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A Look at the Changing Trends in Book Publishing

written by: Rose Smith•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 9/12/2011

Did you know L. Frank Baum had to self-publish the Wizard of Oz? Ever wondered how many masterpieces went undiscovered because a publisher rejected it? Baum used royalties from his successful children's books to make the classic happen. E-books have fueled a powerful self-publishing revolution.

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    The Power of the Traditional Publisher is Diminished

    John Locke 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'. Picture 2 23-25-22 
    • 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.

    sizzling 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.

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    The Amazon Powerhouse

    The Kindle is Amazon's best-selling product in the site's history. And the megagiant business has had quite a history selling books. Over the past few months, for every 100 hardcovers sold on Amazon, consumers bought 180 e-books. James Patterson has sold 1.4 million ebooks -- almost 850,000 of those were Kindle versions. The Association of American Publishers' reports that e-book sales grew 163 percent in May 2011 and 207 percent year-to-date through May.

    Kindle 

    Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers are changing the way the world reads. Advantages of self publishing on kindle versus traditional publishing include:

    • The large number of free domain e-book versions available on e-readers.
    • The lower cost of e-books.
    • The ease of making the text smaller or larger.
    • The ease of searching for text.
    • No need to store large volumes of books.
    • Ease of portability.

    Amazon's Kindle is leading the way to helping consumers discover using e-readers. The device has tripled in sales since Amazon lowered the price from $259 to $189 and Kindle has 630,000 e-book titles available.

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    Self-Publishers are Cashing In

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    While big book stores struggle to remain relevant and traditional publishers lose their strong-hold on the industry, smart self-publishers are partying all the way to the bank. Publishers like author John Locke, who sold one million copies of his self-published fiction novel, Saving Rachel in just 5 months. Even at the low price of $0.99, that's $990,000 earned, with 70 percent of the funds going to Locke. That means he averaged $138,000 a month in those five months.

    Amazon makes marketing and advertising books easy also. The powerhouse has an entire advice section devoted to associates who want to self-publish, market and advertise their works. And putting your book on Kindle is free. You simply pay Amazon 30 percent of each e-book sold. E-book self-publishers are only limited by their own imaginations. No longer can traditional publishers keep a book from publication.

    By far, the largest book publishing trends surround the power of self-publishing along with Amazon's major impact on making e-books popular, making the path e-books have traveled as magical as the steps Dorothy took on the Yellow Brick Road. This has given rise to providing a new type of self-publishing power in which writers can revel. Now, when the next L. Frank Baum comes along with the next masterpiece and the traditional publisher relegates it to the slush pile, she can simply put it on Kindle.

    Looking for more tips and advice? Check out the other articles in Bright Hub's guide, What You Need to Know About Self Publishing.

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    Image Credits

    Renjith Krishnan, Free Digital Photos under Terms of Use

    Screenshots provided by writer

References

  • Salisbury, Julie, "Self Publish or Traditional Publisher?" http://publishingacademy.com/authors/self-publish-or-traditional-publisher-whats-right-for-you-part-3/
  • Chicago News Report, "Borders Bookstores Closing, Liquidation Begins" July 2011
  • Biba, Paul, "Amazon sales 180 ebooks for every 100 pbook", http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/amazon-sells-180-ebooks-for-every-100-pbooks-kindle-sales-triple/