I see that the current publishing industry structure is both prohibitive and unnecessary in self-publishing. The rules are set-up for corporate bookselling and do not involve the individual. Fortunately, there is a New Economy forming. It is the Economy of the Author/Expert. The Author is both writer and owner of a small business.
This change will work as long as the Author/Expert is taking advantage of their own Unique Value. The Author/Expert positions themselves as an expert on the topic they are writing about. They need to operate in the mindset of “there is no one else like me therefore my books are unique and cannot be duplicated. And because of this I have no real competition but myself.”
This means the Author/Expert needs to approach everything they do from a relational point of view. This means that their success is based on how they relate to others. Current best practices like Social Media take advantage of being relational. They allow the Author/Expert to connect with people from all over the world. Twitter, Facebook, blogs are a few ways that this is done. The sum of all of these relational efforts becomes their Author Platform.
Their Author Platform allows them to create several products that are not dependent upon the book industry. They include: eBooks, audio programs, Teleseminars, DVD programs, subscription or membership programs, Webinars, Tools and Templates, seminars or live events, speaking, online courses, coaching and consulting, and Mastermind Programs.
Self-publishing now has the tools to efficiently and effectively create a viable small business with results depending primarily upon the Author/Expert themselves.
I have adapted this idea from bestselling author Brendon Burchard’s format for the Author/Expert. His latest book, The Millionaire Messenger, hit #1 on Amazon.com and also the New York Times. This book was published by a small press and is a print-on-demand title with no traditional bookstore/library sales. What a great example to follow!
As the mass market paperback is steadily being replaced by eBook versions it makes me realize that we are not really talking about ebooks as just an additional format but as a change in media. This is very much like the music industry in the 1980s when music albums were moving from cassettes (and in many cases vinyl) to CDs. It didn’t feel like we were getting a new edition of the album but instead an easier to use, portable new media. To me, eBooks feel much the same way. They should be released at the same time as the print version because they represent a change in media not format. By the way, I love the idea that I have all of the books I am reading ( I usually have four books going at the same time) in one place in the palm of my hand.
Of course, publishers want the best of all worlds but there is evidence that they may actually make less money on eBooks than they did on mass market paperbacks. I believe the difference represents the cost of the publishers resisting the future. Fortunately, the real winner is the author. This new media gives them a powerful position in which they get to decide how to publish and for how much. Change is inevitable and fluid. The book industry is riding on this wave of change and large publishers are scared of what beach it may crash down on.
I have mentioned a few related points here but what do you think?
According to Amazon.com they sell more eBooks than they do any other format of books. For the self-publisher, eBooks are an effective way to get your book into the marketplace. This is particularly true with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. There is no set-up fee and you only need a PDF of your book. Amazon converts it to their format for you. They pay a royalty to you on every book sold.
The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) recently published a study on “Consumer Attitudes Towards E-book Reading” which was presented at the annual Digital Book World in New York City. It shows that Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader is the clear leader and has actually increased their market share from 32% to 39% from May 2010 to September 2010. It also shows that Amazon.com is still the favorite eBookstore. Its market share increased from 48% to 62% in 2010. As a self-publisher, this is clearly a place to devote your energy.
You are solely responsible for creating the marketing of your book. By directing your followers to buy your eBook at Amazon, you are being very efficient. Additionally, you are jumpstarting the Amazon merchandising machine to work in your favor. The more you sell, the higher you rank. The higher you rank, the more likely people who do not know of you will become aware of your book.
To Your Success,
The January 24, 2011 issue of Publishers Weekly has an article on Amazon.com’s ability to make further gains as the leader in the eBook business. It states that Apple has sold 7.3 million iPads in the most recent quarter. It also points out that of the eBook purchases made by current iPad owners, 40% of them bought their eBook through the Amazon.com Kindle store. This compares to 29% being sold through the Apple iBookstore. I found this to be amazing but not surprising. Amazon has always played their own way and has continually found their way to the front of each market segment largely by getting there first.
Another amazing statistic (performed by the Codex Group) in this study is that book buyers, before buying a Kindle, made 14% of their unit purchases at Amazon. Once they bought the Kindle their purchases increased to 37%. Wow. As a representative and consultant to self-published authors, I find that these numbers really show that the first place to make your new book available is Amazon.com.
Remember, you should be eligible to participate in their Advantage program which costs $29.95/year. They will buy the books from you at a 55% discount. Also make sure to join Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly Digital Text Platform). This program allows you to create an eBook to go in their Kindle store. All that you need is an unlocked .pdf of the book and they will convert it to their format. They don’t charge an annual fee but pay a 35% or 70% royalty depending on price point.
I have been working these programs for my clients and they are currently where the majority of sales are. It’s fairly easy to do but there are also consultants like myself who will manage these things for you for a fee. Don’t wait! Take advantage of these programs right away.
Is it time to just let Borders die? Anyone who is sending books to Borders is taking the risk of never seeing payment for them. If you have inventory there already you are probably going to be out of luck. It also seems ludicrous for Borders to issue a promissory note to publishers in lieu of payment. Why should any publisher finance their business? It is just time to let them die. Invest more effort in Barnes & Noble. They just had a booming Christmas season. They are struggling financially too but that is more about direction and strategy than it is erosion of the stores. Fortunately, their Small Press Department seems to be functioning well. We can still get listed there and actually have inventory purchased.
In the New Age market, where I have spent most of my publishing years, New Leaf Distributing is showing dangerous signs of future failure. Over the last two years, they have gone from a personal relationship with their vendors to no longer answering calls and emails to reducing staff in each area a publisher or author cares about: purchasing, advertising, and sales. They no longer have buyers for books and CDs. Evolve! Magazine has gone away. They are trying to reposition themselves as someone who will help you with the chains. Who will do that? They have never (in my experience) had any salespeople that even call on the heart of their business, the small New Age/Metaphysical shops. I have pulled the books that I represent from their warehouse. As you all know, the self-publisher is the one really at risk here. We have put out the money ahead of time and cannot withstand any company that is not stable. There are plenty of other avenues to pursue.
This is all a shame. The business I grew up in is going away. The people I have known for many years are displaced. The Big Change is here. As the industry moves more and more to eBooks and Internet sales, why wait to go there?
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