Authors may soon have all the power. The Authors Collection.
September 21, 2014
I READ A BLOG by James Scott Bell recently. Mr. Bell is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than fifty books. In the blog, he discussed the sad state of affairs for the midlist author at traditional publishing houses. And some of what he said had to do with authors who were definitely not midlist.
He shared part of a post by Eileen Goudge in which she said it didn’t matter if your previous titles sold a combined six million copies. (Her books had.) If your last title didn’t sell well, you began a downward cycle. Your next book got far less promotion and as a result, it didn’t sell as well. Often it was the result of something you had no control over. Perhaps an editor or someone else at the house who championed you died or left the business. You became an “orphan” at the house and your book didn’t get any attention. And soon, you were perceived as a failure because your book didn’t sell better than your previous ones. Your sales were flat.
Ms. Goudge joined the indies. And, she says, it has given her something missing for some time: hope. She’s writing again, and while a bit nervous about the indie scene, she feels excited and eager to write again.
Mr. Bell’s post talks about another writer with twenty years of publishing at the traditional houses. She became sufficiently discouraged with the process that she is giving up writing.
Even Mr. Bell has begun to publish some of his own books. With fifty plus books behind him, many blockbuster hits with major houses, he still sees the wisdom in publishing some of his books independently.
The publishing industry is in such a state of flux. Digital books, Internet selling, instant delivery, and a maturing younger generation that is more at home on-line and with digital devices – these combine to support independent authors. Traditional publishers have been slow to recognize the impact of these. Meanwhile, Amazon and other on-line companies are grabbing market share. And now they are attracting the bigger names.
The next great writers will probably start down the indie scene. And when they become top sellers, will they choose to move to the traditional houses? Maybe. Maybe not. As indies, they have control. They have a better share of the revenue. They have the readers. Do they need the major houses?
This is a tricky time for traditional publishers. The major force in the book industry of the future may be authors.
That’s not a bad idea.
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