For those of you who missed Monday’s blog, I’m running a 4-book urban fantasy giveaway through the end of this week. See the post here and enter to win!
Today I’m talking about something on a lot of people’s minds: Borders and what the bankruptcy means for the future of books.
This past Friday I attended a webinar put on by Writer’s Digest University entitled “The Borders Dilemma: What the New World Order of Bookselling Means for Writers”. Needless to say, this was a great, well-timed seminar. So what did I learn?
Some of the foreseeable consequences of the shrinking bookseller market:
- Borders is still buying (or trying to buy) books, but not all publishers are shipping to them. So the number of physical books sold is going down.
- The overall number of bookstores will be shrinking, which means print runs will shrink. Therefore there well be less overall royalties and lower advances.
- Purchasing committees will be that much more difficult. Publishers will be focused on the following questions: How marketable is the author? Do they already have an audience?
- Establishing online presence is more important now than ever, since marketability is a part of the publisher’s decision in whether or not to purchase the book. This is especially so with non-fiction authors who are pretty much required to have a platform nowadays.
- Published authors will now, more than ever, need to work with their publisher’s marketing department to come up with a solid marketing plan.
- E-books should make up some of the revenue lost with the decrease in print books.
- It will be harder for new or lower-list authors to sell books, since publishers can’t afford to take as much of a chance on them as they used to.
Given the tight market, what can new or aspiring authors do?
- E-books are increasing in popularity. Sales of e-books are climbing drastically. If you’ve been holding off for that NY contract, you might wish to at least consider an e-publisher.
- Big-six publishers are currently only giving 25% royalty rates for e-books versus the 40% rate (give or take a few) that e-publishers give. While this is not such a huge deal now that most of the books sold are still in print, people foresee the tide turning. Many think that within just a few years more e-books will be sold than print. Authors need to start considering whether indefinitely giving away rights to a book at only 25% royalty (almost half of e-pubs) is worth it.
- Self-publishing might be a good option for you, especially if you can generate a lot of interest in your book. Publishers are starting to look at more self-published books as possibilities for traditional publishing deals.
- Become a self-promoter. Get involved in social media. It’s pretty much a necessity given this landscape.
- Realize that what it means to be an author is changing. If you want to have staying power, you must be prepared to change too.
So what do you think? Is any of this news surprising? Depressing, or perhaps exciting? Have your ideas about the publishing industry or your career changed over the last few months?
Like many writers, I have a dream of becoming a print-published author with a big NY publisher. I can’t say that the dream has died, but I’m trying to take into consideration the drastically changing landscape. With the advent of the NYT Bestseller List for e-books and all the advances in technology, digital sales will only continue to rise.