The Future of Publishing
Part 2: Predicitons #3 and #4
The world of publishing is currently going through massive turmoil. Some people believe that the rise of e-books is going to be the biggest single change in publishing since Gutenberg's invention of movable type.
I'm not a prophet nor a seer nor clairvoyant. But I do have my eyes open, and in this column, I give you my best predictions for the coming years. They may be right. They may be wrong. Either way, one thing seems certain: Huge changes are coming.
I offer these predictions to suggest ways you might plan for your future. I'm using them to plan for mine.
Prediction #3: Beginning Authors Will E-publish First
Beginning writers will e-publish their work long before they p-publish it. They will do so because all the other beginning writers are doing so. Nobody wants to get left behind. Everybody wants to be discovered. Everybody believes they are writing a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
Some writers are.
Yes, really. Some writers are exceptionally good. Those writers will get discovered far quicker than they would have in years past. They'll earn money at their writing. They'll blog about their successes, making it clear that their road to success led through e-books.
Many other writers will follow and soon the majority of unpublished writers will be publishing their work first as e-books.
The result of this is that agents and editors will buy fewer and fewer unpublished novelists. Instead, they'll simply watch the e-market to see what sells. Then they'll acquire the p-book rights for those e-books that are proven successful.
This is the smart thing for them to do. Publishers have long joked that "The way to be profitable in this business is to only publish the bestsellers." In the past, nobody had any idea how to predict the bestsellers. In the coming e-future, it will be obvious. Successful e-books will make successful p-books.
I believe publishers will eventually refuse to take chances on any unpublished writers. Those writers will therefore be forced to publish themselves first as e-books, whether they want to or not. This transition will take time, but I expect that within five years, the overwhelming majority of all first novels will be published first as e-books.
Prediction #4: Mid-list Authors May Do Better
Mid-list authors have had a rough go during the last few years. Publishers have been chafed by shrinking profit margins. They've been willing to pay big bucks to the sure-thing bestselling authors. They've been willing to pay peanuts to new novelists in the hope of
finding gold and raking in huge bucks. But they've been less willing to keep paying the mid-listers to write book after book that just earns out its advance (or doesn't quite earn out but does still make a small profit).
In the coming e-future, mid-list authors will try their hand at e-books and discover that their fans love them in e-format just as much as in p-format. Mid-listers will decide that self-publishing an e-book for 70% of the pie is better than working with a traditional
publisher for 7% of the pie.
This is rational behavior. Those mid-list authors who can market themselves at least 10% as effectively as their publishers would market them will decide to do so. They'll e-publish their own work and market it themselves, no longer subject to the whims of their publishers.
Some mid-listers will flourish in this e-culture. They'll connect to their fan base and grow it. And the publishers will notice. The publishers are both smart and rational. They'll see which mid-list novels do best as e-books and will bankroll them as p-books. Some mid-listers will refuse this route. I believe they'll do less well as time goes on. They'll find their publishers increasingly fearful of publishing their work and increasingly stingy with advances.
In this world, publishers will finally achieve their goal -- they'll only publish the winners.
This may take longer than five years to sort out, since mid-list authors appear at first glance to have the most to lose. It will take them some time to see that they can do well in an e-future. I believe they'll see it eventually, and the sooner they see it, the better
About the Author:
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 21,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
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Look for the rest of Randy's predicitons in up-coming articles.