This presentation by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, examines the future of book publishing. The presentation was given at the Fremont Writers chapter of the California Writers Club on December 8, 2012.
The Problem with Traditional Publishing1. Publishers control * the printing press * the distribution * the knowledge to professionally publish2. Publishers reject most authors3. Publishers judge books on perceived commercial merit4. Publishers decide what readers can read5. Slow production cycles (12-18 mo)6. Print books too expensive7. Books forced out of print early8. Authors earn only 5-17% of list price
I Envisioned a More Democratic Form of Publishing1. Authors gain access to: * the printing press * the distribution * the knowledge to professionally publish2. Authors free to publish what they want3. Instant publishing4. Readers choose what they want to read5. Immortal books, never go out of print6. Low cost books increase affordability7. Authors earn the lion’s share of the proceeds
My Answer: Smashwords• FREE ebook publishing platform • Ebook printing press • Distribution to major ebook stores • Best practices knowledge
How Smashwords Works1. UPLOAD • Upload a Microsoft Word file, formatted to our Smashwords Style Guide • Ready for immediate sale online1. DISTRIBUTE • Distribution to major retailers1. GET PAID • Author receives 85% of net
Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 185,000 + (today)200000150000 92,000100000 28,800 50000 6,000 140 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Enough about me.Let’s talk about your future as a writer.
You were taught to bow subservient before the altar of Big Publishing
you weren’t an author until a publisher blessed you as such… and unless you got a book deal, you were a failure
… and in a sense it was truePublishers held all the power to connect you with readers
You were told to keep toiling and waiting. And waiting… Rejection would make you stronger
… and if you dared indulge in the carnal pleasures of self-publishing...
Publishers were the bouncers at the pearly gates of author heaven• Promised Perks of the Afterlife • editing • printing press • distribution • marketing • royalties • fame and respect • readers • “published author” inscribed on your tombstone
You were told …you’d get a deal when you perfected your craft like these other great published writers …
Percentage of book purchasesmade online vs B&M, Print and E- Web Brick & Mortar Today?
Bookselling moves to the Web• The decline of brick and mortar• Consumer drivers: • Price • Convenience • Selection• Self-published books displayed side by side with traditional books • Big publishers no longer control distribution
A blast from the past: Ebook market share in 20081.2 10.80.60.40.2 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org.
Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012 Smashwords estimate
Ebooks to overtake printPrint books Ebooks Print booksEbooks Dollars Units
Why ebooks are hot• Screens offer better reading experience than paper • Changeable font size A B C D • Portable and compact • Screens will get better/faster/cheaper• Ebooks offer better consumption experience • Lower cost than print • Convenient sampling and purchasing • Huge selection
Number of books published indie vs. traditional Indie books New trad. books Today?
Indies are Now Out-Publishing Big Publishers• Indie author advantages • faster time to market • greater creative control • lower expenses • better distribution to global market • Immortal ebooks never go out of print • lower prices to consumers • earn more per book
Indies are Now Out-Publishing Big Publishers• Indies scaling all the bestseller lists • Four Smashwords authors hit August 5 NY Times Bestseller list. • Every week, indie ebooks are in the bestseller lists of every retailer • This month, Apple iBookstore AU/NZ launched “Breakout Author” promotion – Smashwords only
Indie Ebook Authors Earn Higher Percentage of List Price Indie Traditional 60-80% 12-17%• Indies earn more at lower prices • Indies earn more selling a $.99 ebook ($.60-$.70) than a traditional $8.00 MMP ($.40) • At $2.99, indies earn $1.80. Trad. author would have to sell at $10.25 • Lower price = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale
TREND FOUR Content Explosion Leads toDownward Pressure on Prices
Glut leads to ebook price competition $4.25 $3.15 October 2010 March 2012Average price of Smashwords ebooks
... Impact of content explosion• The glut will only become more pronounced• Excess supply leads to price competition• Lower prices increase affordability and accessibility • More books will be read than ever before • Readers will still pay for books• Can publishers drop prices to $2.99- $3.99?
TREND FIVE Publishers Losing Monopoly asWriters Gain Tools to Self-Publish
Big Publishers Have Lost Their Monopoly• Printing press is free to all• Distribution free to all• Knowledge to publish, distribute and market high-quality, professional books is free to all• Professional authors asking: • “What can a publisher do for me that I can’t do for myself?” • “Will a publisher actually limit my ability to reach readers?”
TREND SIX Print is Dead for Most Self- Published Authors (and will become less and lessimportant to traditionally published authors)
Print is Dead• Brick and mortar bookstores disappearing• Most self-pubbed authors don’t have access to brick and mortar distribution• Customers choosing low cost ebooks over high-priced print books• Exceptions: • Face to face print sales will continue • Some books are meant for print (for now) • Specialty souvenir books sold in non-traditional outlets
The Global Ebook Opportunity• Countries outside the US are entering the exponential phase of their ebook growth• Ebook retailers going global • Apple iBookstore (50), Amazon (10), Kobo (many), B&N (U.K.+)• 46% of Smashwords/iBookstore sales global
Big Publisher Headwinds• Hamstrung by legacy print business • Print business in decline, slow to adopt ebooks • High expense structures • Ebooks sell for less, so revenues under pressure• Consolidation • Big 6 now Big 5, soon to be Big 3
Suffering Self-Inflicted Wounds• Not serving writers• Bumbled entry into self- publishing• Pricing ebooks too high• Writers are angry• Let’s review a couple of these…
Authors Singing Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take it!”• Publishers: • Reject you • Delay you • Value your work on perceived commercial merit • Strip you of your creative freedom • Force you to do most of your own marketing • Force you out of print too soon • Pay you only 5-17% of list price • Price your books too high
Publishers’ High eBook Prices Threaten Writer Careers Why?
Authors Yield Two Benefits from Every Sale1. Money from the sale • Unit sales X royalty per unit = profit1. Gain a fan • Fans spread word of mouth, recruit new fans • Fans eagerly await your next book • Fans are less price sensitive Pricing strategy essential to maximize both
Publishers’ bumbled entry into self- publishing will backfire
In July, the parent company ofPenguin acquired Author Solutions Author Solutions earns over 2/3 of itsincome selling over-priced services to authors $25,000 publishing packages! Blood sucking parasites
Writers DON’T need to pay a king’s ransom to self publishEbook self-publishing is fast, free and easy Print self-publishing can be free or extremely low-cost
TREND NINEThe Previous Stigma of Self- Publishing is Disappearing
Stigmas to reverse Aspire AspireTraditional IndieAspire Indie Aspire Traditional 4 yrs ago Today? Future?
Give readers great books that are as good or better than those released by Big Publishers(and do it faster with lower prices)
The task before you is not easy. It requires hard work. yet…
The Opportunity to Reach Readers Has Never Been Greater
Welcome to the new world of publishing You’re in charge now. You have options.
Who’s The Future of Publishing? Look around you, that’s who. YOU are the future of publishing!
Free Ebook Publishing Resources• NEW! Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors)• Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book)• Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook)
Thank you for considering the future! Q&AConnect with Mark Coker and Smashwords:Web: www.smashwords.comBlog: blog.smashwords.comLinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcokerFacebook: facebook.com/markcokerHuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-cokerTwitter: @markcoker