Sunday, March 6, 2011

Off Topic: Do Authors Need Publishers Anymore?

The website Business Insider published a story by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry about independently published author Amanda Hocking who is very successful selling books on

And she shouldn't. She gets to keep 70% of her book sales -- and she sells around 100,000 copies per month. By comparison, it's usually thought that it takes a few tens of thousands of copies sold in the first week to be a New York Times bestselling writer.
The comparison isn't entirely fair, because Hocking sells her books for $3, and some $.99. But that's the point: by lowering the prices, she can make more on volume, especially impulse buys. Meanwhile e-books cost nothing to print, you don't have to worry about print volumes, shelf space, inventory, etc. And did we mention the writer keeps 70%?

This raises any number of interesting points about the publishing industry and what direction its going to take in the future.  From the price of e-books, to the price of regularly published books, to the issue of what route is better for an author to take, being published by a publishing house are trying to go the independent route, and how exactly should an independent author market their e-books.

Ms. Hocking is apparently very aware of some of the attention she is getting recently and has a very good post on her blog regarding the perils of publishing whether you are an independent author or not.
Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren't all that different, and I don't think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren't. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it's harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.

I don't think people really grasp how much work I do. I think there is this very big misconception that I was like, "Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now," and then I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account.

This is literally years of work you're seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that
isn't writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.
All of this brings me to the question, if you are an author, do you need a publisher anymore? Are you better off going independent and taking the chances with your own marketing and writing abilities will carry you to success?

It will be interesting to see if we see any large number of successfully published authors cross over and self-publish going forwards.  Quality work will find an audience in our new social media world and it seems like as social media, electronic books and the internet continues to evolve we will see an increase in this trend. 



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