information.
If you’d like to read the full piece, which I suggest you do, click over to Why did self-publishing drop 46%?. The UPAuthors site looks to be a very useful resource for any author looking for marketing assistance and information, so be sure to take a look at that too. I plan to avail myself of it in whatever ways I can… dammit, I ain’t gonna be one of those crashing statistics! 🙂
And to those of you new to me and my work, I hope you’ll take a moment before you leave to read through other articles at this blog, as well as acquaint yourself with my published work (After The Sucker Punch, a novel; “She Tumbled Down,” a short story), details of which can be found via my Amazon Author Page HERE.
Thanks… and let’s all keep raising the bar!
Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.