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Vanishing shelf space and self-promotion. (part 3)

I remember in the good old days (6 months ago) when authors on Verla Kay’s blue boards would fret when Borders and Barnes & Nobles didn’t pick up their books.

Why did they worry so much?

Because those major chains not picking up their books meant the slow and terrible death of their first and probably only print run. If a book wasn’t in the major chains, almost no one would see it, almost no one would buy it, which meant no one could read it and love it.

So let’s explore the diminishing shelf space at the bookstores that are left and then figure out what it means for authors and self promotion.

Here’s a quote from Joe Konrath from his post, One more nail in the coffin.

Now, we can debate the health of indie bookstores, and the two remaining chains, B&N and Books-A-Million, but pretty much every account I’ve read says that print sales are down and ebook sales are up. I’m confident the end result is the Big 6 publishing fewer books in print, which means fewer print sales, which is bad for the publisher/bookseller bottom line.

Here’s a quote from Bob Mayer from his post, eBooks as the new mass market paper back and don’t be a Buridan’s ass. (Don’t get caught in indecision.)

The big cloud I’m seeing on the horizon is the growing awareness in NY that they need to revise the way they view the eBook.  It’s not competition for their print sales, it’s part of their overall revenue stream.  I predict we will see a lot more books from the Big 6 priced under $5 in the coming months.  I think there will be more direct to eBook publishing, where the book might never even come out in print.

Kris Rusch in her post, Bookstore Observations comments on her experience at Barnes & Nobles.

To sum up, Kris talks about less books, less authors and less shelf space. I’m sure most of you don’t need to read about her experience to understand what’s happening to bookstores. But go ahead and read it anyway.

And one more by Anne R. Allen in her recent post, What will publishing look like in 2021.

Anne predicts that due to bookstores downsizing their inventory, print will be reduced to gift books, celebrity books, bibles, coffee table books, small children pop-ups, top selling superstar books. (Hopefully this is in the far future!)

I’m adding this link by historical romance author, Courtney Milan. An open letter to agents.

Courtney addresses agents in an open letter. Published authors and unpublished writers alike are talking. We’re looking for answers. Basically, agents need to show how they can make their top selling authors more money than self publishing. No publishing arm. No 15% commission for something we can do ourselves. It’s a must read.

Let’s circle back to the authors who used to worry about their books being in the big chains or not. I think today, authors will be lucky if their books stay in Barnes & Nobles longer than a few months, if it even makes it into the bookstore at all.

So sure, a book appearing in a bookstore would be wonderful – as writers isn’t that our dream? But I don’t think that’s what will make or break a career anymore. I’m not sure the biggest concern should be how to publish. (self pub vs traditional)

  • Writers need focus on producing a book that causes word of mouth grassroots sales, where bookstore sales would just be the icing on the cake.
  • Writers need to seriously think about their plans to market themselves and their books.

What do you think?

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Let’s talk: Agents as Publishers.

The purpose of these posts is not to advise writers whether to go traditional or indie. I am for writers being informed. We can’t afford to hide our heads in the publishing sands and expect to make decisions on our career.

Some facts:

  • If you keep the rights then you are self published.
  • If your agent keeps the rights then your agent is your publisher.
  • If your agent helps you self publish, do you trust him/her to always put your interests and career first?

Be informed. That’s the key.

So let’s look at what different industry professionals have to say about this. In many of these posts there are gold nuggets of info in the comments.

Mary Kole wrote about The Agent’s Role in Today’s Digital Book World at the digital book world blog.

In response, Dean Wesley Smith posted: The New World of Publishing: Agents and The Future. He expresses his concerns (and that’s putting it nicely) about Mary’s ideas.

And my response to these articles is to point you in this direction. Barry Eisler guest posted at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. He breaks down the agent as publisher issue very logically and in a nice way. No bashing.

And here’s Agent Scott Eagan with his post: I heard agents are no longer needed.

And if you’re interested here are a few other posts:

So, that’s a lot to think about. In some of the posts, I don’t care for the bashing of the system, industry professionals, and “stupid” writers, but if you look beyond the style to the content, you’ll find valid concerns.

What do you think? If you’re not sure what you think, what are your questions?

Comments { 31 }

WARNING: Changes in publishing industry may cause whiplash.

I am absolutely fascinated with the changes happening monthly. The contradictory articles and posts written by people within the same industry are extremely informative. And interesting.

Here are just some of the issues causing my head to spin:

  • Agent vs no agent.
  • Traditional publishing vs self or e-publishing.
  • Agents helping their clients self publish. Is it a conflict of interest? Or not?
  • Big publishers not being honest about ebook sales. (Yikes!)
  • Publishers not giving authors a big enough percent on ebook sales.
  • Do the work on your own to epublish or pay someone else?
  • Is traditional publishing dying a slow and painful death? Or not?
  • Write fast vs write slow. Which is it?
  • Should writers be discouraged or encouraged?

No one has all the answers. Each month the industry changes. No one seems to be totally right or totally wrong. And I think it’s awesome.

I have come to one solid truth. Only you can decide what is right for your career. But whatever you decide. DO THE RESEARCH. Know your options.

As a writer, I feel like I’m in the middle of a revolution. The opportunities have never been better. I don’t know my path yet. I’m not fully decided. That’s why I’m doing the research. Every Wednesday, I’m going to provide one of the following: links, a response to a blog post, a thought provoking question, or an Indy book review. Something that pertains to this publishing revolution. And it’s relevant to all writers whether you have an agent or not and whether you are published or not.

Here’s one article to get us started. It’s about self publishing being the new midlist. You might have read it.

Have you been paying attention? What do you think?  *hands out warm compress*

Comments { 52 }