Home » Agents, Dean Wesley Smith, Disruptive Innovation, Self-Publishing » Publishing – Like the Last 60 Seconds of Microwave Popcorn

Publishing – Like the Last 60 Seconds of Microwave Popcorn

29 July 2011

Passive Guy has a hard time keeping up with all the reports of all the changes in the publishing biz.

He will give two good posts less of a treatment than their content deserves.

The first, from Dean Wesley Smith with his latest take on Indie/Traditional:

The Problem

Right now the problem is that a former stable industry is changing at light speed. Faster, actually, which makes everything looks so warped and confused. (Sorry, science fiction joke.) No one knows how this change in publishing will settle out in two or three years.

—No one knows which publishers, which imprints will still be around, and which new imprints and publishers will grow into the challenges.

— No one knows what the agent aspect of this business will look like in three or four years. Or if agents will even be a part of publishing.

— No one knows which writers will make it through. (I actually think the bestsellers are in the worst danger.)

It is that crazy.

My answer to this craziness:

Take everything you can take into your own control and hold on.

What does that mean exactly?

Write like crazy.

Then with what you have finished, spend the next two years indie publishing your own stuff, learning all the tricks of being an indie publisher, and getting your own trade paper books into bookstores.

Then when things settle down in traditional publishing, you will be ready and practiced and have some work to present to traditional publishers.

. . . .

Traditional Book Publishers

My Advice: Put on hold unless approached. Or unless you already have a contract.

Stop mailing to them, stop giving your agent anything to sell. Just hold. Don’t pull books or do anything stupid like that. Just hold and finish your contracts.

And do not burn bridges with editors. They may be one of the editors who still have jobs and that you want to work with in two or three years. Just hold.

In publishing, two years is a blink in time. Even if you sold a traditional publisher a book this fall, it would take a year or more to even get out to whatever bookshelves will be left at that time.

The big downside? Having one of your books be an asset in a publisher bankruptcy can be a nightmare at best. You want to avoid that at all costs.

In two or three years, this publishing world will be finding a new place to settle. We will all know which imprints and publishers have survived.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

And from Heather Massey of the SciFi Romance Brigade:

Yes, it’s a lovely dream, with its promise of a nice advance and mainstream exposure, but I think it’s a dream tied to the publishing industry of the past. In other words, it’s tied into the myth that every book has bestseller potential, along with the idea of celebrity authors. Unfortunately, reality has painted an entirely different picture.

. . . .

So why should authors writing a niche subgenre like SFR view traditional publishers as the only brass ring in town? In the time it would take to submit and hear back from 50 agents (if even that many will look at SFR submissions), an author could conceivably have written three four, five, six, or even seven shorts/novellas and sold them to epubs/small press publishers. And have made money from them within a year’s time!
Can we ignore that kind of math?
Here’s some math that will shed more light on the situation from Everything You Wanted to Know About Digital Publishing But Were Afraid To Ask: A Q&A With Maya Banks:
It is absolutely true that last year I made more in digital publishing than I did with Harlequin, Berkley and Ballantine combined. (and the year before too) I think I nudged out thethree publishers by about 20k. I grossed about 600k so you can do the math there.
How does a 30k advance from a traditional print publisher stack up against 600k in ebook sales? 600k wipes the floor with 30k, that’s how. That’s also the type of “top” worth an author’s blood, sweat, and tears. I doubt Ms. Banks made any kind of advance on her first ebook, but it seems to me her risk (and hard work) paid off.
Here’s some more math (of the anecdotal kind): I have more sci-fi romance to read than ever before—with no thanks to Big 6 publishers. 99.9% of my  new release TBR pile is SFR ebooks. In fact, I recently learned about three ebook sales within the same week—and that’s just what came to my inbox. Digital publishers have a much faster turnaround time than traditional print ones.
Link to the rest at SFR Brigade

Agents, Dean Wesley Smith, Disruptive Innovation, Self-Publishing

9 Comments to “Publishing – Like the Last 60 Seconds of Microwave Popcorn”

  1. Nice, PG. Yeah, lightning fast changes in the publishing world. The shakeout/shake up is both interesting and engrossing. And a bit overwhelming.

  2. FYI – the link to the SFR Brigade is broken.

  3. Patricia Sierra
    • Patricia – I wonder if this is a prelude to more emphasis on Amazon-curated publications. I haven’t seen or heard of any stats on whether Amazon Singles make much money for authors listed there.

      On a related topic, I may need to start insisting on some butter to accompany every additional internet pop that shows up. 🙂

      Thanks for your continuing contribution of thoughts and news.

  4. Thanks for the link roundup, PG! I especially loved the SFR Brigade one linking to Maya Banks’s Q&A at Dear Author.

    Oh. My. God. 600k! Talk about incentive.

    What’s even more impressive is her business-minded attitude and great work ethic, just like Dean Wesley Smith, and her no-nonsense advice. It’s interesting to see her come to self/indie-pub for her own reasons, too. Just a fantastic Q&A.

    • Thanks, Sam. I agree we can all learn a lot from Maya’s pragmatic and long-term view of the value of her work.

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