On writing

Category: On Writing Comments: 5 comments

So I am trying this blogging thing again. And since I am a writer, I might as well start with writing about … writing.

Right now it seems, that there is a bit of a revolution going on in the US publishing industry. Just a few facts:

  • Borders just filed for Chapter 11
  • Amazon sold more Ebooks than Paperbacks in Q4 of 2010
  • more and more authors are going into self publishing

If you believe the likes of JA Konrath, it won’t be long before the big 6 publishing houses in New York will go belly up or at least see a dramatic change in their business model. It is probably akin to the music industry 10 years ago, what with that whole napster / mp3 debacle.

Indie authors are making money hand over fist right now self publishing through Amazon, CreateSpace, SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and other outlets. At least some of them are. Konrath it one of them. Selling his books as ebooks, he is making $30k or more each month … I’d love for that kind of money to flow my way because of my writing. Read his blog, it contains a boatload of information about self publishing and he has a ton of other authors guest posting on it, telling of their own success stories. Reading him you might think it won’t take long before Random House or Simon & Shuster or any other of the big 6 will close their business. Even if his predictions don’t come all true, the revolution is on …

So right now it looks like there is another massive gold rush going on, because ebooks sales and ebook reader sales have really taken off in late 2010. Amanda Hocking for instance is the shooting star of the indie author scene right now, having sold hundreds of thousands of ebooks in January alone. It is similar to the first dot com hype in the late 90s. Question now is, will this ebook hype burst in the same spectactular fashion as the dot coms in 2001? Or is this really just the beginning of a longer revolution, away from traditional publishing? Are people’s reading habits really gonna change that dramatic that bookstores around the country will close by the hundreds? We will see … Zoe Winters, another indie author having success in the ebook field right now, tells everyone “Slow Down, The Tortoise Won” .. yes, it looks like a gold rush now, but it won’t crash anytime soon. So there is no need to get your backlist out as fast as possible, because it won’t be long before it all comes to a halt again.

Right now Amazon is paying 70% of the list price as royalties. No one knows how the royalty structure will be 6 month from now or even a year from now, especially when (not if) the big 6 in New York wise up to the new direction and start moving into the field in force.

I have discovered this whole issue a couple of weeks back. And since I am an author myself I keep wondering if I should just bang out that novel I have in my head and publish it as fast as I can to participate in the gold rush and stake my claim so to speak. Few problems with that though … I am not a US citizen, so publishing on Amazon is not that easy / nigh impossible for me and SmashWords has not that kind of market share. English is my second language … so am I good enough to do this? Going the self publishing route also means you have to do all the leg work in terms of editing, production (converting it to the various ebook formats), distributing it to the various outlets and most importantly getting the word out to the readers. I can’t see myself succeeding in all that with living on the other side of the world. I can’t wait until Amazon opens their Kindle Store in Germany and also expands their publishing platform. Reports have Amazon doing that in Spring of 2011 … so it’s possible the launch is only a few weeks away. But I think they are still in negotiations with German publishing houses for the content for the Kindle Store.

No matter what happens … I need to write more, so that if that revolution comes over to Europe I am prepared to put some stuff out there.

Which I am off to now … writing more that is.

5 comments to On writing

  • zoewinters  says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout out. The point isn’t really that it “won’t crash”. It probably will. I see this as very much like the dot com bubble bursting. But the problem with a gold rush where there isn’t “literal gold” is that it’s stupid to just rush and rush to meet an opportunity if your stuff isn’t ready for prime time. Because putting out crap or throwing together a sloppy business plan built on sand is not sane business. Most of the dot coms failed because they had stupid business plans that didn’t make sense and they were all just rushing stuff out trying to “get in now and get rich quick while the opportunity is still here”. But that’s SO silly.

    The thing I was trying to point out is… we are “post dot come bubble burst”. And yet… the market stabilized and people started Internet businesses “the right way”, with a normal business plan and actual business sense and strategy and slow and steady and all that happy stuff, and those are the types of businesses that succeed over the long haul. No matter what the overall market is doing.

    Someone mentioned I think on my blog about the housing bubble bursting and how the realtors who have survived and even continued to thrive are the BEST realtors. the goal should always be to “be the best”, not rush to take advantage of a temporary big opportunity. IMO. But people have this illustrated to them over and over with things like the internet bubble bursting and the housing bubble bursting, but they still don’t learn. Slow and steady and SMART wins the race. Not… OMG do it all NOW while the gold is still there. People are like lemmings.

    Get rich quick never works. It doesn’t matter what the ‘opportunity’ is or isn’t. If you’ve got a great product (in this case books) and you work hard and you market it and get it out there, EVENTUALLY you will build a fan base. There is no rush/race to be at the top right now. Because many who are benefiting from this gold rush now are going to crash later… why? because as the market stabilizes, readers are going to expect higher quality for their money. The novelty will wear off and it won’t be good enough to just read on one of these wacky, new-fangled devices… but people are going to be more judicious with what they buy.

    When THAT time comes, most of those who have rushed a lot of sloppy work out there are not going to be sitting pretty. Granted, some people can work very fast and the quality not suffer, but we all know a lot of people are rushing ebooks out to market before they are ready. Those are the people who are like the people who failed in the dotcom burst.

    The smartest thing is to build a solid foundation for your business so your business can keep going when the boom turns to burst. Because it will. Nothing shoots up indefinitely.

  • […] Here is the full post. […]

  • asrais  says:

    As for publishing outside of the US, whether you go thorugh Amazon, Smashwords or wherever to get paid you need to get a US tax ID number, which is a HUGE pain in the ass to do. I haven’t made enough money to make it worth my effort. Yet

  • Frank R. McBride  says:

    Thanks for the tip. I did a little research and yeah … it is doable, but looks like a royal pain in the ass.

    Well, by the time I am actually ready to publish I hope Amazon has opened a Kindle Store and a Direct Publishing Platform over here as well, so I don’t have the hassle and can just publish through amazon.de.

    Then again, it probably won’t solve this issue if I plan to make my work available in the US as well, even through Amazon.de 🙁

  • […] the comments of this blog post Zoe Winters says: it’s stupid to just rush and rush to meet an opportunity if your stuff isn’t […]

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