Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my. Where are we headed?

I survived StellarCon and had a blast.  OMG–I am so going back next year, as long as they’ll have me.  And as long as I’m on the topic, MystiCon was fun, too.  It was smaller than StellarCon, but definitely had some very cool programming.  I loved all of my panels from both conventions.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my.  Where are we headed?  panel.  But since I couldn’t, I thought I’d bring my views here to my blog.  And keep in mind, the majority of us were readers before we were writers.  So, this is a topic that pertains to both. 

First, I believe the more technologically savvy readers are, the more likely they’ll be the ones to decide who will rise in the publishing world.  If you don’t believe me, think about cells phones.  Once the technology improved and the prices lessened to where everyone could afford one, they took off.  Some seemed to be more connected to their fancy phones these days than the one that’s plugged into the wall at home.  It’s only a matter of time before ereaders do the same.  And even though there are  many readers who love the tactile feel of the paper between their fingers, are they really interested in paper or the actual story?  Sorry guys, but I buy a book for the story. 

So where does that leave readers who cling to the paper?  Right where they are now.  They’ll still be able to hold a book in their hands (though their choices will lessen) and here’s why I say that.

Contrary to some beliefs, print-first/traditional publishing won’t die a horrible death.  They will only keep those authors who they know will sell out of their advance.  After all, they’re in this for the money and they’re losing it with every author who hasn’t proven themselves as bestsellers.  That means publishers take less chances than they are now and offer fewer advance dollars.  Again, they’re not going out of business.  Just decreasing their print runs–no thanks to the Borders demise–and their offerings.  

This is assuming those publishers embrace ebooks the right way (lesser prices) and they pay their authors a %40 royalty rate.  The more traditional publishers concentrate on ebooks, the more there’s a chance they’ll see their bottom line strengthen.  Ebooks will give them the revenue they need to keep authors in print and their lights on.  After all, ebooks have increased 135% in sales this past year and it keeps getting better.  Mass market, hardcover, trade paper, etc.  They’ve all gone down.  Granted ebooks are still a small part of the market shares, I have a feeling it won’t be like that for much longer.  Not when people care about their bottom line as much as the publishers do about theirs.  😉

Epubs who got it right from the get-go or have taken time to earn their reputation, will be around for a LONG time.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they become major players in the publishing world.  They’ve been at this game for a while and know the ins and outs.  Even better, they adapt way faster than a traditional pub can.  When I first came onboard with Samhain, it seemed Chrissy Bashear was working left and right to get our books available in every format and outlet possible.  Her willingness to seek out new opportunities has yet to slow down.  It took how long for NY to catch on?  Epubs have been at this business for years, so they know how to sell an ebook. 

As for indie pubs, I have no doubts they’ll survive simply because it’s our world to do whatever we want.  We take our work to the readers and don’t look back.  There isn’t an editorial review board or a marketing board to go through.  No senior editor or an agent involved.  It’s all about the writer having direct access to their readers.  I think it’ll only get bigger, with traditional and e-pub writers getting into the mix.  Indie authors are already forming groups to cross-promote their books and make sure they reach as wide an audience as possible.  If anything, this will become the largest field with the most choices available.  Now will they be good choices?  I can’t say.  It’ll depend who decides to go the extra miles of hiring competent editors, cover artists, and getting honest/constructive feedback.  It’s a reader’s oyster as much as it is the writer’s. 

Personally speaking, I still haven’t taken my eye off NY because they have the massive distribution channels that indie pubs don’t.  I see them as the ultimate marketing tool for my indie-published books.   When I’ll dip my toes in those waters again, I have no idea and it’s not really my focus right now.  I’m concentrating on building Dusk Till Dawn Books

Agree or disagree?  I’d love to know everyone else’s thoughts.

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14 thoughts on “Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my. Where are we headed?

  1. Oh, I totally agree with you, Marcia. I was reading today how Avon books is now coming out with an e-book line, and thought how ironic it was that as recent as just a year or two again, people didn’t take ebooks seriously – and now all the major publishers are scrambling to keep up. They are way behind Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, Cobblestone and others. Though, like you, I think if they go about it the right way, they could only strengthen their positions.

    Now, I’m off to buy Bittersweet – I’m really looking forward to it! 🙂

    • THANK YOU!!:D

      I read that about Avon books and all I could think about was, “Didn’t they already do this? If not, why did it take this so long?” This is “lateness” is going to hurt big publishing and make it harder for them to keep up in the future.

      I think Harlequin was smart to start Carina Press because that’s going to be their biggest moneymarker in the years to come. If they’re not up there with Cobbleston, Samhain, and Elloras Cave, they will be. And Harlequin, I’m sure, is banking on it.

  2. I know writers with a step in traditional and e-publishing. One just got her second agent. The other fired her agent. Times are changing, and writers are changing, too. But I think we can do it all. I’m open to all the possibilities, but now I think that if I go with traditional publishing, I’ll go with a different attitude. I’m empowered because I don’t need them.

    • Exactly, Edie. 🙂 We don’t need them. It would be nice to have them, don’t get me wrong. Like I said, they’re a monster promo/marketing machine for all of our other books.

      It would be interesting to know if traditional/e-pub/indie authors have found themselves having different conversations with the editors offering traditional-pub contracts.

  3. Glad you had such a blast.

    I agree with you, epublishing is just a new–super cool–facet of publishing. It doesn’t mean that traditional books are going to disappear. I, for instance, tend to buy both the ebook and paper book. I like the feel, smell… of a paper book, but nothing can beat being able to walk around NYC with 100s of books in my Kindle 😉

    • LOL! I’m betting that’s what a lot of people are thinking, now that they’re downsizing their lives due to the economy. E-books are so much easier than having to worry about whether or not that last book is going their bookshelves.

  4. I’m totally with you with regard to e-publishing, Marcia. I still buy hard copy, but more and more I’m going with the e-book. Price is still a bitch, but I figure I’m also paying for the convenience of having umpteen book on my nook and not on my shelves.

    • I still buy hard copy, too, because I ereaders haven’t come down to my ideal price yet. So whenever I read an ebook, it’ll most likely be on my netbook. One of these days, I hope to enjoy the convenience, too. My shelves will thank me for it. 😉

  5. I am a dinosaur. I like the hardcover paper version in my hand. I just hunt for the best price I can find. Maybe I’ll by an E-Reader when the price comes down. Sure would be nice to have the book in a few minutes as opposed to a few days though.

    • You’re not a dinosaur. You just like what you like and aren’t alone. That’s why I doubt paper books will ever go away. Your choices might lessen, but that’s about it.

      Not only that, but I doubt all of this will happen in a year or so. It’ll take time and it’s dependant upon how cheap e-readers will go. If they hit a magical number like $50 this Christmas, then I have a feeling the e-book market will sore and print will be left in the dust. NY pubs will have to do some major–quick–adjusting if they want to keep their bottom line.

      For me, I hope to buy an e-reader someday, but I’m still waiting for the magical number. 🙂

  6. I’m the book in the hand reader. Why, because the book in my hand is mind! Don’t get me wrong, I think ebooks are great, in that they save tree and all that. They are fast to receive and in some case cheaper. But how about down the road. Will these books be available five or ten years from now? For example: Robert B. Parker – my husband just started to read his books and you can find copies of Parker’s books online and in bookstores. With Ebooks, you really don’t own the books, you just have permission to read it online. If I can download the book and save it onto Cd/DVD then it is mind to keep for years to come. You see what I mean?

    • Hi Dot!

      I’ve been transferring ebooks in mobi, pdf, and lit format across all of my computers for years. They’re mine and I can do what I want with them, including save them on a flash drive or to CD/DVD using a burner. Once I’ve purchased an ebook, I download it to my computer so I can read it from there.

      If you’re downloading to a Kindle device, what you’re describing *might* be the case. A few months back, Amazon was caught deleting books from devices or making them unavailable. Will it happen again? I don’t know, but if Amazon is smart, they won’t cut off the hand that feeds them. It’s also why I’m hesitant on purchasing one.

      Plus, ebooks don’t go out of print like print books do. The first ebooks available were a part of the Guttenberg Project, which was started about forty years ago. Unless it’s a classic, I don’t know of many print books that are that old and still being printed by a publisher. Once a book stops selling, it’s considered out-of-print, even though the publisher still owns the rights. Ebooks are nothing more than electronic bytes that only require space on a server. Server space is a lot cheaper and easier to maintain than physical space on a shelf.

  7. Here again. I just realize what ebooks will soon become like — newpapers and magazines — you read them and then dispose of them. I don’t see how that will help authors to become well known.

    • If that’s the case, then the same can be said for print books. After all, magazines and newspaper are just that. Paper.

      As for being well-known, that’s pretty much luck of the draw. If there were a formula for becoming popular, then writers like Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling wouldn’t be the only ones with successful franchises.

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