The Power of the Traditional Publisher is Diminished
With the recent closing of the nationwide bookstore chain, Borders, and almost 11,000 jobs lost, the changes the Internet has had on the publishing world has been felt by everyone in the industry. Bookstores are adapting to survive, traditional publishers are losing their ability to lock-out unknown authors and self-publishers and e-books are thriving. Recent book publishing trends are exciting for manufacturers of e-readers and online retailers. Now traditional outlets are racing to get a piece of the e-book market. The best news of all is that the small, unknown author can virtually become a millionaire overnight through unyielding marketing efforts. Authors like John Locke, who wrote How I Sold One Million eBooks in Five Months are testament to that fact. Even though not every writer will become rich, the self-publishing world of e-books has been a boon for unknown authors.
The Internet is chipping away at the pillars of the stuffy traditional world of publishing. Small authors found it virtually impossible to:
Get traditional editors to stop relegating their manuscripts to the eternal 'slush pile'.
- Even the ones who did get published had to fight a losing battle for retail space with favored authors.
- Get a second manuscript published unless the author lucked-out and had a runaway bestseller.
One of the most puzzling aspects of traditional publishing is the game of 'if it doesn't sell I can return it', that traditional publishers allow bookstores to play. Bookstores can order thousands of books and freely return them if they don't sell, usually within 60 to 90 days of the book's launch date. What happens to the author's royalties? The funds paid in advance based on the amount ordered will be reduced as the publisher credits the bookstore 100 percent for the returned books.
It's one of the most frustrating aspects authors dislike about traditional publishing. That's just one reason self-publishers are flocking to the Internet; no one rescinding 50 percent of an author's royalties for returns. One of the most frustrating days for me when my books were in bookstores was when the UPS truck would show up with one to three boxes filled with both my works, "sold" to bookstores around the country. The returns meant my check would be cut by up to 25 percent. It gave those stores no incentive to sell the books. Since I've been on Amazon, the need for returns has been eliminated and I receive a larger percentage of the profits.