When it comes to writing and selling books, indie authors have a daunting task. Along with all it takes to produce a book (the writing, cover, editing, author platform, social media, marketing strategies, etc.), it behooves us to keep up with the changes in the publishing world. And so much is going on with publishing now. Here are some of the things I’ve repeatedly heard in the last year or so are:
- that print books are dying
- that Barnes & Noble will be gone in 2013 (yes, I’ve heard that)
- that Amazon will take over all ebook publishing
- and more…
I thought it would be interesting to address some of these points. Hang on to your manuscripts…
Indie Authors and Print Books
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Print books are not dead. Yes, we indie authors by and large make the bulk of our sales through ebooks, but if you’re not considering print books, you’re missing out on making some money and spreading the word about your books. I’m not talking a mint, but there is money for the taking…
Let’s talk for a minute about ebook sales in general. Many indie authors have reported slower sales since the summer. Is this because of the Amazon review scandal? Or more competition so it’s harder to sell books? According to Dean Wesley Smith, ebook sales are beginning to level off. Predictions are that ebook sales will level around 30% of trade sales. That doesn’t sound like ebooks are going to be it in the future.
Indie Authors and Barnes & Noble’s Brick And Mortar Stores
The rumors about Barnes & Noble dying continue to abound. But has the death of the bookstore been a bit premature? According to this article, Barnes & Noble indeed plans to close about twenty stores each year for the next decade. That would reduce their stores by a third…a lot, but certainly not all. I also found it interesting that in years past, many people reported that Barnes & Noble closed about fifteen stores a year…but they failed to note that Barnes & Noble also opened about thirty stores a year. Will the bookstore giant eventually close its doors completely? Who knows? But while they are open, they are a potential place for you to sell books…
Indie Authors and Barnes & Noble Sales
I’ve also heard people talk about how Barnes & Noble sales were down this year (11% according to the article). However:
the company still made $317 million in earnings last year, more than enough, according to Klipper, to offset losses from the Nook eReader section of the company, which spends heavily on advertising and new technology.
It’s also interesting to note that Microsoft invested $300 million in a Nook subsidiary last April (more on this below).
Barnes & Noble is committed to making money in their retail stores. We’ll have to see what the future holds for them…but I don’t see them folding this year.
Indie Authors and Amazon
Ah, the elephant in the room. What do we do with Amazon? I fully agree with those indie authors who say that we have to publish there. Absolutely. But I believe more strongly than ever that if you’re not looking at other avenues to sell your books, you are going to be lost in the long run (emphasis long run). It’s hard to say for sure (because Amazon is cagey with its figures) but it appears that they have about 50% of the total ebook sales. Kobo and the iBookstore are reporting growing sales in the U.S. What is even more important to note is that both are doing much better than Amazon worldwide. If you’re in KDP Select, you’re missing out on sales opportunities elsewhere…
Indie Authors and The Future of the Kindle
It will be interesting to see what Amazon does with ebooks as the Kindle dies out…and yes, it looks like it may well be gone in the future (and the Nook as well). Sales of Kindles and other eReader devices are slowing at a rapid pace because of tablets. Sales of Amazon’s eReaders did not go as well as expected this last holiday season. Amazon has put a lot of money into their eReaders, selling them at a loss, banking on money being made from ebook sales. But with the rise of Kobo, Apple and more, combined with the decline of Amazon’s eReaders, what will Amazon do to indie authors and their books…stay tuned.
Indie Authors – Things to Keep in Mind
I think Dean Wesley Smith has it right. He’s been in publishing for over thirty years and he’s seen a lot of changes over the years. According to Smith, we are in the new normal. So what should we bear in mind?
- it’s a marathon, not a sprint…few people hit it big in a short time, so give your writing career time
- building your author platform takes time as well – it doesn’t hurt to start now, even if you don’t have many (any) books available (more on this in a future post)
- don’t neglect Kobo, iBookstore and other places to distribute your book(s) – yes, Amazon’s KDP Select may be good to help launch a book, but staying exclusive in the long run very well may kill your career
- don’t neglect Kobo (it bears repeating) – they are huge in international sales and they are moving into indie bookstores (more on Kobo in future posts)…there is money to be made here
- write good books…and don’t neglect the editing (you’re only hurting your sales if you do)
- be aware of Amazon, the good and the bad…if you go exclusive with them, do it with your eyes open (be informed)
- don’t neglect print books
- hang on to your dream
I like what Deion Sanders says about dreams:
If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.
If you love writing, keep at it. If you want to sell books, keep at it. It can happen…
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