To gain a better understanding of the market I’ve entered, I’ve been reading a lot of self-published novels lately. Believe it or not, I’ve picked up a couple of damn good books for free. I’m not a big fan of romance or science fiction, but I found the few I selected to be very well written and entertaining. I’ve settled into a wonderful mystery that I plan to review next week.
My investigation proved what I’d always suspected. The market is flooded with talented and ambitious writers who are determined to sell their stories one way or another. Notice the illustration above. Self-publisher, Abbi Glines, holds both the #8 and #10 spot on this week’s New York Times e-book bestseller list. Self-publishing authors are getting the job done on their own. Imagine what they could do with a little help.
For self-publishers, paperbacks are the weak link.
Querying a literary agent is like applying to college. Many strong candidates submit their applications to the Harvards and the Yales, but only the creme de la creme get accepted into the program. The current industry model allows for too many missed opportunities on both the traditional and indie publishing side.
Wake up traditional publishers. It’s time for change.
Here’s the good news: Self-published authors like Hugh Howey, author of Wool, are paving the way for the rest of us. If you are thinking about publishing a novel, or you hope to publish a novel at some point in your lifetime, you need to read this article in the:
Make sure you scroll all the way down to the “Publishing’s New Hybrid Authors” segment. Top self-publishers are tailoring deals with traditional publishers, whereby the publisher prints and distributes the novel in paperback while the author manages the digital sales.
Let me explain why this makes so much sense. Plenty will argue that no one is reading printed copy anymore, but according to the Los Angeles Times, that’s simply not true. A self-publisher can produce a paperback book on CreateSpace in a matter of hours. With a professionally designed cover and a well-edited manuscript, as long as the plot line is engaging and the characters are strong, the author might achieve a modicum of success. If better avenues of distribution were available, who knows how far the novel might climb up the charts. For the past two months, I’ve been selling books out of my home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered my friends want to read Saving Ben. But it would be a lot more convenient for them, and more people would be tempted to read it, if they could pick up a copy while shopping at Barnes and Noble or Target.
The downside to traditional publishing is the amount of time it takes for the book to hit the shelves. The author has to sell it to the literary agent, who has to sell it to the publisher, who has to then edit and package and distribute. Self-publishing authors are already doing most of the work, including a fair amount of the upfront marketing.
The folks in traditional publishing need to catch up with the rest of the world. Because of advances in technology, we’ve come to expect instant gratification from nearly every aspect of our lives. With Google at our fingertips, we no longer have to spend hours in the library researching facts. Instead of making a series of phone calls to organize an event or plan a meeting, we connect with the masses in a single e-mail with a click on send. Texting allows us to communicate in seconds with our co-workers and significant others. Our world is evolving at such a rapid pace, new news is often considered old news within minutes. The appealing aspect of self-publishing is the instant gratification of seeing your e-book posted on Amazon within 24-hours of clicking submit.
Colleen Hoover is the perfect example of this new publishing model. Last year, her self-published novel, Slammed, made it to the top of the New York Times e-book bestseller list. She published a new novel, Hopeless, in digital form on Amazon in December, 2012, and the paperback—printed by Atria Publishing Group, an imprint of Simon and Schuster— is scheduled for release in May of 2013. This process allows her e-book six months to gain momentum before releasing the paperback in May. A brilliant marketing combination, if you ask me.
Look who’s leading the publishing parade now.