Things have changed so quickly in the world of publishing. It wasn’t so long ago that the BIG publishers were willing to reward best selling authors with huge advances. Now the game has changed and the huge advances are about as likely to happen as winning the lottery. The days of Donna Tartt are over. The new e-world order for authors is publishing their own work via a number of different distribution methods but the one that seems to be working the best at the moment is e-publishing. A lot of writers, including some very big names, are setting themselves up to publish their own material. Thus, authors are taking control over the future of their writing back from the bigger publishers – and that in most cases is a win-win.
Publishers have a vested interest in selling paper. That is the main reason they often keep the price of the e-books so high relative to their hard and soft back editions – especially for their proven authors with large backlists. Traditional publishers only understand distribution of a paper product. They want you to choose the paper versions over the electronic version so they keep the prices close – therefore encouraging the purchase of paper based product. That they do so doesn’t serve the needs of either the author or the public. Moreover, that the traditional publishers have stuck to their guns on this issue, only helps to self-servingly prolong their crumbling empires and outmoded marketing models. They have been shortsighted, and much like the railroads that never realised that they were in the transportation business last century and so fought a futile fight to maintain market dominance, mainstream publishers are increasingly finding themselves irrelevant. Of course they won’t disappear entirely, but they are relegating themselves from the mass market to a niche market: paper based distribution.
Another industry was too involved in protecting its empires to learn and adapt to the needs of the marketplace. The music industry did not embrace the pace and tide of change – which was against them. They suffered the consequences at their own peril. Now they haven’t disappeared but they can be said to have been marginalized.
Now, authors can publish their own work quickly and cost effectively via electronic distribution allowing the author to achieve a higher return on their investment of time and energy and the public to pay prices that allow them to read more books. Paper books won’t disappear. People will still want to have paper-based cookbooks, art books and the like, but paper will just be one form of distribution among others. This is good news for authors who are increasingly ready and capable to publish their own content. This benefits both the writers and public who are increasingly buying new books by name authors under a threshold of £4.99 – something that seems to be able to happen only in the new e-world order of publishers. Even with lower prices for the public, authors end up much better off in almost every respect.