220px-Spinal_Tap_-_Up_to_ElevenWhile many are focusing on publishers and bookstores and other aspects, the producers of the content are the second most important component of the business, with readers being #1. The key is how the changes in publishing affect the author and how the author needs to factor reality into their business plan (regardless of how they feel about it):

  1. Amazon will expand its Print-On-Demand capability with kiosks in colleges, airports, malls and other locations.
  2. We’ve blogged about the issue of Barnes & Noble; any author who isn’t factoring in their business plan the possibility of B&N going the way of Borders, doesn’t have a business plan. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but hope is not a business plan.
  3. The eBook market is still growing. Print is fine for bestsellers, but for the midlist, there will be less and less rack space. We see numerous predictions that print sales will continue to grow and that eBook sales are flat or diminishing. This may be true for the Big 5, but overall, it’s wrong. Indie authors will continue to chomp away at the market share of the Big 5. And we’ve seen a lot of wishful thinking in the publishing world that isn’t reality. But, hey, don’t you still watch Betamax? But VHS won that, and now you watch on that? But then cable. But now streaming. And then? But many in publishing are saying we’re going back to VHS. Same with music going digital, even though most people don’t know that good old vinyl actually produces a better sound!
  4. The rapid ups and downs on digital bestseller lists will continue with Bookbub, first-in-series free, pricing specials, etc. Perusing a top 100 genre list on Amazon reveals about 20% of the names are there consistently. The rest churn quickly. This churning leads to:
  5. The midlist will continue to suffer, particularly the traditionally published midlist. Many established mid-listers who ignored the rise of the indie and hybrid author and stuck to their publishers will rue that decision as print runs shrink and their eBook royalties remain at low rates and they will never see their backlist rights reverted.
  6. Venturing into linking books with non-book markets. As Jack Canfield expanded his Chicken Soup books into markets that previously did not rack books, eBooks will be sold through non-traditional venues. This is something we are actively pursuing at Cool Gus, with some intriguing possibilities in 2016 that we’re very excited about.
  7. Pre-orders will be key to an indie/hybrid author’s success. So much so that Bob’s business plan for 2016 is based on having the pre-order for his next book in the current book, with six titles coming out.
  8. For a previously unpublished writer, we recommend trying to go the traditional route of publishing (agents, trad publishing house). This might be blasphemy among indie ranks, but the number of successful indie author without having a traditional backlist is tiny, tiny, tiny. Unless a new author has a unique angle, extensive marketing skills, or is related to Oprah, a traditional publisher offers a better shot. That said, the odds of success that way are as tiny, tiny, tiny, too. But it’s actually less work than writing the book and learning how to be a publisher from zero experience.
  9. More bestselling traditionally published authors will dip their toes into hybrid waters. They can’t talk about it in public, but it’s on their minds. Many are uncertain because it’s a territory they’re not familiar with. Having been on both sides, we understand those concerns and have designed Cool Gus for exactly that scenario.
  10. More start-ups trying to sell boiler plate services to indie authors and trad authors trying to go hybrid, and even more failing. Some like Reedsy have a good business model. As does Audible ACX; but overall, anyone trying to go hybrid has to realize there is a reason publishers exist and have so many departments.
  11. This means there will be a focus on what we call the Author-Centric-Team. Where people experienced on both sides, traditional and indie, will offer exclusive, on-going services and expertise to a limited number of authors; while allowing the author complete creative control and final say on all business matters. These bestselling authors will do this primarily for the creative freedom, but also for higher eBook royalty rates and control of their own business. Most importantly, they will do it in order to retain their rights to their own work—the most significant business decision an author has to make. The hugely successful handful of musicians learned this the hard way: you have to own the “masters” of your work. It’s your legacy. No matter how big a name you are, unless you’re Shakespeare, your legacy won’t last long once you stop production, unless you, and your family, own the rights.

IMG_2263While there are many challenges ahead in 2016, we’re very excited at Cool Gus to take them on. Doesn’t he look excited?