The Bad Old Days of Publishing

According to Mark Coker, owner of Smashwords, in the first paragraph of his free book, The Secrets of Ebook Publishing Success, How to Reach More Readers With Your Words, the bad old days of publishing were just six short years ago. Back in that time, an author had to go through a number of designated steps which included: (a) find an agent (b) wait patiently (c) and if very lucky, find a publisher.

Most agents of that time, myself included, knew that the success ratio of finding anyone (editor or publisher) interested in your work was somewhere in the area of 10%. Not great odds.

Those who self-published were looked upon with scorn. If you added in your query letter to an agent that you were self-published they would either ignore you or write back saying they couldn’t help you. Authors used to say it was like trying to figure out what came first the chicken or the egg. Being published or getting published if you weren’t published you were not good enough and if you self-published you were not good enough. It was pure frustration for many.

Then came 2011 and Nook, Kindle and Kobo Ebook readers and the Ebook revolution came to being. Over the years that followed, self-publishing became the norm.  Amazon created KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) then came Barnes and Noble with Nook Press.  A year or so later, Kobo launched its self-publishing program.

It didn’t take long before new bestselling authors were standing toe to toe with those created by the big publishing houses.  A new era had emerged—that of the Indie Author/Publisher.

Martin Brown Publishers is considered an Indie Publisher.  We’re small but we can do what huge publishers like Random House, Simon and Schuster, and Harlequin can’t do. We can have a finished E and Print book in reader’s hands in less than a month after the contract agreement is signed, whereas major publishers take an average of 18 months to two years to accomplish this same feat.

How come it takes the majors (big publishers) so long to publish a book? The reason is they have a different focus. They don’t concentrate on reader but on marketing to reviewers to create pre-pub buzz to bookstores, the movie/TV market and the foreign rights and translation markets.  The really don’t care about ebooks, their focus is still paperback and hardcover for the library shelves.  Who will read the books is a problem left to their distributors and those who buy in large volume. They shower marketing dollars on those who make money for them; consequently, those have no platform don’t get a second look. They have huge backlists of authors who are low sellers.  They keep these lists because some unknowns do sometimes break out. Times change and with those changes comes different entertainment needs.

The Ebook revolution and the demise of many large bookstore chains has changed the way books are published and bought. The Ebook and print-on- demand soft cover titles make it possible for the indie publisher to exist and even be sucessful against odds that used to keep them at bay. These days many small publishers exist because our focus is on producing a great book and helping our authors build platforms where they can reach their readers directly.

If authors choose to self=publish, the tools are available. No longer do authors have to wait patiently for people they don’t  know at legacy publishers to validate their talent and skill. They now have choices: Go it alone or ask for help from Indie Publishers who better understand readers wants and needs.

Posted in Publishing.

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