From Publishers Weekly:
In 2015, self-publishing saw a number of high-profile success stories. Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Redemption became the first novel by an indie author to find shelf space at Walmart, and Andy Weir’s The Martian, originally self-published, was released as a major motion picture starring Matt Damon. Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake received major traditional media coverage and was reviewed in the New York Times (albeit after it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 and picked up by Graywolf Press), and such writers as Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Deborah Bladon, and Tijan saw their indie books reach the New York Times digital bestseller list. Crowdfunding also continued to be a popular platform, with dozens of publishing projects successfully funded on Kickstarter, covering everything from teaching programming to kids to a Lil Bub picture book.
All this came during a general slowdown in e-book sales overall, with a 10% drop in digital sales in 2015, according to the Association of American Publishers. Penguin Random House exited the self-publishing business altogether with the sale of its troubled Author Solutions to a private equity firm, and subscription service Oyster announced that it was closing up shop in early 2016. Despite these shake-ups, many established self-publishing trends in terms of pricing and the popularity of genre fiction continued unchanged from previous years. We talked to some industry experts who discussed what they saw in 2015 and what their predictions are for the industry in the year ahead.
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A steady stream of authors took publishing deals only to return to self-publishing, while traditional authors, such as bestselling comic book author Warren Ellis (Cunning Plans: Talks by Warren Ellis), continued to explore self-publishing as a supplement to their other work. This makes sense financially: a survey by Digital Book World found that hybrid authors earn the most money, with a median income between $7,500 and $9,999 a year, followed by traditionally published authors ($3,000–$4,999), and indie authors ($500–$999). The assumption that authors only use self-publishing until they can secure a traditional deal bears out less and less.
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Longtime bestselling romance author Lindsay McKenna left Harlequin for self-publishing in 2014 and then signed with Kensington in 2015—and has a number of indie titles in addition to her Kensington titles slated for 2016. Some authors rejected the traditional deal outright. New York Times bestselling indie authors Keeland and Ward went looking for a traditional deal for their coauthored novel, Cocky Bastard—but the offers they received weren’t in the realm of what they felt they could make publishing it themselves. The novel went on to hit the New York Times bestseller list in 2015. “Many [publishers] are beginning to be understanding of the wish to be hybrid, and the business sense behind it,” McGuire says of the continuing shift toward the hybrid model.
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There are two main challenges that have yet to be overcome when it comes to self-publishing versus traditional publishing. The first is print distribution and lack of shelf space in bricks-and-mortar stores. While indie authors continued to hit the bestseller lists in 2015, their presence in physical shops was negligible. Coker, the Smashwords founder, predicts that this will change With indie authors consistently hitting the national bestseller lists, he says, booksellers would be wise to carry those titles. Though total digital sales have reached the millions, many readers, even younger readers, still prefer print. In a study conducted by Publishing Technology, 79% of millennials said they read a print book in the last year—nearly double the amount who chose to read an e-book on any device—and 28% have discovered new books at retail stores. Indie authors want to capitalize on this market share.
Though many bookstores have small indie sections or may want to carry more indie titles, it is not always such an easy thing to do. The terms set by self-publishing platforms such as Amazon’s CreateSpace are famously incompatible with the way booksellers operate—that is, with a discount of 40%–55% and the ability to return books.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly