New Renaissance

I recently got to chasing some reports on independent publishing. (See, for example, This and That.) The data surprised me, and while you’re not getting everything I’ve got some snippets I think several on this list will find interesting.

BLUF: there is a burgeoning renaissance in authorship. I’ve no idea how it’ll explode into the open or what’ll happen when it does, but it’s going to happen.

Simple: Publishers are fighting a rear-guard action trying to keep terrain they’re going to lose as long as they can. How do I know this?

60% of Amazon’s top 200 SF e-book sales were “independently published”. 50% of fantasy e-books were the same. Ebook sales exceeded [hardcover — ks] print sales in both genres about a year ago (again, just using Amazon’s numbers and reports.)

By the way. Amazon pays authors 70% royalties on books priced at $2.99 or higher (net delivery costs, taxes, bad debt, refunds). It pays 60 days after close of month.

Those of you who have dealt with the publishing industry can compare. Those of you who haven’t, that’s better than you get with most publishers. And if it’s only 100 sales at $2.99, it’s still a couple hundred bucks in the pocket and no “go away you aren’t good enough.”

While there are several prolific and well-known authors venturing into this area of publishing, it’s that last sentence above that drives my thinking.

It’s the so-called long tail in action. If you can “only” sell a few hundred issues of each book you write, you can still write and get paid for it. Niches are no longer controlled by a few gate-keepers who, however talented at guessing what others will like, still have to guess and so dictate what will and will not be available.

As a spinoff, the various extras publishing houses do (editing, cover design, and maybe marketing/promotion) are showing up as independent offers as well. Among the indi publishing authors, the general recommendation is if they’re asking a percentage ignore them: pay flat rate or do it yourself. Oh, and beware of scams (who usually want percentages).

I suspect we’ll see the same thing in audio (music and such) and video in the not too distant future. Video in particular takes a group for the most part and so is going to be more expensive. And we don’t yet have a house that acts the same way as Amazon for videos or audios, where “independents” can put their works up for sale.

Actually that last is not true. It’s just that those houses aren’t dominant. If’n I had a contact at Hulu or Netflix…

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