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The Kindle Effect

31 December 2016

From Fortune:

Consider the metamorphosis of self-publishing. For decades it was dismissed as the desperate refuge of authors rejected by publishing houses, wannabes who paid a fee to a musty vanity press that would dutifully typeset their words and transform them into a few boxes of books that the “writers” could hand out to their friends.

Today, thanks to ebooks and Amazon, self-publishing is a global phenomenon—an independent route intentionally chosen by more and more authors—that has spawned not only mega-bestsellers like Fifty Shades of Grey, but also hits in other realms, such as the movie version of The Martian. Ebook self-publishing has become a $1 billion industry.

But there’s a lot less “self ” in self-publishing these days.

A burgeoning ecosystem of supporting services has sprung up to serve independent authors.

. . . .

 Call it the Kindle effect. Amazon opened the floodgates in 2007, the same year it released its first e-reader, when it launched Kindle Direct Publishing, allowing anyone to upload, publish, and sell his own ebook for free. This year Jeff Bezos’s company released 4 million e-titles, and 40% were self-published.

. . . .

Amazon maintains an 80% share of the electronic-book market, and its rivals have gotten the message. Apple’s iBook (AAPL, -0.78%) and Google Play (GOOGL, -1.30%) now promote self-published authors, while Canadian-based Kobo, which sells books in 180 countries, recently added author services to hire professional editors and book-cover designers. Barnes & Noble (BKS, -3.04%) started a print-on-demand service this summer for self-published writers.

. . . .

Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn says indie authors drive 20% of the platform’s ebook sales. “They’re selling better than traditional authors,” he says.

Link to the rest at Fortune


16 Comments to “The Kindle Effect”

  1. could really do without the scare quotes around the word ‘writers’.

  2. I don’t have that many readers yet, but it tickles my fancy to know that I have reviews from a gentleman in Saskatchewan, a woman in Fiji (!) and one in Australia, and a self-styled ‘southern redneck.’

    And keep getting the comment, ‘I didn’t expect to like this, but I really did.’

    Without self-publishing and Kindle and Amazon, there is no way I would have ever been reading material for these readers.

    Now all I have to do is fill in those blanks on the map.

    • And keep getting the comment, ‘I didn’t expect to like this, but I really did.’

      Welcome to the club, Alicia! That’s the most common phrase in my reviews, too. LOL

      • The feared new food is not plain boiled spinach.

        It is spinach quiche. Or spinach pie in a flaky crust. Or spinach dip in a festive party bread bowl!

        And delicious.

        It is such a welcome comment, isn’t it?

  3. Ah, poor “Fortune”.

    They can’t predict what will popup next on the radar with all those self publishers out there — and how can you tell people to ‘invest’ in something you can’t see coming until it’s too late? Never mind most of those self publishers aren’t interested in ‘investors’ — if they were they’d be taking the trad-pub path.

    We should be ashamed we upset “Fortune” by not being predictable. (Yes, I shouldn’t post before caffeine, but it’s new year’s eve and I have other silly things to do before the new year hits us. 😉 )

  4. Lots of good stuff in there, highlighting the growing support ecosystem of honest service providers.

    No cautionary mention of scammers, though.

    And there is this:

    “Packages that include editorial, design, and digital-media-strategy services cost $10,000 to $30,000 at Seattle-based Girl Friday Productions. It’s a relatively new offering from the 25-person firm, which has worked for traditional publishing houses for a decade. Since 2013, its solo-author service business has doubled each year, says cofounder and CEO Leslie Miller. “There’s a lot that goes into making a book,” she says, “and we’re going to take over everything for you.”

    Uh, yeah: all the profits, for starters.

    • There was this warning, probably not enough though. They only warn about hybrid fee taking and profit sharing firms.

      “In addition to the providers that charge fees, there are those that help out in exchange for a cut of profits. Such hybrid publishers and assisted-self-publishing services have a mixed reputation. Some benefit writers, but others can be predatory, charging big commissions just to upload an author’s work to digital platforms. “It’s a buyer-beware marketplace,” says Kobo’s Tamblyn.”

      • Nowhere near enough.
        The scammers that demand copyright as pay are bad enough but at least they have a vested interest in seeing the book succeed. The “service providers” charging $30,000 upfront have no vested interest in the success of the book; they’re more like pickpockets. Grab the money and run.

  5. Drives me bonkers to read AGAIN that Fifty Shades of Grey was self published. It was never self published, except as fan fiction long before it was a novel. Ugh.

    • Urban legends are forever.

    • Self published doesn’t mean they ‘had’ to be asking for money for it. Like that man on Mars one, I keep hearing it was free out there and the only reason he started ‘selling’ it was people wanted an easy way to get it on their kindles.

      So, was 50S out there to be read and became so popular that it was then picked up by trad-pub? (If so, then it was self published.)

      • It wasn’t the same thing that came to be the book(s). That series was never self-published in the true meaning of the term. It was published first by an Australian publisher.

  6. Oops, missed hitting the ‘repy button to @ Marie Force

    Okay, maybe I’m missing something here.

    What is “the true meaning of the term” mean?

    I just happen to have an Australian friend that wrote and posted stories a chapter at a time on his website. He (years) later grouped some of them them together to sell as books. Are you saying they weren’t really ‘self published’ until he grouped and sold them?

    From my understanding just posting it where other could find/read it was in fact a form of ‘publishing’ …

    • She’s referring to the fact that it wasn’t the same manuscript that was published online and then published as a book for sale. The version that was online was a direct fanfiction of Twilight. The version that was published as a book was edited to remove its ties to Twilight. So they are not actually the same work. Fanfiction was published online, self-published, if you will. While a different manuscript that was not fanfiction was published traditionally as a book. The book version was never self-published.

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