There’s a lot of chatter going on the internet and the newspapers about ebooks. With publishing companies like Harper Collins capping ebook check-out through libraries, it seems the so-called big six publishing companies are getting a little scared of the digital arena. For my friends who know nothing about how traditional publishing works, allow me to briefly enlighten you.
Years ago, before the economy turned to crap, publishing companies were constantly looking for the next big thing. They like writers like Stephen King and J.K Rowling, writers who consistently strive to top their previous efforts, or, like King, can capitalize on name brand alone. When the economy cratered, these same publishers lowered the amount they would advance on a novel. (Advance means just that…a check against royalties. If your book doesn’t sell, YOU are buying back the copies they printed, normally with that advance you just blew on a new car.) Advances grew smaller, as well as print runs. A lot of the mid-sized publishers went under, most struggled. While this was happening, a little company you may have heard of called Amazon.com decided to open its doors to writers.
Things haven’t been the same since.
The digital transformation has been happening for a while now, so it’s not a new thing. The news about it is new to most people, namely because of Amazon. Whereas a traditional publisher typically pays the author thirty percent of each book sold, keeping the rest to pay for printing, Amazons digital format (and Barnes & Nobles, among others) is about the same, provided you price the book under $2.99. Price it at or above $2.99, the author gets 70%. Yep, that’s SEV-EN-TY PER-CENT.
Now, I can hear the collective groans already. Bob, who would sell their book for three bucks?
.Amanda Hocking, that’s who. She’s basically a millionaire now, and traditional publishers can’t match what she earns.
Let’s examine this a little. She writes Young Adult paranormal romance, probably the hardest genre to get into, but one of the most rewarding because it’s Hot Hot Hot right now. And it’ll stay Hot too, for years. I wish I liked to write that kind of stuff, but no…I tend to go a little too dark, and use naughty language, and my characters usually have no redeeming qualities. She sells most of her books at 99 cents or three bucks. Her 99 cent books, which earn less per book, actually make her more money because of the sheer volume she sells.
Does this mean that any knucklehead can pump out 50,000 words, call it a novel, and slam it into the digital arena and quit their day job?
NO, and you’re a fool if you think so.
Within the next year, I’m going to try this market out. Making money is not the goal, at least not for me. Sure, money is nice, but I’m also concerned with the longevity of this whole digital thing. I learned a long time ago, if something is too good to be true, it probably is. My goal is to try a novella, maybe 25,000-35,000 words. Keep it genre focused and pimp the hell out of it. Traditional publishers want writers to have a platform. Face it, these guys have a job to do and that job is to sell as many books as they possibly can. If they are going to print the book and/or get it formatted for the digital world, that obviously takes time and effort, and they want to know that you can pimp the book. So, no, the money will be nice, but I want the sales.
I want my platform, basically my readers, my followers, to become my foundation. With this foundation, I will hopefully land a great agent that will help me on the path to doing what I want to do, write full-time.
There’s a lot of hard work that’s going to go into this, so it’ll be a while before you actually see it. Possibly this year, more than likely next year. I’m not about to be foolish and rush this. The readers will know it, smell it, and go out of their way to share it with other readers. Write a bad book, and the readers will kill you in the reviews. So, it’ll be slow going, nice and easy.
You should be glad. If you think I’m annoying now, wait until you see me barking down your neck trying to pimp my book on Amazon.