Posted by Bob Mayer
More and more established authors are walking away from traditional publishing and doing it on their own. Count me in those ranks. On 12 April, my epic novel, Duty, Honor, Country, a Novel of West Point & The Civil War will come out in ebook and in trade paperback by the end of the month.
There are many reasons I’m doing this, and I’m sure most of you have seen numerous blogs and articles enumerating them, but here’s the thing many aren’t talking about: In publishing, especially for authors, you can’t think about where things stand now. You have to think about where things will stand a year from now. Fortune magazine just had an article with a representative from Barnes and Noble where even they admit the tipping point where more books are electronic than print will be in the next two years. I predicted at the beginning of the year that it will be by the end of this year. With traditional publishers trying to hold on to the 25% e-royalty rate of 70% (which is actually 19%), the math isn’t hard to do when compared against 70%.
It’s a difficult decision to part ways with traditional publishing especially after twenty years and over forty books and relying on my writing for my livelihood. However, the reality is, if you aren’t a ‘brand’ author that the publisher backs, your career is almost guaranteed to be doomed. I believe the days of surviving with multiple midlist titles is coming to an end.
Simply put, publishers have primarily concerned themselves with consigning books to retailers, not selling books to readers. Note the word consign. Bookstores are a consignment business. It used to be a 50% sell-through was considered okay. Now, publishers and retailers want an 80% sell-through. So how is that solved? Order less copies of titles per store from authors who aren’t the mega-bestsellers. This equals higher sell through, but less volume. This spells doom for the mid-list writer. They’re already losing Borders. Barnes & Noble is contracting, dumping any store where they don’t own the physical footprint. And that statement from a B&N rep indicates to me they very much know where the future is going (maybe a reason they’re for sale with no takers?). What’s the first thing you see when you walk in to a B&N now? Used to be the discounted hardcover table for the bestsellers. Now it’s a Nook booth with a sales person pushing it.
One key factor in deciding to bring Duty, Honor, Country out on my own is that the publishing date (12 April) is the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War. I’m seeing deals on PW Daily where books are being contracted today, for publication in 2014. That’s archaic in the digital world.
With with Amanda Hocking success, there seems to a “gold rush” of writers throwing their books up on Amazon and other sites. Succeeding at self-publishing is as hard as succeeding in traditional publishing, the difference is, more of the control is with the writer rather than the vagaries of others.
The same traits for success are required in both areas: well-written books, author platform, author promotion, and most of all, perseverance.
About Bob MayerBob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.
Posted on March 27, 2011, in Publishing Options and tagged Amanda Hocking, author, Barnes & Noble, Bob Mayer, Book, Book Writing, books, E-book, eBook, eBooks, ePublishing, Nook, Promotion, Publishing, Self-Publishing, Technology and Publishing, The Future of Publishing, Times Roman, United States Military Academy, writer, Writer Resources, Writers Resources, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.