Home » Author Earnings/Vanity Presses, Big Publishing, Mike Shatzkin, PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Self-Publishing » The latest marketplace data would seem to say publishers are as strong as ever

The latest marketplace data would seem to say publishers are as strong as ever

19 October 2016

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

This post began being written a couple of weeks ago when I recalled some specific misplaced expectations I had for the self-publishing revolution and started to ponder why things happened the way they did in recent years. It turns out a big part of the answer I was looking for provides clarity that extends far beyond my original question.

For a period of a few years that probably ended two or three years ago, we saw individual authors regularly crashing bestseller lists with self-published works. Some, like Amanda Hocking, parlayed their bootstrap efforts into significant publishing contracts. Others, like Hugh Howey, focused on building their own little enterprise and tried to use the publishing establishment for what it could do that a self-publisher couldn’t. (In what was certainly a very rare arrangement of this kind with a major indie author, Howey made a print-only deal for his bestseller, “Wool”, with Simon & Schuster. And he made foreign territory and language deals and Hollywood deals as well.) And we know that there were, and are, a slew of indie authors who self-publish through Amazon and don’t even bother to buy ISBN numbers to get universal distribution under a single title identifier, effectively keeping them out of bookstores.

All of this was enabled by three big changes to the historical book publishing and distribution ecosystem. One was the rise of ebooks, which simplified the challenge of putting book content into distributable form and getting it into the hands of consumers. The second was the near-perfection of print on demand technology, which enabled even print books to be offered with neither a significant investment in inventory nor the need for a warehouse to store it. And the third was the increased concentration of sales at a single retailer, Amazon.Between print and digital editions, Amazon sells half or more of the units on many titles and, indeed, may be approaching half the retail sales overall for the US industry.

. . . .

What the rush of indie bestsellers told us a few years ago was that things had changed to the point that a single person with a computer could achieve sales numbers that would please a big corporation going after sales with the tools provided by tons of overhead: careful curation and development, sophisticated production capabilities, teams of marketers and publicists, legions of sales people, and acres of warehouse space. This had not been possible before ebooks. And the market reach of the amateur publisher was extended even further asAmazon’s share of print sales surged as a direct result of retail shelf space declining with Borders’s passing and Barnes & Noble’s shrinkage.

For a period of time that was relatively brief and which now has passed, agents and publishers worried that self-publishing could be appealing to authors they’d want in their ecosystem. The author’s share of the consumer dollar is much higher through self-publishing. And the idea of “control” is very appealing, even if the responsibility that goes with it is real and sometimes onerous.

. . . .

I’d suggest that the biggest reason this activity was so feverish 2-to-4 years ago and isn’t so much now was revealed first in a vitally important post by hybrid author and helper-of-indies Bob Mayer and then reiterated by the latest report from the Author Earnings website.

Mayer built an impressive business for himself by reissuing titles of his that had previously been successfully published and gone out of print. He spells out clearly what has changed since the days of big indie success and the plethora of entity-based publishing initiatives.

The marketplace has been flooded. An industry that used to produce one or two hundred thousand titles a year now produces over a million. Nothing ages out of availability anymore. Even without POD keeping books in print, ebooks and used books make sure that almost nothing ever disappears completely. And Mayer’s sales across a wide range of titles — his and other authors whom he has helped — reflect the mushrooming competition. They’re down sharply, as are the sales of just about everybody he knows.

What Mayer wrote tended to confirm that the breakthrough indie authors happened far more frequently before the market was flooded. Authors who struck it rich in 2010 and 2011 (like Hugh Howey) were lucky to get in before the glut. Recommending that somebody try to do the same thing in 2013 or 2014 was telling them to swim in a pool with water of a completely different temperature.

On the heels of Mayer’s piece, Author Earnings made discoveries that seemed to startle even them. For those who don’t know, AE is a data collection and analysis operation put together by indie author Hugh Howey teamed with the anonymous analyst “Data Guy”. The AE emphasis is on what the author gets, (“a site for authors by authors” is what they call themselves) with less interest in what publishers want to know: how topline ebook revenues are shifting.

According to the industry’s best analyst, Michael Cader, the most recent AE report shows, for the first time since they’ve been tracking it, a reduction in earnings for indie authors and an increase for published authors. (Cader may have a paywall; here’s another report from Publishing Perspectives.) But even more startling is the shift in revenue. Publishers have booked 65% of Kindle revenues and Amazon Publishing has 10%. They put self-published authors at 20%, which is down from 25% previously.

. . . .

What this is telling us is that, whatever deficiencies there are in the way publishers are organized for publishing today, they clearly are able to marshal their resources more effectively for book after book than indies can.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

PG says it’s interesting that Mike and others associated with Big Publishing debunked Author Earnings for its methodology (which, in PG’s distressingly humble opinion, they took way, way too long to understand) and its results.

Beginning in October 2014, as AE released report after report showing indie authors capturing a larger and larger share of the ebook market, the same criticisms continued.

Now, when the latest AE report shows an interruption in this trend, AE has suddenly become a reliable basis for saying this self-publishing thing is just a fad and Big Publishing will be fine after all.

While he doesn’t have any inside information or amazing predictive powers, PG says market data, particularly sales data, flucutuate.

While AE is a brilliant idea, it is a snapshot based on one day’s sales ranks on Amazon. A series of eight AE reports from October 2014 to May 2016 showed that indie authors were capturing a larger and larger portion of ebook sales. With each report after the first, a trend emerged and its reliability strengthened. The first AE snapshot was not a fluke, created by a single day’s fluctuation. Neither was the second, etc.

While PG was as surprised as anyone that the latest AE report showed a reversal of the previous trend, sales data fluctuate. We’ll have to see several more AE snapshots to understand what, if anything, is changing.

However, the economics and technology that underlie indie authors and their success with self-publishing haven’t changed.

  • Large numbers of people who become more and more accustomed to spending their days and nights reading emails, texts, news, etc., etc., etc. from their phones and tablets are unlikely to suddenly decide they really want to read a physical book.
  • The aggressive pricing of ebooks practiced by indie authors is not going to lose its power to attract new readers and retain existing ones.
  • We are not going to see a larger number of physical bookstores opening than are closing. A bookstore is a lousy financial proposition.
  • It’s not going to become easier for traditional authors to support expensive traditional publishers operating in high-cost cities.
  • As time goes by, readers will continue to discover that indie authors produce books that equal or exceed the quality of those created by legacy publishing. Once that discovery is made, it is not forgotten.

Author Earnings/Vanity Presses, Big Publishing, Mike Shatzkin, PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Self-Publishing

83 Comments to “The latest marketplace data would seem to say publishers are as strong as ever”

  1. Ah, Mike? Weren’t your qig5 buddies reporting losses this past bit?

    And ‘strong as ever’ would suggest they wouldn’t need propping up by coloring books.

    ETA

    And maybe it was there and I missed it, but something useful in the A&E would have been e/a/book sales over those same times to see if total buying had dropped or climbed as well.

  2. I intend to read the whole of Mike’s article and comment again… but….

    What I want to say for now is that this whole analysis of the strength of traditional corporate publishing reminds me of the famous quote:

    “How did you go bankrupt?”
    Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

    ― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

    My prediction is a tremendous washout in the bricks and mortar retail bookstore space in the next Greater Recession (whenever that is, but I do think I see it on the horizon).

    Absent the bulk of today’s bookstores, including the mega corporate chain…, the game will completely. Wrote a piece recently on “I, For One, Will Miss Bookstores” at AuthorBusinessCEO.com.

  3. These conclusions have nothing to do with the reality where I live. Sales have tripled in 2016.

  4. Considering that “indie” authors all too often slop out books that are not edited, either for grammar or sentence structure and which have five dollar covers, the belief that indie authors will edge out major publishers is ridiculous. As someone who has worked in many areas of professional publishing, I’ll mention that about 98% of the manuscripts submitted to agents/publishing houses are slop. Sheer slop. So for all those ranting and raving against publishing houses, and who feel that they can appropriate…simply because of some sense of self-anointing hubris…a publisher’s checkbook and the time and effort of their staff, Please! Sell Your House and do put all your money where your mouth is.

    As to Hugh Howey, there are times when a badly written book does well because it has a unique idea that catches on. Howey’s book is poorly written, with numerous plot and grammatical mistakes. Similarly, the terrible writing of those vampire books (Twilight, ugh!) and those books with violence towards women as “sexy” (Fifty Shades of Grey).

    Publishers receive thousands and thousands of submissions, directly and from agents. The competition is tremendous. Most of these books have been honed over years of writing and rewriting. Too many of the indie books are just two-week slop jobs. So again, do sell your house and book your money behind that book you wrote.

    • Do you feel better after vomiting out your bellyful of self-serving lies?

    • Really? Trad-pub doesn’t do ‘slop’? At all?

      But then one of them bought the rights to 50Shades because it seems ‘slop sells’.

      Or maybe your ‘slop’ isn’t what others are seeing as slop?

      Oh, and we’ve never seen trad-pub not bother editing something they slapped a free crap cover on either.

      If you don’t mind the personal question, what planet are you currently on that trad-pub never does slop?

      • Too late to edit after laughing.

        “that “indie” authors all too often slop out books”

        Meaning they’re too fast for you?

        “I’ll mention that about 98% of the manuscripts submitted to agents/publishing houses are slop.”

        So writing slower didn’t fix them?

        And please point out the ‘slop’ books from Hugh Howey, so we can see what you consider as ‘slop’.

        “Publishers receive thousands and thousands of submissions, directly and from agents. The competition is tremendous. Most of these books have been honed over years of writing and rewriting.”

        But earlier you claimed that 98% of those were ‘slop’ — you can’t have it both ways.

        And since we ‘know’ that 99.9% will sit there a year or so before getting a ‘rejection notice’ why would anyone not self-pub?

        “So again, do sell your house and book your money behind that book you wrote.”

        ‘Book your money’? Are you getting sloppy on us? 😛

        • And please point out the ‘slop’ books from Hugh Howey, so we can see what you consider as ‘slop’

          I would love to see multiple examples. Because everyone has the occasional awkward turn of a phrase. I find them in the trad published books I read, and in indie offerings, and I read quite a few of both. I’ve read several of Howey’s books and have not noticed sloppy writing in any of them.

    • Wow, bitter much?

      I would like to point out that if all the submissions you are seeing are bad, all that proves is all the submissions you are seeing are bad (if that is indeed true and not just evidence that you are too burnt out and need to find a different career where you don’t feel like insulting your business partners). Extrapolating from your sample size too all of everyone is impossible without completely invalidating your argument.

      FYI so you don’t lump me in with your rant, I am not an author, I am a librarian who happily purchases indie published books for my library.

      • Hmmm, maybe they are an agent that’s upset that writers are no longer losing 15% to them?

        As only the new/clueless would be sending an agent anything anymore, that could help explain them seeing nothing but ‘slop’ (not that I think they’d recognize the next mega hit if it bit them on the backside. 😉 )

    • Do you see the contradiction in your own assertions? You say that indie authors won’t edge out major publishers because indie books are “slop”. You then point to three “slop” book series (1 indie published, 1 from a major publisher, and 1 that was a bit of a hybrid) that were enormously successful in the marketplace. If being “slop” didn’t prevent those books from being successful, what’s your point?

      Your opinion of what makes a superior product doesn’t seem to be shared by the market, so why should anyone listen to you?

    • I’m sorry, were you speaking of the 50 Shades book published by Random House and the Twilight book published by Little, Brown?

      Surely not. I must be mistaken.

    • 50 Shades was badly written and cliched and slop. Heck, it was free fan fiction before it was altered for publication.

      But people wanted to read it, so publishers wanted to put it out there.

      Publishers want what sells, even if it’s slop. Period.

      And as in most things, most of anything is slop. The question is do authors need–or want–the publishers/agent merry-go-round of rejections anymore? No, they can self-publish and take the risks themselves.

      No need to sell the house. I know folks making small change to large bucks on way less than a thousand spent per book. Some spend less than 200 per book and make thousands back. It’s up to the author how much to “back” their book.

      I also know traditionally published authors (multiple books) who have to do their own promo and accept crappy contracts.

      Neither side is perfect. An author can do both–hybrid–or stick with one. It’s up to them to look at pros/cons and decide. And that’s nice. A choice. There wasn’t that choice when I was young. Times a-changing…

    • Smart Debut Author

      Uh, Jackie?

      Don’t be bitter.

      While you pack up your cardboard box, you can console yourself with the thought that you and your publisher employers had quite a scam going, “publishing” books that authors had already done all of the hard work to create.

      And despite adding almost no economic value, you managed to get away with taking of the bulk of writer’s earnings for decades, because authors were such dumb sheep.

      So, keep smilling. There’s always that. 😀

    • Ah…Twilight was put out by a publisher. Bad example, as it tends to destroy your argument a bit.

    • Chuckle.

      Using trad pubbed books as an example to crap on self-pubbers? Hahaha!

    • Someone call The Onion. This is perfect for them. 🙂

    • As someone who has worked in many areas of professional publishing, I’ll mention that about 98% of the manuscripts submitted to agents/publishing houses are slop.

      As someone with two years of high school and many years as a professional goat roper, I couldn’t agree more.

      What’s even worse is the ignorance of the consumers. They keep buying those independent books. Can you believe it?

      When they steal all that market share, they are taking money that rightfully belongs to the publishers. Publishers built this industry, and now those crappy covers and run-on sentences are takng money that should go to real books, real publishers, and real authors.

      And Howey? I know what you mean. I hear he wears white after Labor Day.

    • True, but you won’t make any friends here by pointing out unpleasant realities.

      • You certainly won’t make any friends here by pretending that a New York publisher’s colophon is the sole and sufficient guarantor of literary quality. That’s nonsense and you know it perfectly well.

        Does it make you feel more like a man when you insult everybody else on this site?

    • And yet, you bought this “slop” and read them all. Sounds like a win for Howey, Meyer, and James.

    • Ahhhh, I just laugh all the way to the bank when I see crap like this. What else can you do but laugh at how clueless some people are?

      I’ve written and published 50 books.
      80 percent of my career revenue is from my 30 indie published books.
      Even the OP can do the math on that, right?
      Bottom line: my indie slop is MAD profitable.
      Gotta go churn out some more.

    • 10/10, would troll again!

  5. PG, Thank you for articulating the truth so well.

  6. …a reduction in earnings for indie authors and an increase for published authors.

    So…indie authors are not published authors? Really? Love the way folks in the trad pub court sling the disrespect. Feh!

    • Self-serving correlation. The real world doesn’t work this way, where the OP connects one’s up to another’s down. It’s a not a zero sum game. I can have a good year and you can too. But who wants to read something like that?

  7. I do expect some die-off of the quick-buck indies. Not a big shock (and there were some quick bucks to be made). What I would be interested in learning is how many manuscripts the legacy publishers are getting these days, and how many of *those* are “slop”, and how many of their established, selling authors aren’t returning their calls or emails.

    Maybe this is a coded cry for help. “Come back,indie doesn’t love you like I do! How can I exploit you if you won’t COME BACK???”

  8. A couple of points temper the celebration of the resurgence of traditional publishing.

    1) Big publishing did not see significant gains in the snapshot. Amazon saw the greatest gains by far in market share by unit sales. Small publishers had impressive gains in market share by gross dollar sales. Uncategorized single-author publishers also showed a significant uptick although this might be partly an artifact of the number of authors tracked increasing so much for the previous report that AE didn’t have the time or resources to categorize them. The Big 5 didn’t gain even a quarter of what indies lost in unit sales and declined in gross dollar sales.

    2) The difficult task facing new authors in breaking out in a hyper-competitive market applies to traditionally published authors as well as to indies. In fact, the same AE report that shows a market share decline for indies as a cohort shows that new Big5 authors are having a harder time breaking out than new indie authors. New authors that are selling are disproportionately not Big5 published. If the big publishers want to continue to add to their IP catalogs, they need new authors. Eventually the current big names will die.

    Also, one data point does not make a trend. At the moment all we can do is go, “Hmm, that’s interesting.”

  9. I’m really interesting in what Shatzkin has to say but cannot get past that first sentence–this post began being written…

    He mangles his English so very badly and it is ironic that he covers publishing.

    • “He mangles his English so very badly and it is ironic that he covers publishing.”

      Why? About par with the industry, I’d say.

      Ferran, ESL.

  10. “For a period of time that was relatively brief and which now has passed, agents and publishers worried that self-publishing could be appealing to authors they’d want in their ecosystem. The author’s share of the consumer dollar is much higher through self-publishing. And the idea of “control” is very appealing, even if the responsibility that goes with it is real and sometimes onerous.”

    I read this five times and still have no idea what planet it came from.

    • It looks like text that was composed in English, run through a couple of languages in Google Translate and then back into strange English. His style has gradually deteriorated over time, it’s like reading a business-focused horror novel with an unreliable narrator. “The Tell-Tale Quarterly Report”

      • Complete with ghosts.

        “So, I warned with what felt like prescience, entity self-publishing might present an even greater threat to publishers than independent authors would.”

    • You missed the bit “authors they’d want in their ecosystem.” Authors that can think for themselves and can read a contract or a financial statement are not authors they want in their ecosystem.

    • I want to know why “control” is in quotation marks. Does he think that choosing your own genre and how you write, creating or selecting your own covers, proofreaders, editors, formatters, social media marketing strategy, etc, or is NOT having control?

      MKS: “Entity self-publishing.” There’s an indie thriller there, yes?

      • He thinks it’s funny that writers think they could ‘control’ the other bits better than his trad-pub buddies.

        I also liked the: “For a period of time that was relatively brief and which now has passed …” bit as if things have gone back to what they were before Amazon and others made self publishing so painlessly easy.

      • “Entity self-publishing” is perfectly legitimate. It allows for aliens and AI to publish on an equal footing with human authors.

  11. I wish those from traditional publishing would educate themselves about the nuances of self-publishing.
    As a former Harlequin author (also published by St. Martin’s Press, William Morrow and others) who’s now self-publishing both my backlist and a new mystery series, I see many facets of self-publishing.
    Yes, there are writers who slap something up on Amazon just to make money or bolster their egos. And others who, despite good intentions and talent, are either in too great a rush or too unaware of the need for craft to be publishing their work at this stage.
    At the other end of the spectrum, numerous conventionally published authors are establishing independent careers. We didn’t sudden lose our skills because we’re putting out our own work.
    And of course there’s a large group of authors who’re self-publishing from the start and who take their craft seriously. Some of their work is mediocre, but some is outstanding. This is also true of traditionally published work (as a former reviewer for Publishers Weekly, I’ve seen the gamut).
    Dissing those in the “other” camp, dismissing all self-pubs (or all trad pubs) with ugly generalizations, does no one any service.
    Yes, it’s tough for all of us to reach readers, and challenging for readers to find books they’ll love. The market will continue to sort itself out, I believe, for years to come.
    I hope we can all extend courtesy to each other. Words like “slop” should not be part of the discussion.

  12. Smart Debut Author

    According to the analysts at Publishers Lunch, for the first half of 2016 the Big Five’s sales are down $250 million compared to H1 2015. Every single one of them is down several percent, with PRH down 10% and doing worst of all.

    And that’s despite incorporating the additional sales from five years worth of mergers & acquisitions. It’s despite the thousands of layoffs of Big Five employees and dozens of office closures in the past five years, as they’ve continued to shrink.

    Pretty wishful definition of “stronger than ever,” wouldn’t you say? 😉

    • Don’t forget the increasingly predatory contracts and increased deep-discount accounting.

      • Smart Debut Author

        I wouldn’t know about that, Felix.

        But if trad contracts have gotten more predatory, but desperate authors are still signing them, Shatzkin would probably say that proves his point.

        • They’ve been complaining publicly about the declining quantity of quality manuscripts they’re seeing. And one of the reasons they float for their declines is a lack of monster sellers. Naturally they blame the authors.

  13. “For a period of a few years that probably ended two or three years ago, we saw individual authors regularly crashing bestseller lists with self-published works.”

    So when indie authors show up on the bestseller list, they are “crashing” it. Good to know.

    As to whether or not that continues to happen regularly, I’ll leave that to someone else to sort out.

    • Smart Debut Author

      Last week, a fifth of the books on the NYT Best Seller List for ebook fiction were self-published.

      The books at #2, #4, and #8 on the NYT list were self-published:

      http://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/2016/10/16/e-book-fiction/

      The week before, a fifth of the NYT ebook fiction list was also self-published.

      The books at #8, #12, and #13 on the NYT list were self-published:

      http://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/2016/10/09/e-book-fiction/

      The week before, #4 on the NYT list was self-published.
      The week before that, #8.
      The week prior, #11.

      So Mike’s pretty much high.

      But the really amazing part is that every week the NYT “Best Seller” Lists omit several Amazon-publishing authors, Amazon-exclusive indies, and even non-exclusive indies who are legitimately outselling most of the books on the NYT List that week, but are excluded nonetheless due to the NYT’s “single retailer” fine print. 😀

      • Thanks so much. 😀

        We can always count on SDA to do all the hard work (by publishing’s standards) of doing a few clicks and watching numbers (as opposed to throwing one’s hands up and reverting to Whale Math).

        But yeah, it seems that “individual” authors are hitting one bestseller list or another every single week. I don’t see how that ended 2-3 years ago. It’s happening now; it’s still happening. To verify, all one has to do is know how to use a search engine (something that Mr. SEO claims to know much about).

      • One wonders how long before the Big5 run afoul of the NYT’s single retailer fine print.

      • Hopefully, SMD, you found that list of self-pubbed books “crashing” the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists on IndieReader’s “List Where Indies Count.”

        And we don’t even take into account all of those authors, like Marie Force, who have signed with trad publishers and continue to produce books that make those same lists.

        People in the trad pub industry can’t have it both ways. Fortunately though, authors can 🙂

  14. Smart Debut Author

    I think the latest AE report unearthed all the clues, but somehow failed to put them together.

    The picture’s pretty clear.

    In September 2015, when the biggest publishers switched to agency pricing, Amazon switched tactics.

    – From September 2015 to mid-2016, Amazon ramped up print discounts, severely hollowing out the brick-and-mortar bookstore market.

    – In less than a year, Amazon managed to wrench an additional 5% of the entire US print market away from physical bookstores and onto Amazon.com.

    Now, Amazon is slowly raising those print prices again.

    Why?

    Frogs in a pot.

    Amazon is betting the increase in print prices will drive those brand new Amazon print-book customers to buy ebooks instead, rather than driving them back to brick-and-mortar bookstores.

    So far, based on the numbers, it looks like Amazon is right about that.

    It’s sorta like fishing. When you’re reeling in Five Big Fish, you sometimes gotta let out a little line to keep them from panicking and tearing the hook free. 😉

  15. I’ve become a Indie Author back in 2011, and since then I’ve seen five years worth of first: growth and then decline. I think the growth was due to the novelty of eBooks, lower prices and BIG PUSH by Amazon to sell Kindles, encourage the self-publishing, and populate the library of books available on Kindle. Yes, the eBook market is glutted with books from horrible to OK to very good. Considering that you can self-publish a book so easily will only invite more writers to try it. The glut will become a polar caps melting and flooding. Big publishers’ trick was to limit the books supply, and they still do it via the paper books and book stores. When it comes to eBooks it is a level playing field, and I’m not concerned with the volume of books. I’m concerned only with what I can do to stay on top of marketing my books. As of today my books sell mostly when advertised, even my best selling book which ranked several times as high as number 10 in the vampire genre hardly sells. Am I worried that the end is coming? Hell no. The market is changing and I’ll adopt. And as far as writing, I’ll continue to write because I have fun at telling stories, and keeps me off the streets and bars.
    Push on, the future is ours.

  16. Get back to basics. With close substitutes, low prices beat high prices. We have seen this playng out in AE for the last two years. There is no reason to believe this fundamantal has changed.

    It’s just like widgets. Books aren’t special for publishers or independents.

  17. If they were as strong as ever, they wouldn’t be insisting on audio rights now, as apparently just print and ebook rights aren’t valuable enough. I guess it’s the only format where they could show growth, so they’re getting desperate.

  18. Back before I decided to start on the path to self publishing (should be there in a few months), I would read agent blogs about the publishing industry. Etiquette, that sort of thing.

    After trying some querying and getting nowhere, I did some soul searching and realised how it was actually kind of pointless. The idea of spending hundreds of hours working on a book, agonizing over a query, then sending it off to anonymous people on the other side of the planet just to hear nothing for weeks (or at all) just seemed silly. I revisited the agent blogs, and suddenly everything had a tone of smugness. The balance of power is so weighted against the author I don’t know why I ever bothered.

    I know it sounds like I’m bitter because the querying got me nowhere, but its really more just a realization that I was putting myself through a lot of agony so I could ask for permission from people I’ve never met. So I started a freelance copywriting business, earnt a pile of money and I’m using that to professionally edit my books, and I’ll be publishing them in a few months. I’ve spent a lot of time equipping myself with ask much knowledge as possible, and I’m determined to do it professionally. And honestly, even if I fail, I would rather fail by myself than spend 5 years hitting brick walls with querying.

    Anyway, the tone of that article seems to have the same kind of tone. A return to the old days, where the balance of power was in their favour. But honestly, it seems to me, if you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is, there is nothing that the trads can do that a self publisher can’t. The exception would be getting a printed book in a bookshop, but when most bookshops rely on selling The Great Gatsby, Jackie Collins and cook books, who cares?

    I’m sure the trads will be around for a long time, and I don’t have a grudge against them (lord knows I’ve bought enough of their books), but I’m thrilled we no longer have to go through them.

    • This. So much this.

      Thank you for explaining your choices. Here’s to your success!

      • I hope in the future you’ll post under your author name. I check out the commenters’ books when I can.

        That’s the other nice thing about indie publishing. I can say any stupid thing I want and not worry about a boss pulling the leash.

    • “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

      That’s not bitterness, RightHoJeeves. That’s acknowledging reality. Wishing you the best in your publishing endeavors!

  19. Shatzkin says that indies do not get ISBN numbers and therefore cannot get into bookstores….but it seems to me that in order to create a print book, you have to get an ISBN, at least you do on Createspace.

    So he is comparing apples to oranges here. Yes, there are indies who do not get an ISBN for their ebooks, but the lack of an ISBN is not what is preventing them from getting into a bookstore. It is only the lack of a print version altogether that is preventing them from getting into a bookstore. Ebooks are typically not sold in bookstores, and when they are, ISBNs are not required.

    If they have created a print version, then there is no reason why a bookstore cannot stock or at least order that paper book, as it will have an ISBN.

    • All my print books have ISBNs, and the chains won’t order them. They prefer Allen’s qig5 to small presses.

    • I’ve placed my CreateSpace books in three bookstores (admittedly one on consignment). The other two because they wanted them.

      I believe some bookstores have bought my books through Amazon, through their bookstore portal. I know because I’ve gotten less royalties for them.

    • The bottom line is that you can’t get a self-pubbed book into any brick and mortar bookstore if the terms aren’t right (ie returnable and at a 40-55% discount). Amazon’s CreateSpace won’t let an author set their terms so indie authors have to go through a publisher (ie IngramSpark or IR Publishing Services) which will let them do that.

  20. So, for two years AER meant nothing, was just a lot of hot air, indie smoke and mirrors, and now when one report shows a drop in indie growth, it’s relevant. Nice try, Mikey. But no cigar. Don’t be dancing on the indie graveyard just yet.

    I think Amazon has been doing some stuff behind the scenes (mainly to get rid of some of the worse scammers), and then to launch a couple of new things (Page Flip and POD publishing from the KDP dashboard), which may have come together in an imperfect storm to make records go boom. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they haven’t tweaked algos to make some books rise higher than others (most likely their own imprints).

    What any of this means for the future is anyone’s guess. Likely things will shift back to “normal”, but it may be that we’re facing a lot more competition that we realized was coming. Writers with any sense are getting more and more indistinguishable from perceived trad pub quality, and with more coming in from the other side (going from trad to indie) as well, it’s just going to get harder to get noticed.

    As some might say, the gold rush is over, now it’s down to picking through the rubble for the gold dust. It was coming for a while, for those who were looking.

  21. Shatzkin twigged to AE’s methodology and data being more sound than the rest of the industry gave them credit for at least 14 months ago. So, no, this isn’t a case of him all of a sudden thinking AEs data is accurate now that it shows a decline.

  22. I was wondering if anyone had read further down in the comments from Author Earnings.

    A large number of authors have noticed a huge dip in income due to the page flip debacle and who knows what other amazon change might be contributing.

    To me it’s interesting that Author Earnings is putting it in black and white: Yes, Amazon, you have done something and it’s significantly impacted the bottom line of many authors. please fix soon.

    Anyway that’s my take.

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