Hello everyone! Welcome to the first week of this brand new feature! Confident Reads is a way to open communication between readers and indie authors. Several weeks ago I did a guest post at Pages of Forbidden Love about Self-Published vs. Major Publishing houses (you can find it HERE). At the time I had read a bit about self publishing/indie publishing and had quite a lot to say about everything from a readers perspective. The comments that were left (especially by fantastic indie authors) really got me even more interested in the subject. Since then I have read a bit more and studied more about it. I've also noticed that readers have very strong opinions about what they want/need in a book. Confident Reads is to help readers feel confident in the books they spend their money on, and for authors to feel confident in the book they publish. You can find this feature each week (Wednesdays except in September when it will be Tuesdays) discussing a different subject regarding indie books and authors.
To start the feature off I have invited Jeff Bennington, author of The Indie Authors Guide to the Universe (review below), Twisted Vengeance, Reunion and Creepy to the blog to help us understand the difference in self publishing, indie publishing, trade publishing, etc. There are so many terms out there, so what do we use for what? Let's welcome Jeff to the blog!
State of Publishing
In the year 1450 a German blacksmith named Johannes Gutenburg revolutionized the publishing industry. He wasn’t a prolific writer. He wasn’t a well-known scribe. And he never penned a lasting literary work. He was just an average guy, who happened to be a mechanical genius. Although his past is somewhat mysterious, he changed everything about how books were published and reproduced.
Since that time, there have been other printing revolutions, often marked with controversy, excommunications and even death. Today, we’re experiencing another publishing upheaval. Once again technology has caught up with the times and is changing the way books are published, and who gets published. Yet with all the changes in how books are printed, and how we read, I’m surprised no one has been murdered yet!
With that said, the current changes in the way literature is produced is still evolving. In fact, I wouldn’t consider murder beyond the realm possibility where money is concerned, publishing biz or not.
So what’s happening out there in the world of publishing? The answer is complicated, but can be summed up in two distinct phases.
· Phase 1 - Vanity Publishers gave traditional publishing a hard jab to the eye with the onset of print-on-demand (POD) technology, making publishing easier and more affordable to the masses—specifically writers who did not fit into the “trad” publishers business model.
· Phase 2 - Kindles, Nooks, Sony eReaders, smart phones and iPads have changed the way we read—knocking traditional publishers out with a deadly 1-2 punch.
• • •
Technology has practically eliminated the need for traditional publishing in terms of ebook creation and online distribution. Any writer who prefers the 70% royalty that Amazon provides over the measly 8-12% royalty offered by most traditional publishers can easily and cost effectively publish their own work at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo (especially Amazon & Kobo) have honed publishing into a science … the science of publishing ebooks.
With ebooks, there is no physical product to handle. Yet there is still a high value, usually, in terms of what is actually consumed. And the cost is rightfully less compared to print, relative to the traditional publisher’s inflated ebook prices ($9.99+).
With that said, I’d like to clarify a few terms.
Let’s start by detailing who the players are, keeping in mind that these are my definitions, and subject to argument:
Traditional Publishers – The folks who have “traditionally” served as the literary gatekeepers, and determined what will and will not be published for the reading public.
Vanity Publishers – Publishers who primarily make their money by selling publishing services to authors rather than selling direct to booksellers.
Self Publishers – Author’s who use a “pay to publish” service (Vanity), including shared publishing (50/50 split in publishing expenses). Authors who use these are often, but not always, publishing with less control because the publisher frequently charges exorbitant fees for common and simple tasks. Many “self-published” authors fall prey to the marketing hype, and lose control of pricing, and quality because the cost to create a fully professional book is so high. As a consequence, some authors settle for less editing, basic cover art, etc. Again, this is my opinion based on what I see every day on Amazon, and in listening to author complaints.
Indie Publishers – Indie publishers, are writers who take full control of their product from cover design, formatting, marketing, editing, etc. They feel more comfortable with the processes and technical aspects of the game. Indie publishers operate like a small press, doing every task in house or subcontracting to those more qualified. They not only hold the rights to their book, but they do not have to answer to a third party to make changes or upgrade quality. Indie publishers often spend far less money on the production of their books and are not restricted to specific price points, cover designs, etc.
• • •
So who receives the benefit from the publishing revolution? Answer: Readers, Authors, and ebook distributors.
From my experience, the distance between the reader and author is shrinking, making reading a personal experience that actually results in a reader/author relationship that was not previously possible. Lower prices are driving readers out of their comfort zones, trying new talent, and enjoying what they read. What they are discovering is down-to-earth writers who are approachable and available. I see this in my social media experience and in the online presence of many other authors.
So now that the fat is removed, and the middleman eliminated, writers and readers can thrive in a world with a greater variety of literary choices and lower prices. In my opinion, excellent books will rise to the top and those with less quality will sink to the bottom. Unfortunately marketing will still play a part in who is visible and who is not, and that is a shame because there are a lot of good indie/self-pubbed authors who do not enjoy marketing. Still, the authors who look at their writing as a lifetime commitment will grow their audience and continue to attract fans, while those who are not in it for the love of the craft will fall away, frustrated and weary from the work required.
I believe publishers will continue to be the predominant force in print and big name authors. The vast majority of authors, including many previously trad-pubbed authors, will choose to bypass the mainstream publishing route because there is more money to be made and they are more in control of their work—nothing wrong with that.
In a nutshell, the world of books has changed. But who knows what’s around the corner? You never know, one day Amazon could develop something like mind chips, with an auto download into your memory. Sounds far fetched now, but who would’ve ever thought we’d be reading books from a hand held computer? You can even rate and share a Kindle book immediately upon completion, giving the author instantaneous feedback.
These are good times for readers and writers.
As in all things, times change, and change is always hard to accept. Scribes were needed for thousands of years, until Gutenburg came along. Likewise, third party publishers were needed to create and distribute books/ebooks for a season. Today, writers can bring their work directly into the hands of readers with just a few clicks... and with an equal number of clicks, readers can become the new gatekeepers.
Bestselling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and Creepy.
Blog #1: The Writing Bomb
Blog #2: The Kindle Book Review
I'm not looking into publishing my own book just yet, but I've been very curious about it and doing a lot of research about publishing indie. I also work with indie authors a lot and try to read as many of their books as I'm able. Learning more about it all is just me, I like to know the ins and outs. And I think if more readers learn about it they may be more open minded to read it. I'm also trying to help open communication so everyone on both sides (readers and authors) know what the other wants and needs.
That being said, this probably isn't the first book I would recommend to readers who don't write. There are books that compare traditional publishing and Indie publishing a bit more and in a way that readers that aren't writers will understand more. But this is an absolute must read for every Indie author out there. They need to know how important the cover is to us readers. They need to know how much they NEED to hire an editor if they want people to buy their books. And on top of that this helps with learning how to do a blog tour, get review copies out, etc. It tells you where to go to get printed books and the good and bad from each company (per Jeff's experience). Some know most of this already, but it's not going to hurt them to read it anyway cause I guarantee that you'll learn SOMETHING from this book.
This is also a bit lighter reading compared to many 'how-to' books out there. I would suggest this for if you are thinking of indie publishing as a starting point because it's not as overwhelming as others. It also has some very motivating and encouraging words for those who are indie publishing.
I give this one a firm 5 stars because it's well written and very informative. And I don't usually comment on covers, but I think this one is pretty great. It's eye catching but simple and it looks very professional.
Disclosure: I purchased this book myself and was not paid or compensated in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
For the comments, do you agree with Jeff's explanation and descriptions? Do you have any questions? Please let us know! (Author feedback is also welcome.)
For next week:
We are going to discuss covers. What we want/need in a cover as a reader.
I would like some feedback regarding this. Please fill out the form and let us know your thoughts. You may be anonymous, or you can share who you are, your choice. These thoughts will be shared on the blog next week (if there is a lot of feedback I may not be able to share them all).
For the authors, do you want to know what readers think of your cover? Fill out the form and link to your cover. I will put it up next week along with a form so readers can anonymously share their thoughts. The thoughts will not be posted for anyone to see and I will email you with an invite to view the google form.