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The Future of Book Publishing


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This presentation was given by Mark Coker to the Published Authors Network (PAN) group at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) 2012 annual conference in Anaheim. It explores the major trends facing authors and book publishers.

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The Future of Book Publishing

  1. THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHINGRWA Published Authors Network (PAN) keynote July 25, 2012 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  2. Note to viewer: This presentationwas given on July 25, 2012 at RWA. I’ve made minor annotations tocapture some of the information that was conveyed verbally. Please share this presentation with fellow writers. Permissiongranted to copy and share this presentation with anyone, provided it remains in its unaltered state, and the recipient is not charged for the information.
  3. I bring you a message“a message of hope for those who choose to hear it, andwarning to those who do not”~ Lyrics from Rosetta Stoned by Tool
  4. My Backstory
  5. My wife (fmr reporter for Soap Opera Weeklymagazine) and I wrote a novel about daytime television soap operas
  6. We were repped by one of the top NY literary agencies
  7. Publishers Said “No”• Despite great efforts of our agent, every major publisher said NO (TWICE!)
  8. I imagined hundreds of thousands of other writers like us Silenced
  9. The Problem with Big Publishing• Books judged on perceived commercial merit • Difficult to identify potential bestsellers • Readers decide this!! • Reject many great authors• Publishers deciding what readers can read • Readers shut out• Slow production cycles• Books too expensive• Cannot take a risk on every book
  10. My Answer: Smashwords• Ebooks + Open Publishing • Free ebook publishing tools • Distribution to major ebook stores • Promote publishing best-practices • Power to the author
  11. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords160000 141,000 +140000120000 92,000100000 80000 60000 28,800 40000 6,000 20000 140 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
  12. Smashwords and Romance• Romance = 30% of our sales across our distribution network (Apple, B&N, Sony, Kobo, etc.) • 18% erotica• Average romance title sells 2X the average title at Smashwords store• Romance authors have led the ebook revolution, and will continue to lead
  13. Smashwords, Apple and Romance• Apple iBookstore July 26, 2012 • 4 of top 10 Apple Romance bestsellers, and 10 of the top 20 are from Smashwords • 5 of top 20 bestselling titles store-wide are from Smashwords, and ALL ARE ROMANCE! • 10 of top 40 store-wide bestsellers are from Smashwords, ALL ARE ROMANCE!
  14. Enough about Smashwords.Let’s talk about you, and the future of publishing
  15. Let’s bust a dangerous myth
  16. What myth should we bust?
  17. The Myth of Big Publishing
  18. You were taught to bow subservient before the altar of Big Publishing
  19. … taught you weren’t an author until a publisher blessed you as such… and until you were blessed, you were a failure
  20. Publishers were the bouncers at the pearly gates• You were told a publishing contract would confer… • blessing • acceptance • validation • entry into the afterlife as a “published author”
  21. Publishers controlled Heaven• Promised Perks of the Afterlife • editing • printing press • distribution • marketing • royalties • fame and respect • readers • “published author” inscribed on your tombstone
  22. … and if you dared indulge in the carnal pleasures of self-publishing...
  23. You were told to keep toiling and waiting. And waiting…. … you’d get a deal when you sacrificedenough of your soul like these other great writers…
  24. Justin Bieber got a book deal
  25. Snooki got a book deal
  26. Kourtney, Kim and Khloe got a book deal
  27. StopDon’t sell your soul
  29. “GOD IS DEAD” Friedrich Nietzsche (Message: Institutions live and die basedon the trust, faith and confidence placed in them by the believers. Those of us whostand between the author and reader must add value, otherwise we cease to exist.)
  31. No, though it has lost its wayYou will decide the fate of Big PublishingYou can help it find its way, if you choose that path
  34. TECHNOLOGY IS COLLIDING WITH BIG PUBLISHING (Notes: Technology is a catalyst for rapid evolution. Successful technology is that which satisfies human desires for greaterempowerment, and for products and services that are faster, cheaper, more accessible and more useful. Technology can be disruptive by rendering old business models and practices obsolete. )
  35. Here comes technology
  36. Let’s examine the changes
  37. FIVE TRENDS TO ROCK THE WORLD OF PUBLISHING(notes: to prepare for the future, it’s more important you understand where you’reheading, rather than when you’ll get there.Here, I will share macro representations of where your world is headed
  38. TREND ONEBookselling moving to the Web
  39. Percentage of book purchasesmade online vs B&M, Print and E- Web Brick & Mortar Today?
  40. 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
  41. TREND TWO:Reading Moving to Screens
  42. Screens are the new paper
  43. Ebooks to overtake print Ebooks Print books Today?
  44. 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, 2012 Smashwords estimate
  45. Why ebooks are hot• Screens offer better reading experience than paper • Changeable font size A A A A • Portable and compact • Screens will get better/faster/cheaper • Amazon, Apple, B&N, etc• Ebooks offer better consumption experience • Lower cost than print • Convenient sampling and purchasing • Huge selection
  46. TREND THREEThe Rise of Ebook Self-Publishing (a.k.a indie ebook publishing)
  47. Number of books published indie vs. traditional Indie books New trad. books Today?
  48. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 141,000 +160000 (July 2012)140000120000 92,000 +100000 80000 60000 28,800 40000 6,000 20000 140 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
  49. New tools open book publishing and distribution to all• Tools such as Smashwords empower you to become your own publisher • Free printing press in the cloud • Distribution to major online ebookstores, libraries
  50. Indies are Now Out-Publishing Big Publishers• Indies scaling all the bestseller lists • (Aug 1, 2012 update: Four Smashwords authors in August 5 NY Times Bestseller list.)• Indie author advantages • faster time to market • greater creative control • lower prices to consumers • lower expenses • better distribution to global market • never go out of print • earn more per book
  51. Indie Ebook Authors Earn Higher Percentage of List Price Indie Traditional 60-80% 5-12-17%• 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
  52. TREND FOUR Content Explosion Leads toDownward Pressure on Prices
  53. Glut leads to price competition $4.25 $3.15 October 2010 March 2012Average price of Smashwords ebooks
  54. TREND FIVEPublishers Losing Primacy
  55. 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• Big Publishers overprice• 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?”
  56. Stigmas to Flip? Aspire AspireTraditional IndieAspire Indie Aspire Traditional 4 yrs ago Today? Future?
  57. What is Success?
  58. The Success Flywheel
  59. How Price and Royalty Impact Success
  60. The Interplay Between Unit Volume and Dollar Volume• Per research released at RT Booklovers, lower prices sell more units, and $2.99-$5.99 earns authors more than $6.99+ • Implications • Lower priced books sell more units, build author brand and author platform faster • If given option to earn equal or more income selling $2.99 ebook vs. $6.99+ ebook, $2.99 author wins the long term game because they’re building platform and author brand faster than traditionally published authors. See recent SW blog post, How Traditional Publishers Can Harm Author’s Career . • Indie ebook authors may have long term advantage over trad. authors
  61. How Price Impacts Units SoldA book priced at $2.99 sells approximately 6.2 times as many units as a book priced over $10.00, and about 4 times more than $9.99
  62. What Price Yields Highest Earnings?
  63. Interplay of price, volume, royalty: Indies building platform, earning more per unit sold Author earnings Traditional 17.5% Indie would list earn 60%+ list $2.27 $7.80 $.60 $2.40
  64. How Big Publishers can Regain the Faith• Do for authors what authors cannot or will not do for themselves• Change the publishing mindset • Serve authors first • Empower editors (the heart and soul of great publishers!) • Develop long tail strategies• Forget about selling, focus on publishing• Increase author royalties• Abandon DRM
  65. The Plan Forward for Romance Authors
  66. The 5 Trends Create a Future that will… Benefit Indie AuthorsDisadvantage Some Traditional Authors
  67. You are the future of publishing
  68. Your words have value
  69. You are your own gatekeeper
  70. YOU are in control now
  71. YOU decide when your manuscript graduates to PUBLISHED BOOK
  72. Honor your readers
  73. Give readers great books that are as good or better than those released by Big Publishers(and do it faster with lower prices)
  74. The task before you is not easy, yet…
  75. The Opportunity to Reach Readers Has Never Been Greater
  76. Think Globally
  77. The market for your books outside the US will soon dwarf the US marketApple operates iBookstores in 32 countries. We distribute to Apple. In May 2012, ~45% of Smashwords Apple iBookstore Sales were Outside the US
  78. You Have the Tools to Reach a Worldwide Market Today The Tools are FREE
  79. Final Thoughts• Change brings opportunity• Writers are in charge now • Publishing is easy, professional publishing takes work • Readers, not publishers, control your destiny • Indie vs. Traditional is not an either/or decision. Some authors straddle both.• You are the future of publishing!
  80. 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)
  81. How to Publish and Distribute Your Book with Smashwords Useful LinksHow to Publish and Distribute an Ebook withSmashwords FAQ(This slide not included in RWA presentation)
  82. Thank you for considering the future! Q&AConnect with Mark Coker and Smashwords:Web: www.smashwords.comBlog: blog.smashwords.comLinkedIn: @markcoker