rhienelleth: (Default)
 I read a pretty intriguing blog post today, from a pretty successful indie author, regarding the midlist. For those who don't know, the midlist used to be this kind of sweet spot, where authors could sell moderately well, enough to make a living without having to be in the top 1% (i.e., bestselling). It was where the mass market paperback lived, the place where someone browsing through a rack at the airport or wherever could pick up a book for $6.99 that sounded interesting. The rise of the ebook reader and massive changes across the publishing world due to people reading more on their phones/tablets/e-readers/et al sang the death knell of the midlist. People saw it coming for years, and eventually, it happened. 

Now, the mass market paperback is pretty much no more. The midlist is no more. They have something called "digital first" these days, where a first time author often will be published first in digital only format, and then if that sells well enough, an actual paper book will be printed. But that has not resurrected the midlist, or so say many of the industry blogs I read.

Today, I read a post by an indie (self published) author, regarding the numbers she and another pretty successful indie author have regarding money and the sale of their books. Basically, she theorizes that indie authors are the new midlist, and that even a non-bestselling, but just good, middle number selling indie author can make a living. Her friend, who was the focus of the article, grossed $500,000 over the past three years on her indie books, of which she has published 12 novels, 3 boxed sets, 2 novellas, and a short story.

It certainly isn't the norm among indie authors to make that much, but it is interesting that they can, without even being considered a "bestseller". 

I am certainly not saying I am going indie instead of the traditional NYC publishing route, but it is food for thought. In order to be that successful, one has to have several books one can market and publish, be able to successfully market them, etc, etc. It isn't without its downsides. 

Aaaand I'm sure this isn't very interesting for about 90% of then 10 or so people still around reading this journal, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to post about it and just kind of think about it. 
rhienelleth: (thornton look back - shayrena)
 There is a new trend in publishing, for ebooks: delaying the ebook release date.

Okay, I can kind of see  doing that for hardcovers.  Amazon offers the kindle price at 9.99 instead of the hardcover price.  This has, as far as I understand it, pushed publishers in this direction of delaying the release of the ebook version.

Case in point: Kim Harrison's newest, Black Magic Sanction, released at the end of February.  The Kindle book now has a listed release date for April!  Okay, this made me angry when it happened, largely because the publisher first listed the ebook release date as the same in February, and only once the hardcover released did they post the NEW pushed back April date for the ebook.  It's like they're promising one thing, and then snatching it back and saying "not yet!"

Not a good way to win readers, Harper Collins.  I know you're all excited and happy about this.  I know you think it makes perfect sense.  Hardcover, ebook, then mass market paperbook.  Different formats get different release dates.  Okay.  Then be clear what the delay is.  It's different for every book so far.  You don't announce the actual date until after everyone is expecting it to release with the hardcover.  These tactics are not going to drive people to go out and purchase the hardcover.  Go read the amazon forums.  People are angry, and they're refusing to buy the hardcover instead because of that.  

Some are going to the library.

And some, I fear, will end up downloading an illegal ebook version so they can go ahead and read it on their ebook reader.  Wow, that's just great, isn't it?  Encouraging illegal downloads is exactly what you were aiming for, I'm certain. (sarcasm)

As if the hardcover weren't bad enough, it's worse when the expected book is releasing in mass market paperback.  So, if the publisher's stated schedule is supposed to be "hardcover, ebook, paperback", why would a paperback book not have the ebook version released on the same day?  Why, for goodness sake, would the publisher list the ebook for the same day, then when that day came, instead of releasing it, announce it for a week later, and then when the next week came, delay it again for another week?  This is happening right now with a book I was waiting for on March 2nd.  The paperback released, but the ebook was pushed back to March 9th.  And this morning when I went to finally order it?  Delayed again, with a current listed pub date of March 16th.  

Unlike the hardcover price vs. the ebook price, the paperback and ebook and virtually the same $ amount.  Often they are exactly the same, and in rare instances, I have even seen the ebook priced for more.  Why, if it's the same money, would you not want people spending that money on the ebook?  Why delay, and risk losing them to the library, or worse, illegal downloading?

Again, people are angry.  I feel sorry for the authors, as the average reader doesn't know the author has no control over how or when their work releases.  People wrote Kim Harrison on her website, and she wrote back, apologizing for something she has no control over, clearly feeling bad for the reader, and let's face it, this doesn't help her sales numbers, either.  What about a new author?  People are deciding whether or not to take a chance on something/someone new anyway.  How does giving them more reason to waffle make sense?

Just decide something that makes actual, you know, sense, and then stick with it.  Stop promising people one thing, and then "delaying" the release date.  Stop being inconsistent.

Me, I'll wait for my Kindle version.  I won't go to the library, because I want to support authors.  But as a writer myself, I am not the average reader.  Most people aren't going to wait (and in case I haven't made the point, I am not happy about waiting, either!)

Ideally, of course, I would like to see the ebook release the same day as the hardcover.  I like to review books I've read, hopefully garnering another couple readers for the author.  The longer the delay for me to read and review, the less likely that review is to matter.  Who cares about the review of a book that's already been out for weeks, or months?  

But fine, if publishers have to delay the release, then do so only for hardcover books.  Don't punish people for preferring to spend their money on the ebook instead of a mass market copy.
rhienelleth: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] jackiekessler answers questions people have about the Harlequin bruhaha and everyone's response to it. In case any of those questions might be your questions.

Kudos to the Mystery Writers of America, and the Science Fiction Writers of America for both following in the RWA's footsteps, here. While I'm sure Harlequin is most affected by the RWA's response, the show of solidarity is nice.

I feel bad for all the Harlequin authors out there. What must they be feeling about their publisher right now? Confused, hurt, angry? I'm sure the response of the publishing world is very dismaying as well. The way I see it, RWA and others didn't have a choice.

And no, Harlequin removing their name from the imprint isn't nearly enough. Read Jackie's excellent post if you wonder why.
rhienelleth: (wtfavatar - fearfulwarrior)
I was going to comment on the Harlequin self publishing vanity press bruhaha, but Jackie Kessler says everything I could have/would have, and so much more.

The upshot: money should always flow toward an author for having your work published, not away.
rhienelleth: (ironman look up)
A lot of change is happening in the publishing industry these days. A lot of downsizing, and merging, and, one hears, less books are being bought for fewer positions in publishing lines - the rest of that adage being, quality is getting picked over quantity. I recommended Michael Stackpole's latest Secrets podcast a couple of days ago, and I recommend Nathan Bransford's blog pretty much every day - he talks a lot about the changes in publishing as they happen, and speculates a bit on what's to come.

For instance, today he linked this article in the NY Times about the CEO of Random House stepping down.

What do all of these changes mean for people like me, trying to get published? I don't know, but I'm doing a fairly good job of not freaking out about it, even though part of me wonders how much more difficult that whole "getting published" thing might be, now and in the future. And not just getting that first sale, but continuing to sell after that - but that depends on so much (like sales of that first book) that I won't even speculate right now. A lot of people are saying that getting an agent now is really the way to go - but I've believed that all along, and that's what my efforts have been concentrating on. I guess, at the end of the day, it comes down to this for me:

~ Despite all this talk of 'people aren't reading/buying books' I don't think the book industry as a whole is ever going away - people DO read. Maybe that format will be changing in the future to something more ebook and less paper, I don't know. (Personally, I will ALWAYS want to own my favorites in paper form, and I'm betting a lot of book lovers feel the same. For my non-keepers, a Kindle with ebooks might be the way to go. I'd have to try one first, LOL.) I believe people are reading more now than we ever have before - largely because of the online world. How many of us start each day scrolling through our friends list here on LJ? *raises hand* It's as habitual with me as my morning cup of coffee. That is reading. Fandom and fanfiction is enormous, and growing bigger all the time. Teenagers get involved in fandom, they read/write fanfiction, and guess what? They become more literary because of it, they find they enjoy reading, maybe they even go out and buy books. I wish some of the authors who fight fanfiction would think about that. Not to mention the popularity of YA fiction right now. Sure, some of us reading it are far from YA ourselves, but you can't tell me these books aren't being read by kids/teenagers who will grow up to be book readers, who buy books. The industry might be changing, but I think its place in the entertainment field is secure. There will always be readers.

~ So, if the publishing industry in general is acquiring fewer books, that just means your book has to be better to get picked up. I'm actually okay with this for a couple of reasons. I'm an avid reader, and I read all kinds of books, all sorts of genres - and let me tell you, many is the time when I've bought something by a new author, and been bored or disappointed by lackluster story, characters, or writing. Less of those lukewarm, or 'just okay' books would be fine with me - I'll avoid wasting my money on something I'm not even going to finish. The other reason, though, is from the authorial perspective. Fewer books means more attention the publisher will pay to my book (hopefully) when it gets published. Well, more attention to all the books they're publishing, really, but you get the idea. This is just a guess. I'm not totally familiar with the inner workings of the publishing wheel, but that seems like sound business to me if your business goal is to pursue quality over quantity.

~ Note I'm not wringing my hands and saying "Oh, but this means maybe I won't get published!" Because, quite simply, I just don't believe that. I believe in my writing. I believe in my stories. Yes, I have down days - who doesn't? Especially when you're querying and receiving multiple rejections a day, sometimes. But really, truly, at the end of the day, I know I'm good. My writing, my characters, my stories - maybe it sounds like ego, but I believe it solidly in my heart of hearts. I know there's room for improvement. I know I can make each book better, and I am willing to work hard to do that. But I absolutely don't look at Dark Vision or Nemesis and ever wonder if they're good enough - I know they are. (I just have to find the agent who agrees with me. :)

You have to have faith in yourself, in your words, if you're going to survive in this business. That's been true from day one. These changes we're seeing only make it more true today. For me, this changes nothing. Maybe it makes the road to publication a little steeper, a little longer, but I'm not worried about whether or not I'll eventually get there. I just have to keep walking.

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