The online and self publishing world today is such a great space on the web. It reminds me of the joy I had as a newbie blogger back in 2002.
There were about 60,000 bloggers in the world then. This was about the population of the Athens of Socrates. There were the giants, like Doc Searls and Hugh Mcleod, but, as in Athens, we all knew each other. The Agora was small enough. You could "know" everyone. It was such fun because we all struggled to make sense of this new form of communication. The tools were clunky and many would reach out, like Critt Jarvis, and help newbies like myself find out how to put an image into the post.
This is how I am experiencing the self publishing space now.
It too is an Athens with an Agora. The Agora is on Twitter and Facebook and Good Reads. Here we cluster around genres. The one I like the most, that has nothing to do with my own writing, is the Roman fiction genre. The Goddess is Manda Scott. The King is Steven Pressfield. In this genre, the princes are people like Ben Kane, Anthony Riches and Simon Turney. Just as back in 2002, the A list are very generous to the new. They give time and attention and they are very open about their own process and their own work habts and issues. This is a real community.
This is of course just one genre. There are many others. Patti Larsen is a Princess in the teen Witch Genre and is able to publish a book every six weeks. When does she sleep?
Back in 2002 the tools were emerging to make blogging work. There was Blogger itself and there was Dave Winer's Radio Userland. Quickly these tools made it ever easier to post AND to connect. Especially Userland that had RSS at the core and helped us get connected to each other's writing.
Today the connecting tools look like Good Reads and there are new publishing tools like Press Books, dveloped by Hugh McGuire, the Dave Winer of self publishing. Press Books enables the author to organize and lay out an ebook so it looks totally professional. It is like the advent of later Userland that meant that you no longer had to know code to blog. Press Book is based on the Wordpress platform and so is a familiar child of the blogging world.
I think that Self Publishing of books is the next step in "Personal Publishing" that began with blogging. I think that it is the true new long form. For ideal ebooks are not long. For non fiction, less than 150 pages. Better less than 100. There is also a market for the monograph of 30 ages. No more having to pad the book to get to 250 pages in non fiction. For few non fiction books have more than 3 big ideas in them and were only padded to give the sense of value in a old book form.
Kindle is the space. Self publishing is the game now.
"30% of the top-selling e-books on Amazon are self-published, beating out the biggest authors from the largest publishing houses in the world – as well as titles from Amazon’s own imprints (which aren’t included in the Indie Top 100).
This roughly tallies with the limited data we do have from Amazon, who recently announced the top-selling Kindle Books of 2013 (January to March). Seven of the Top 20 were self-published (and that’s not counting formerly self-published work, or Amazon imprint books).
Without more detailed numbers from Amazon, it’s hard to know whether these percentages hold true further down the rankings, but looking at the huge number of categories and granular sub-categories in the Kindle Store – which all have their own bestseller lists, filled with self-publishers – I think it’s safe to assume that is the case. If anything, looking at those genre bestseller lists, I would guess that proportion grows.
Now we can start putting the pieces together. When we factor in the respective market share of Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and Kobo), that leads to the following estimate (which might be conservative): self-publishers have captured 25% of the US e-book market."
I read 90% of books on my Kindle now. I have all but given up paper. I am always early but I see no end to this trend. Most books will be read electronically.
As traditional publishers consolidate, it is also even harder to get published conventionally.
What is changing is not books but publishing. As with everything today, we are leaving an institutional world and arriving in a personal world. The author is on her own as is the musician.
But I do see the need for a new kind of micro publisher. She will have the low overhead of her authors. She will link editors, designers and artists to writer. She will teach how to market. She will herself have a large network in the genres that she works in and, having her support, will introduce the new author to the audience. She will be an aggregator of genres. She may even be the new bookshop?
So what to do? Like the well paying job, being published by a nice cozy publisher who markets your book and gives you an advance and takes you to lunch is dying and is only open to best selllers who have proved themselves by self publishing! This is the Shades of Grey Story.
Stop looking for a publisher and get publishing!
It has never been easier to have your book published. Selling books has always been hard. But I suspect that as each of us gets more connected within the genre of our choice, that even this gets easier. I eagerly await the next volume of my favourite authors. I buy on publishing date often. I review and my own network gets added to the authors.
It was the same in the early days of blogging. Mutual respect, mutual help, being kind and having something to say won an audience. With royalties of up to 70% and rock bottom direct costs, you may not get rich but you might make a good living. A living that gets more secure as your network expands.
But it does demand a lot more work than writing!!!!!!
Here is my start - 4 books in 6 months