Self-Publishing . . . the numbers . . .

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by valleyoflepers, Jul 20, 2009.

  1.  
    valleyoflepers

    valleyoflepers New Member

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    I'm a writer in America. I've been writing for 10 years now. I like writing and editing a lot. But what I like most is research on the whole industry. I've seen the numbers every year for the last few years or so on all aspects of the game. As a professional, I don't like to give out my secrets and hard work for free. But I can tell you this much, the traditional publisher is a dying breed. They will never be completely extinct, but there will only be a few left. The numbers don't lie! Self publishing is the way to go! Any new writer who sends out letters to publishers who most likely aren't reading them anyway, you're wasting your time. Publishers and agents and editors for publishers, dying out. The game has changed. The key to success is marketing and advertising.

    60% of people who buy a book, see an ad. for it on-line . . .

    25% of people who buy books, buy on-line . . .

    The numbers are only going to get worse for trad. publishers and agents and bookstores over the next 3 to 5 years.

    I suspect that 75 to 80 % of people who buy a book will see an ad. for it on the internet. I also suspect that 50% and rising will buy their books on the internet in the next 3 to 5 years.

    (No more stats. . . .take it for what it's worth. Self-publish . . .use the internet to promote. Save 3 to 5 years sending out letters to people and use that time more wisely, like doing research on the internet and book promo on the internet. Because by the time 3 to 5 years slip by and you get a publisher, even if that happens, the game has changed.)
  2.  
    Scarfy

    Scarfy Stephen J Sweeney

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    I can tell you that 95% of all the books I have bought and read in the past six years have been a result of word of mouth.
  3.  
    dustinzgirl

    dustinzgirl Mod of Awesome

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    I completely disagree. The traditional publisher is certainly not a dying breed, I have yet to see any self published book on the NY Times BS list or any other list of top hits in books other than what the self publisher publishes themselves.

    I have also self published, so I'm not bashing on it, I think its great for some people and not so great for others.
  4.  
    Professor 0110

    Professor 0110 The Writer of Fantasy

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    The advantage of being published by an established publishing company is that the author doesn't have to worry about marketing and also they have strong links with many bookshops and the like (as well as online), more so than the unknown author.

    In essence, normal publishing allows for more time writing, less time marketing.
  5.  
    iansales

    iansales New Member

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    The average self-published book sells 100 copies. If you're happy with that level of sales, then by all means self-publish.
  6.  
    marklord

    marklord New Member

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    Dear Valleyoflepers

    Where do you get your stats from?

    Mark
  7.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

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    Hi VOL,

    And welcome.

    I'm not sure where you get your facts from, but I'm not sure I accept what you say. When I first read your post, I thought that you were one of these coves who turns up every now and again and registers as a member in order to try and sell us all something. Occasionally it's knock-off Rolex watches or DKNY romper suits, but usually it is something vaguely literary - an online book, a writer's community or some sort of self-publishing service.

    Happily, you don't appear to be doing that and I see that you have put up a piece of writing elsewhere (although possibly in the wrong place - expect it to be moved to Critiques eftsoones).

    I don't dispute that self publishing is right for some people and, in a relatively small number of cases, has led to a more traditonal deal for a good writer (including at least one member of this site, as I understand it). But the line between self and vanity publishing can be rather thin and blurred and I'm afraid that my view is that a good deal (although not all, by any means) of self-published material is pretty weak in terms of quality. My guess is that for many, Being A Writer is more important than Learning How To Write. Thanks to all of these internet operations, is now very easy to Be A Writer and to hold your book in your hand, but alas it is no more easy than ever before to learn how to do it properly.

    The traditional route is much more difficult, in terms of getting publishers or agents and going through endless edits and rewrites. Many talented writers will never make it for whatever reason (let us not pretend that the traditional route is immune to the vagaries of fashion and celebrity), but as a general rule, those that do will end up with a work which has effectively been through a pretty rigourous quality control process.

    It might be different for the young - and no-one can doubt that the internet and technology has a role to play - but for most of us, books are bought on recommendation or from browsing in bookshops and seeing what catches our eye. I will use the Internet to buy something which I already know that I want, but I am highly unlikely to use it buy speculatively, especially literature. I don't think that I am alone.

    Regards,

    Peter
  8.  
    Pyar

    Pyar anticipating destiny

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    I agree with Scarfy, nearly all the books I read are through word of mouth or through my interest in the author. I don't think I've ever just seen an ad for a book on the internet and then gone out and bought it.

    I just want some clarification from you though, what do you mean by ad.? Do you mean like a google ad or a banner on a website? Or do you mean like getting it listed on Amazon?
  9.  
    Scarfy

    Scarfy Stephen J Sweeney

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    A couple of books I've recently read have even been suggestions from these boards. Actually they were made by John Jarrold. And he either agented or edited them... :) Good reads, though!

    (RED WOLF CONSPIRACY and USE OF WEAPONS if anyone is wondering)
  10.  
    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    I too have my doubts about VOP's stats, but I have to admit that I am far out of the norm when it comes to buying books, and that would be true about everyone (maybe nearly everyone?) else in this forum. Book dealers are struggling as a whole. I don't think anyone doubts that. The internet is a part of the problem because most books are cheaper on line. (For someone living in a rural area if the cost of gasooline is added they are always cheaper on line.)

    Still, I think the greater challenge in the future is that so few people will actually read a book. My college educated son has not read a novel in years. My high school educated daughter (with a reading disability) reads several a year. Go figure!
  11.  
    marklord

    marklord New Member

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    I think Peter Graham makes a good point about the attractions of Self-Publishing. It is going to be quite attractive, as in most cases it is very difficult to try to get something published. The discipline of actually finishing a piece of writing is hard enough, but to then face rejection and requests for edits and rewrites can lead one to begin doubting whether it is worth it.

    With self-publishing though you perhaps can get round that issue and quickly see something actually in print, but as Peter says, have you really learnt to write well and something that is good enough for people to want to read. At the end of the day, I think that unless you have exhausted all avenues it is better to keep getting rejected and trying to improve your writing until you finally do get something published via the normal channels. The prestige and sense of achievement of this has got to be more than just seeing your book published by yourself? Anyone can do that after all can't they?
  12.  
    dustinzgirl

    dustinzgirl Mod of Awesome

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    Um...I'm a marketing major, and there's a few things wrong with your statements, OP. I didn't really pay attention to them before. I'd say check your sources, because if those stats come from an online marketing or online book self publisher, there's a pretty good chance they are skewed and not at all valid.

    Most people see online ads for something. I see them for cars all the time, and I drive an old truck. Most people do not purchase based on an online advertisement. Most people still purchase by word of mouth, especially entertainment. For example, with movie trailers, lots of people will see the trailer online at youtube or wherever, but the majority of these people will only see the movie that their friends recommended.

    I don't care how good your advertising reach is, only a very, very small part of the population will purchase a book they have never heard of from a friend and just saw an online add for, especially in any of the fiction genres. This is not true for self help and non fiction for the most part.

    PS: There are like, 6.7 billion people in this world. 60% of that is approximately 4.02. 4.02 billion people do not buy books online.

    PPS: If you really want to market your self published book, blog, blog, blog.
  13.  
    mygoditsraining

    mygoditsraining New Member

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    The OP's statistics are meaningless without some form of reference to validate them, is the basic counter. It's all well and good to get really excited about an idea, but it's another thing entirely to get other people excited about it. I attended (and pitched at) a Business Angels meeting last week (very much like Dragon's Den) and believe me - investors at any level want cold, hard numbers that you can back up with zero hand-flapping.

    Interestingly, I was reading today about OR books, the publishing house that intends to sell via print-on-demand and ebook downloads only, and while that might seem like they are writing their own bankruptcy notice ahead of time it seems they are doing two important things to get their business noticed:

    1) using their contacts list to build a stable of editors with excellent backgrounds.

    2) investing the money they'd otherwise spend on the process of regular print publishing and deliveries in marketing their product.

    While it might not seem like a massively profitable concept at the moment, they are capitalising on prior experience and getting their foot in the door early. Hopefully the trend of web only publishers that work on the principle of mass-targeting would-be authors with the "publish your own book, lol" dream has started to decline.

    EDIT: Here's the story I was reading about OR.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  14.  
    marklord

    marklord New Member

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    Disappointed to see that OR Books website is only one page - I was interested in finding out a bit more about them - why launch a company and not get some info out onto the web? Unless I went to the wrong page. Is orbooks.com the right url?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2009
  15.  
    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    It does say it's starting this October, marklord, so perhaps it's not up and running in any form yet.

    BTW, as you've less than the requisite number of posts to post a link, your last one went into moderation. I've removed the last sentence, and validated it.
  16.  
    marklord

    marklord New Member

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    They did manage to have a launch party though - do a search on OR books on Google and you will see news stories about them.

    Not sure why you removed the last sentence though? What did I say that was so controversial? Have I been censored? It is rather disappointing in my view for something to be promoted but then not to have information available about it - breaks a key rule of marketing in my opinion.
  17.  
    mygoditsraining

    mygoditsraining New Member

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    He was moderating according to the board rules.

    As I understand it, they exist as measures to prevent spam and marketing-based accounts. The knock-on effect is that everyone posts under a series of basic restrictions at first, and later those restrictions are relaxed.

    Now, I'm not naive enough to think forum mods are above suspicion in all acts, but I've followed enough of pyan's posts to know that he explains himself, and did so in the previous post, hence:

    Back on-topic, I think one of the largest e-retailers on the planet, Amazon, are still reeling from their mishandling of the discussion over digital rights.

    Considering they are still reticent to release details of what the terms of digital rights are for the Kindle and to what extent they allow competitive devices to read material sold through Amazon, at a guess anyone looking to do digital content publishing through them is currently sitting down with their lawyers and going through the EULA for the Kindle because the current level of control Amazon exercise is a joke.

    I wouldn't be surprised if we end up seeing a general slowdown of ebook content releases until Amazon relent a little on the Vader chokehold action. Their sheer size and popularity makes them the retailer of choice for sellers aiming for the mass-market and I don't see any publuisher moving ahead with large cash outlay marketing schemes until they have Amazon on board.
  18.  
    marklord

    marklord New Member

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    Regarding the issue of numbers, I have just come across a press release regarding a major study by Bowkers, this reports that 21% of book buyers became aware of a book via an online ad or promotion - not quite the 60% quoted previously on this thread.

    Go to the Bowker website and look for their press releases link to see a bit more info. The detailed stats are only available if you pay a hefty $999!
  19.  
    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    I'm actually surprised by the 21%. I would have guessed about 5%.
  20.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    I couldn't find the article in Bowkers' website (but I can't guarantee I was looking in the right place :eek:), but I have 3 queries off the top of my head:

    a) I wonder if it is 21% of the book buyers who buy on-line, ie it doesn't include those who buy in bookshops? If you are internet savvy enough to find ads or promotions for books on-line, are you then likely to wait for a few days to go into a real bookshop, or are you more likely just to go through to Amazon or wherever?

    b) 21% of book buyers does not equate to 21% of books bought. Without access to the statistics there's no way of knowing if these people had never bought another book in their lives and never would again.

    c) how many of the 21% were buying non-fiction? I can imagine there might be a lot of people who see promotions for things like 'Lose 28lbs of fat in 2 days' and buy the book straight off.

    There might come a day when traditional bookshops are no more, but I'm hoping that it won't be for a time. Meanwhile, perhaps those of us who are aspiring authors should be making more use of them.

    J
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