It is true that it seems like there are more writers than readers out there, and the few readers one can find are also writers. That would indicate a rather limited clique.
But several recent reports like this one in Publisher’s Weekly show that print books sales are actually rising, even while eBook sales are slightly dropping, in contrast to earlier trends, which I originally reported on in this previous post.
No worries, anxious authors. The news from the front is still good. We're all still winning. The see-sawing sales for each format winds up leveling out the overall business playing field, not taking any off the field.
And ironically, it’s actually only major publishers that are complaining about the recent decline in their eBooks sales. Indie authors continue to benefit from the DIY self-publishing platform, thought controversy still rages with accusations of unfair practices and amateurish products flooding the marketplace, reducing its stock overall.
But even critics acknowledge the revolution has forever changed the industry, and there’s no turning back. Part of the rift is due to the fact the traditional gatekeepers, from publishers to critics, are quickly losing their power over the marketplace. Studies show most shoppers rely more on readers’ reviews than professional critiques when deciding which book to purchase. That is why I can’t stress their significance enough.
Of course, the more people you have on your side promoting your book, the better your sales will be, which is why most authors prefer the conventional approach to publishing.
Rags to Riches
Author Joe Clifford’s latest entry in his successful Jay Porter series, December Boys, just hit #1 on Amazon’s noir fiction list. That’s due not only to the exhaustive efforts by his agent, Elizabeth Kracht, and his publisher, Oceanview, but to his own relentless self-promotion on his website and social media platforms, and to the massive fan base that shares his posts and leave comments on the product page. It’s always a group effort, whether you’re self-published or not.
Joe started out an as indie author, and scored a major hit with his masterpiece, Junkie Love, inspired by his own experiences on the streets of San Francisco a wayward youth. That background still informs his work. Sometimes life itself is the best source of inspiration, though he also earned a MBA in Creative Writing, part of his recovery process. You can never get enough education as a writer.
And as an experienced self-promoter, he also offers eBooks for sale at .99 a pop during these promotional campaigns. That certainly doesn’t hurt drive him up the charts. And it proves that the cheaper digital format is still a viable option when engaged in mass audience outreach.
I envy that extensive network, though I have a substantial following of my own, if not quite as eclectic and empowering. But then I choose to publish as an independent, and as with any decision, the cons go with the pros.
In my case, my print sales actually outnumber my eBook sales. I credit the great covers by awesome artists for this fact (one benefit of my self-designated creative freedom as an indie). But that also follows the current trend.
Still, it helps that my books are available in several formats, on several platforms, since I publish via CreateSpace, as do the several small presses that publish my work, since it offers a variety of cost-effective publishing and distribution choices for budget-conscious entrepreneurs.
Most indie authors and small presses also go through Amazon, though that is only contributing to its evil reputation with bookstores, most of which refuse to stock anything published via that platform.
Like I said, you take the cons with the pros. No option is completely angst-free. That’s how the industry works now. That’s how life works, in fact. You have to do your own research, figure out your own motivation and agenda, and then rely on your own judgment. There is no “wrong choice” when it comes to making this decision. What is right for you may not be right for others.
But whatever you do, publishing your book in multiple formats, including audiobooks, is definitely the smart choice, from a strictly commercial point of view, for any author.
With all the other great authors making all that noise out there, you need to maximize your exposure as much as possible. That’s why you should never shy away from tooting your own horn. If you’re lucky, like Joe Clifford, you’ll wind up leading a supportive marching band down your road to success.
Just like music lovers of all stripes download MP3s but also collect vinyl, whether it’s out of a sense of nostalgia or purity or whatever, book lovers now have all sorts of choices when browsing for their next reading excursion. And the results of that expansion are beginning to pay off.
I’m personally heartened by the fact print book sales both online and in brick and mortar stores are still thriving in this digital era. As long as people are still reading, I’ll keep writing. Well, I’ll never stop writing, because I’m a writer, and that’s what writers do.
But it’s nice to know that if you actually publish your work, in both formats, there remains a chance they will actually be purchased and read, as opposed to sling-shotting your pipe dreams into an echo chamber.
Readers have so many books to choose from, but it seems we writers have a fair number of readers to target as well.
That’s how it should be. We're all on the same side, after all. Might as well work in concert with a common goal: the perpetuated literacy of society.