Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in 2013, you already know how much the publishing landscape has changed this year.
One of the major themes of this year was the vocalization from many authors about the deep dissatisfaction they experienced when working with traditional publishers. According to a few seasoned writing veterans, there’s a ton of reasons why it makes more and more sense to self-publish your work in the coming year.
Why I didn’t go with a traditional publisher:
Publishers are generalists who cover the gamut of production. They bear the responsibility of a bunch of important and difficult roles — book cover design, layout, editing, distribution. Unfortunately, they have to spread themselves pretty thin because they’re juggling so many different projects. Because of this, they tend to do a decent-but-not-great job at each of their roles. That’s not just my experience; countless authors have complained about this dynamic. Frankly, I’d just rather do things my way and work with the team I’ve built.
And another thing: Publishers AREN’T marketers. They don’t do anything to help sell copies of your book. They just help you produce the book, then get it into physical locations. It’s up to the author to take control of the marketing so the book actually sells.
But what does it all mean for you in 2014?
The Big Six are losing their power as middlemen between self selected writers and their tribe of readers. Where previously it had been hard to build an audience without company backing and a large budget, today all you need is a blog. In fact, you don’t even need a physical book anymore because the ultimate connection isn’t reader and book; it’s reader and writer.
That’s because it’s a human interaction.
The purest form of commerce is personal. An author writes something you enjoy reading. You buy it from that author. Author and reader both benefit. Who needs a corporation? In fact, the corporation kinda sucks when it’s involved because it only pays the writer pennies on the dollar and it marks up the book to profit from the reader. I think we’d all agree that when we cut out this middleman, the transaction feels better.
It’s all about the relationship. Authors want readers who appreciate their work. Readers want to support great authors so they keep writing great stuff. No one wants to produce or read mass marketed crap. Why else do you think marketplaces like Etsy and Kickstarter are so popular?
We now have the technology for appreciative readers to reward writers directly, no brick and mortar or virtual mega-store needed. Not only that, the writer and the reader can have a satisfying conversation. What was the last satisfying conversation you’ve had with a corporation?
2014 is the year of deeper relationships and niche markets.
I don’t mean to imply that the Big Six are going anywhere and self-publishing will take over – that’s not the point. Books like Steve Jobs biography have a large enough demand to make margins work for a big-publishing.
The key takeaway is this: you don’t need mass market demand to be successful because you don’t need big-publishers. You can fill a different kind of need. A need for long tail books like The Top 25 Recipes for Biohacking Your Sex Drive. There’s big enough market for the author of that book to make a living. It just means that the author has to find his tribe and speak directly to them. Then offer them something of value at a fair price.
Use this to your advantage and start building your audience now.