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2011: The Self-Publishing Year In Review

29 December 2011

From regular visitor and commenter David Gaughran:

This has been a year of massive changes. Some of the older hands say that the business has always been this way.

However, I don’t think we are simply seeing another year of flux. Instead, we are witnessing a process unfold which will revolutionize publishing forever (or at the very least, the foreseeable future).

. . . .


To the surprise of everyone, the post-Christmas e-book boom continued through February, with self-publishers grabbing an ever-increasing share of the genre bestseller lists. When the AAP figures for this month were released two months later, they revealed a historic milestone: e-books became the dominant format for the first time, outselling both paperback and hardcover, capturing 29.5% of the market. In less happy news, storm clouds were gathering at Borders, and the signs weren’t good.

. . . .


While John Locke was posting record numbers and dominating the bestseller lists, two other writers caught the headlines. Amanda Hocking leveraged her phenomenal self-publishing success into a $2m deal while Barry Eisler shocked the publishing world by walking away from half a million dollars to self-publish.

. . . .


It became clear that the e-book revolution would be no respecter of national borders when the frenzy spread to the UK. Amazon announced they were now selling more e-books than all print formats combined. And literary agents began attracting negative headlines as they attempting to figure out a way to make money in this new world. The old order was fragmenting, and something messy and chaotic (and beautiful) was emerging in its stead.

. . . .


In a slow news month, a major US agency (kind of) moved into publishing, JK Rowling moved into self-publishing, and John Locke announced the sale of his millionth Kindle book – and that was just the last week in the month. Earlier in June, two indie authors made history in the UK, the malevolent hawkers of 99c books were accused of destroying minds, publishers were charged with systematically under-reporting e-book sales (and underpaying their authors), and VS Naipul was outed as a prize mysogynist.

. . . .


I released Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should which quickly became my top-seller and almost cracked the Top 1000. I made the PDF version free here which was so popular it crashed WordPress.

. . . .


The month opened with some (more) bad news for large publishers: AAP figures showed that new e-book revenue wasn’t quite replacing the fall off in print. Kobo were purchased in a deal which could have huge implications for the international e-book market. Penguin launched a vanity-esque self-publishing imprint, which attracted widespread criticism. And a best-selling self-published novel inexplicably disappeared from Amazon UK.

. . . .

Thank you for all your support this year. My professional career has really turned around in 2011 – selling around 1,800 books in my first seven months, hitting 5,000 free downloads, and pulling in well over $5,000 – and that’s all down to you guys.

I’m not making enough to live off, but for the first time in my writing career I can see a path to that point – and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m getting checks from Amazon each month which are paying my rent and lots of bills, and they are getting bigger all the time.

The market feels like it has doubled since December 25th. Probably because there are millions of new readers out there filling up their devices right now.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital


David Gaughran, Ebooks, Self-Publishing