Authors Struggling in a Changing Publishing World

There’s one thing that everyone agrees about, which is that publishing is changing–some say for the better, some say for the worse. Most things we hear are from the perspective of publishers. And lots of the statistics we hear are hotly debated depending on who you hear them from.

Some say ebooks were a fad, others say print will disappear. Some say ebook sales are up, while others say they’re down.

Some say traditional publishing is king–others say indie publishing will eventually take over.

The new wave of indie authors who’ve become publishers, taking publishing into their own hands, are excited. And why not? They can publish an ebook that appears just a professional as a traditionally published ebook on a shoestring budget, depending on what they’re unable to do themselves so contract out.

That leaves one group who’ve said very little in this revolution–traditional authors. Admittedly, everything points to hybrid authors who have one foot in each world, traditional and digital, coming out on top of the earnings pile.


…a survey by Digital Book World found that hybrid authors earn the most money, with a median income between $7,500 and $9,999 a year, followed by traditionally published authors ($3,000–$4,999), and indie authors ($500–$999). The assumption that authors only use self-publishing until they can secure a traditional deal bears out less and less.

Read the whole article at: Publishers Weekly


And the hybrids who are soaring to the top are generally on top of their own marketing game with a Web presence and social media connections.


But what about the others? Those authors who came up through the ranks of traditional publishing with publishers and acquisitions editors and in-house editors and graphic designers and marketing departments, to name just a little of what the traditional publisher provides. How do they feel as they’re pushed out of the metaphorical nest to fend for themselves on the Web?

Over the last year I’ve been talking to book authors around the world, some in my course, Publish and Sell Your Ebooks, some on the Web, and some across North America in writing events I’ve attended. What do they think?

Well, some worry about finding their audience. It used to be easy. Publishers had specific lines they marketed through catalogs that were mailed out to buyers. Poetry collections went to bookstores. Novels had a broader reach and could end up anywhere from Chapters/Indigo to the airport. Children’s materials went safely off to schools and public libraries.

But where do readers go now? Paper or digital? Amazon or Kobo? And what about those additional markets that used to be predictable? The library that carried all of a local author’s titles. Those garage sales where you could pick up last season’s new hardcover releases for a dollar or two and add them to your own library? How does an author have any idea where to put her promotional efforts (that publishers also require of them these days) to find those readers?

And what about the books themselves and all the hype about how they’ve changed now that many titles take wings and fly from digital bookshelves? We hear everyday that cross-genre books are popular, how voracious romance readers can now buy romance/SF/time travel novels and romance/fantasy novels. But in the end, when book sellers tally up the numbers, those books still end up in a genre or sub-genre. After all, we can’t count things if we don’t put them in piles or columns of some sort.

crystal ball

When I look at my own fiction books, I know that there’s some sort of mystery in all of my books (even the one that my publisher completely gave away in the catalog that was supposed to get it onto all those bookstore shelves) and they have a coming-of-age element that’s likely the key theme of the book. The thing is that they aren’t all in the same main genre, so I’ve been crossing those genres all along. And judging from the books I’ve read, so have most other authors.

Things are rarely black and white…they’re more often many shades of grey.

Another thing that worries authors I’ve spoken to is whether anyone will ever care about the stories they’ve written, unless the books end up as blockbusters like 50 Shades of Grey or Hunger Games or Harry Potter. One of the main tenants of librarianship is the idea that “to every book its reader.” With hundreds of thousands of books released every year, and “old” books still available though, it may seem like matching up that book with its reader would be even tougher than finding a needle in a haystack.

But assuming authors overcome these challenges, there’s still that big hurdle of getting a book accepted by a traditional publisher or making the decision to start on that long and winding road as a hybrid author “doing it all.”

What are publishers looking for today or do they even know?


We’re going to see the ebook universe mirror the print universe — with more domination by a few well-known names. Book publishing now has two separate systems: one for largely traditional authors, another for largely digital authors. The traditional system gets more press from mainstream media, but there are thousands of authors making good money via indie publishing. This year that’s going to start to become tougher, as the ebook market will do what print has done, and move toward the rule of the 80/20 (the Pareto Principle, where 80% of the income comes from 20% of the books).

Read the whole article at MacGregor Literary.


I’m not sure a crystal ball would even be any help!

My own writing career has been something of a square dance, changing partners with every do sa do taking me to another country, before I decided to go solo. In fact, I’ve published with educational publishers, trade publishers, specialty publishers, book packagers, textbook publishers, and e-book publishers in five countries. Nothing like variety, is there?

And the one thing I do know is that each book contract came with its own unique challenges, before and after the signing. I’m guessing that’s the one constant in the ever-changing world of publishing.




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