First off, let me say that I’m a big fan of Mark Coker for his enthusiasm in helping us independent writers self publish our books.
Mark learned first-hand the difficulties in getting a book traditionally published. He and his wife, Lesleyann, wrote the novel Boob Tube about the soap opera industry, and their agent was unable to find a publisher for it. That led Mark to form Smashwords (in 2008) to help authors publish their books with the hope of connecting with readers. In addition to the publishing platform, Mark wrote The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, which is offered for free as a helpful aid in publishing more professionally.
He also writes for the Smashwords blog, and that’s where I found…
Mark gives us a list of 15 predictions for this year in publishing, and I found this to be a very educational read. Covered here are such topics as: this year will be slow growth for many authors — and not just indies, the effectiveness of free books in gaining readers is lessening, Kindle Unlimited is paying authors less in royalties, more authors will aspire to self publish, and many indie authors will quit publishing (or decrease their production).
As I mentioned yesterday, Kristine Kathryn Rusch discussed many of these points in her post (also fantastic) “Business Musings: Things Indie Writers Learned in 2014.”
Both articles describe an e-book publishing environment that is not exploding in success as it was several years ago, and how the field is a difficult one to break into.
However, both articles also are optimistic about the opportunities that remain for indie authors. Mark lists best practices for authors as the last item in his list. None of them strike me as easy to get rich quick. These are to write a good book and craft it professionally (in cover and editing/proofing) — and be business savvy in releasing it.
This is an article I think is well worth reading.
Now, let’s turn to Mark taking the longer view in…
(This is on Huffington Post’s website, and it was published further back, on March 7, 2014.)
In the title of this article, Mark makes a pretty bold prediction, and he’s basing it off the trends that he’s seeing.
First, where have we been in this split of indie/traditional e-book publishing? The chart in the article presents a trend-line of “Percentage of US ebook market going to indie authors,” which starts at zero in 2008 and rises to 15% in 2013 (Mark’s estimate). The line stretches in a steady path from there, up to 50% in 2020. That assumes there won’t be any spikes or drops, and the line will continue.
The ten reasons Mark gives behind the continued trend are really interesting, and I encourage indie authors to check out the article and give them a read.
I’m not going to list them here, but I’ll touch upon a few of them.
The first reason is “Print will decline as a book-reading format.” As I wrote in a post yesterday, this hasn’t quite happened yet, as print books out-sold e-books in the first half of 2014: paperbacks sold 42% of unit sales, hardcover with 25%, and e-books with 23%. I haven’t found where corresponding percentages are shown for before or after the first half of 2014, so I can’t remark on how that time period fits in a trend.
Mark Coker also discusses the trends of authors and readers becoming more comfortable with e-books, and that will lead to more authors publishing more e-books.
On top of that, indie authors have become more professional, and they’re offering high-quality products:
The innovation taking place today among indie authors is amazing. This innovation and professionalism will continue in the future as indies pioneer and promulgate tomorrow’s best practices. These authors are publishing books that are quality-competitive with traditionally published books, but priced dramatically lower. As a result, these authors have the ability to under-price, outsell and out-compete the ebooks from traditional publishers. It means indie authors will have the ability to serve and please readers more effectively than traditional publishers.
Mark says that, not only can indie authors under-price traditional publishers, but indies can out-earn their traditionally published books: “Indie ebook authors earn royalty rates four to five times higher than they’d earn from traditional publishers.” Self publishing wins on both bottom lines. To me, that’s a strong advantage.
I’m not so sure about decline of printed books anytime soon, but I think Mark has interesting things to say on trends of e-books being embraced more — and about the benefits that self publishers have over the traditional publishers.