Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Wild Wild West Publishing

I don't think there has been a time since the invention of the printing press during which publishing has gone through such incredible changes.

Yes, I suppose the consolidation that happened over the past few decades, where all the smaller publishing houses were bought by the entertainment multinationals, was big, but I assert that the current changes are bigger. At least from the author's perspective.

A month or so ago, everyone was a-twitter, (literally, and metaphorically), about the news that Barry Eisler and Connie Brockway were leaving their publishers to self-publish in digital format only. And at the same time, that self-pubbed phenom Amanda Hocking was moving to a mainstream publisher.

I wasn't sure what I thought of it all. And I certainly wasn't confident enough in my opinions to say anything publicly. But now that the actual facts re: Eisler and Brockway are out, I've just been nodding my head.

Yes, the world is changing, fast, but at least now their decisions make more sense to me.

When I heard these bestselling authors were self-publishing I thought they were brave, and maybe a little arrogant (to believe their publishers had so little impact on their success), and I did wonder whether they were making a huge mistake or whether they were the smartest authors on the planet, forging new ground, getting higher royalty rates, and getting tons of free publicity by being at the forefront of a new wave (and thereby upping their chances of success).

But now I see that Eisler and Brockway (and Konrath) are in fact going through a publisher -- but a very different kind of publisher, Amazon. A publisher who's going to focus on the digital market, and who's got the marketing savvy and power and cred to up the chances that a book gets noticed. Now that I understand that,  I just think these authors are smart. Probably.

And saying things like print rights are now subsidiary rights of the main digital contract, or print versions of books are great marketing tools for the digital version... Well, that's bold and quite possibly how the industry will develop. Perhaps sooner than any of us could imagine. Who knows....

When did publishing turn from a boring sedate business into the Wild Wild West?


Stephanie Doyle said...

Maureen - this is so funny. I'm blogging tomorrow on something similar. I wrote the blog yesterday... then read Courtney Milan's interview on Dear Author regarding self publishing (count her as someone who also turned down an HQN contract to do it on her own) and realized 1/2 of what I wrote in my blog was already old news.

That's how fast it's moving. It's crazy but in a way thrilling.

And the crazy thing is I'm a walking example of why it's happening. I have not stepped inside a bookstore since buying my Kindle. Print books to me are frankly annoying. They don't fit in my purse. They're not as easy to hold. I don't have to worry about thick mass market vs long skinny trade.

It's all just there for me... at will with the press of a button in a nice neat package.

Maureen McGowan said...

Sorry if I stepped on your post, Steph.

It is amazing how fast things are changing and how rumors spread. I haven't seen Milan's interview yet, but I had heard she'd turned down that contract.

I think it's interesting that the press and the twitterverse reported that Eisler and Brockway were self-publishing when in fact they're not... They're just moving to a big digital first publisher. New, but big with seasoned publishing pros at the helm.

It's going to be an interesting few years...

Stephanie Doyle said...

Maureen - not at all. Different posts just on the same theme.

And I had heard about Brockaway basically allowing Amazon to be her publisher - but does that editorial support.

'Cause that's the thing. Courtney said flat out the first person she could consider paying a % of profits to would be an editor.

Between content, copyediting and proofreading - there is so much a book has to go through to have that "professional" feel.

I think it's what is going to separate the amateur self-pubs from the professional self-pubs.

I also think we've really only touched the surface of the Kindle's potential.

Sure I buy books, they're automatically downloaded. All good.

What happens when Amazon sends a message that appears when I turn on my Kindle... "Author X has a new release. We see you've bought Author X's last 3 releases. Do you want to buy?"

I would LOVE that service. I used to rely on going to the bookstore to see if my favorites had new releases.

Now I check Amazon and rely on RT.

But to have that info just sent to my Kindle???

And think of the benefit to the author. For pete's sake it's like Amazon having an author's already built email distribution list and doing the marketing for them.

And I say AMEN to the publisher doing that work as opposed to the author.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I think what will happen is that Amazon will be to books what Itunes is to music. Sure there are still music stores but they sell a lot more than music, just like booksstores sell mostly coffee and gifts. And there are still CD's but mostly they're about giving the fan more than just the music - you get a box set with special liner notes and an extra song etc... books will go that route too.

I think Amazon has made enough money in the last whle to hire some serious talent - and I wouldn't be suprised to hear more editors getting poached by the Amazon publishing side of things...

I feel like every nationals we say "oh man, this one is going to be crazy..." there's always something, but this is big. I wish had some rights back on those duets it would be fun to put them out and just see what happens....

Eileen said...

Soooo interesting! One of my b-day presents was a Nook. I hadn't wanted a Kindle because you can't check out library books with one (although that's apparently going to change soon). Still it's amazing. I took 4 books plus my WIP to San Diego with me and it weighed just a few ounces.

As to separating the wheat from the chaff . . . well, I think it's happening. Cruising through some of the reader comments on various publications makes it pretty clear what you're dealing with. One reader suggested that one author had his manuscript edited by his dog.

Eileen said...

And if you guys had TOLD me it was going to be e-publishing theme week, I would have totally blogged about my new Nook.

Stephanie Doyle said...

No theme planned...just a topic that is sweeping the writing nation. (Although I feel like I'm already a year behind the curve.)

I posted my blog in advance - saw Maureen's title and laughed!

And wait unil you see Eileen... You're somewhere at lunch, or at the hairdresser's, maybe just at the dentist. Whatever. You finish your last book and want something to read and... magic. Press a button, press another buttom and bamm you're reading again.

It's a beautiful beautiful thing...

Eileen said...

I'm already pretty jazzed. Apparently it will take audiobooks, too. I haven't tried that yet, but I will soon. I'm guessing I'm going to be buying more books than usual, too. I really hesitate to buy print books anymore because we're out of shelf space. It's just not an issue with this! Well, at least not for a while . . .

Maureen McGowan said...

Molly said: "And there are still CD's but mostly they're about giving the fan more than just the music - you get a box set with special liner notes and an extra song etc... books will go that route too."

I think that's what Eisler has been saying, too. That the hardcover editions will be like special editions for super-fans or a marketing tool.

It's all interesting, that's for sure.

Eileen said...

Great. Bonus material for the print books. One more way I have to figure out how to market myself. Blecchh. I should write that short story that Steph wants about what happens between Norah and Alex behind closed doors.

Stephanie Doyle said...

EXACTLY!!!! You write their story from their POV. You probably played it out all in your head. The midnight visits. The left flowers.

Follow that with a rocking sex scene - put in online for 2.99 and watch the money roll in. I'm surprised your publishers hasn't already suggested it.

I know another author who did a first person POV story and did the same thing by giving hero pov clips.

Eileen said...

OMG. Steph. You are brilliant.

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