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THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING




RWA Published Authors Network (PAN) keynote
               July 25, 2012

               Mark Coker
           Founder, Smashwords


            Twitter: @markcoker
Note to viewer: This presentation
was given on July 25, 2012 at RWA.
  I’ve made minor annotations to
capture some of the information that
      was conveyed verbally.


  Please share this presentation with fellow writers. Permission
granted to copy and share this presentation with anyone, provided
 it remains in its unaltered state, and the recipient is not charged
                         for the information.
I bring you a message


“a message of hope for those
 who choose to hear it, and
warning to those who do not”

~ Lyrics from Rosetta Stoned by Tool
My Backstory
My wife (fmr reporter for Soap Opera Weekly
magazine) and I wrote a novel about daytime
           television soap operas
We were repped by one of the top NY
         literary agencies
Publishers Said “No”

• Despite great efforts of our agent,
  every major publisher said NO
  (TWICE!)
I imagined hundreds of thousands of other
             writers like us


           Silenced
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
My Answer: Smashwords




• Ebooks + Open Publishing
 • Free ebook publishing tools
 • Distribution to major ebook stores

 • Promote publishing best-practices

 • Power to the author
Indie ebooks published at
                Smashwords

160000                                  141,000 +
140000
120000                           92,000
100000
 80000
 60000                  28,800
 40000          6,000
 20000    140
    0
         2008   2009    2010     2011     2012
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
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!
Enough about Smashwords.


Let’s talk about you, and the future of
              publishing
Let’s bust a dangerous myth
What myth should we bust?
The Myth of Big Publishing
You were taught to bow subservient before
       the altar of Big Publishing
… taught you weren’t an author until a
     publisher blessed you as such

… and until you were blessed, you were a
                 failure
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”
Publishers controlled Heaven

• Promised Perks of the Afterlife
 • editing
 • printing press
 • distribution
 • marketing
 • royalties
 • fame and respect
 • readers
 • “published author” inscribed
   on your tombstone
… and if you dared indulge in the carnal
    pleasures of self-publishing...
You were told to keep toiling and waiting.

              And waiting….

 … you’d get a deal when you sacrificed
enough of your soul like these other great
                writers…
Justin Bieber got a book deal
Snooki got a book deal
Kourtney, Kim and Khloe got a book deal
Stop

Don’t sell your soul
Q:
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WRITERS LOST
   FAITH IN THE RELIGION OF BIG
           PUBLISHING?
“GOD IS DEAD”
            Friedrich Nietzsche



 (Message: Institutions live and die based
on the trust, faith and confidence placed in
  them by the believers. Those of us who
stand between the author and reader must
  add value, otherwise we cease to exist.)
IS BIG PUBLISHING DEAD?
No, though it has lost its way


You will decide the fate of Big Publishing


You can help it find its way, if you choose
                 that path
WE LIVE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
BOOK PUBLISHING IS CAUGHT
IN THE TURBULENT CROSS CURRENTS OF
    MULTIPLE CONVERGING FORCES
TECHNOLOGY IS COLLIDING WITH BIG
          PUBLISHING


    (Notes: Technology is a catalyst for rapid
 evolution. Successful technology is that which
       satisfies human desires for greater
empowerment, 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. )
Here comes technology
Let’s examine the changes
FIVE TRENDS TO ROCK THE WORLD OF
            PUBLISHING

(notes: to prepare for the future, it’s more
 important you understand where you’re
heading, rather than when you’ll get there.
Here, I will share macro representations of
        where your world is headed
TREND ONE

Bookselling moving to the
          Web
Percentage of book purchases
made 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
TREND TWO:

Reading Moving to Screens
Screens are the new paper
Ebooks to overtake print




                       Ebooks




                      Print books
         Today?
Ebooks as a percentage of US
              wholesale trade market
  30

  25

  20

  15

  10

    5

    0
        2002        2004         2006         2008         2010         2012

Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012 Smashwords estimate
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
TREND THREE

The Rise of Ebook Self-Publishing
  (a.k.a indie ebook publishing)
Number of books published indie
        vs. traditional




                           Indie
                           books



                          New trad.
                            books



        Today?
Indie ebooks published at
                Smashwords
                                         141,000 +
160000                                  (July 2012)
140000
120000                         92,000 +
100000
 80000
 60000                  28,800
 40000          6,000
 20000    140
    0
         2008   2009    2010     2011     2012
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
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
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
TREND FOUR

 Content Explosion Leads to
Downward Pressure on Prices
Glut leads to price competition



               $4.25
                                     $3.15




    October 2010                March 2012
Average price of Smashwords ebooks
TREND FIVE

Publishers Losing Primacy
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?”
Stigmas to Flip?

  Aspire                          Aspire
Traditional                        Indie




Aspire
 Indie
                                    Aspire
                                  Traditional
   4 yrs ago Today?    Future?
What is Success?
The Success Flywheel
How Price and Royalty
  Impact Success
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
How Price Impacts Units Sold




A 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
What Price Yields Highest
       Earnings?
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
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
The Plan Forward for Romance Authors
The 5 Trends Create a Future that will…



         Benefit Indie Authors

Disadvantage Some Traditional Authors
You are the future of publishing
Your words have value
You are your own gatekeeper
YOU are in control now
YOU decide when your manuscript
 graduates to PUBLISHED BOOK
Honor your readers
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, yet…
The Opportunity to Reach Readers
     Has Never Been Greater
Think Globally
The market for your books outside the US
     will soon dwarf the US market


Apple operates iBookstores in 32 countries.
 We distribute to Apple. In May 2012, ~45%
  of Smashwords Apple iBookstore Sales
            were Outside the US
You Have the Tools to Reach a
  Worldwide Market Today


     The Tools are FREE
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!
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)
How to Publish and Distribute
   Your Book with Smashwords

               Useful Links

How to Publish and Distribute an Ebook with


Smashwords FAQ


(This slide not included in RWA presentation)
Thank you for considering the
                   future!

                    Q&A
Connect with Mark Coker and Smashwords:


Web: www.smashwords.com
Blog:    blog.smashwords.com
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcoker
Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker
HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker
Twitter: @markcoker

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The Future of Book Publishing

  • 1. THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING RWA Published Authors Network (PAN) keynote July 25, 2012 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  • 2. Note to viewer: This presentation was given on July 25, 2012 at RWA. I’ve made minor annotations to capture some of the information that was conveyed verbally. Please share this presentation with fellow writers. Permission granted 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, and warning to those who do not” ~ Lyrics from Rosetta Stoned by Tool
  • 5. My wife (fmr reporter for Soap Opera Weekly magazine) 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 Smashwords 160000 141,000 + 140000 120000 92,000 100000 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.
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19. What myth should we bust?
  • 20. The Myth of Big Publishing
  • 21. You were taught to bow subservient before the altar of Big Publishing
  • 22. … taught you weren’t an author until a publisher blessed you as such … and until you were blessed, you were a failure
  • 23. 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”
  • 24. Publishers controlled Heaven • Promised Perks of the Afterlife • editing • printing press • distribution • marketing • royalties • fame and respect • readers • “published author” inscribed on your tombstone
  • 25. … and if you dared indulge in the carnal pleasures of self-publishing...
  • 26. You were told to keep toiling and waiting. And waiting…. … you’d get a deal when you sacrificed enough of your soul like these other great writers…
  • 27. Justin Bieber got a book deal
  • 28. Snooki got a book deal
  • 29. Kourtney, Kim and Khloe got a book deal
  • 31. Q: WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WRITERS LOST FAITH IN THE RELIGION OF BIG PUBLISHING?
  • 32. “GOD IS DEAD” Friedrich Nietzsche (Message: Institutions live and die based on the trust, faith and confidence placed in them by the believers. Those of us who stand between the author and reader must add value, otherwise we cease to exist.)
  • 34. No, though it has lost its way You will decide the fate of Big Publishing You can help it find its way, if you choose that path
  • 35. WE LIVE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
  • 36. BOOK PUBLISHING IS CAUGHT IN THE TURBULENT CROSS CURRENTS OF MULTIPLE CONVERGING FORCES
  • 37. TECHNOLOGY IS COLLIDING WITH BIG PUBLISHING (Notes: Technology is a catalyst for rapid evolution. Successful technology is that which satisfies human desires for greater empowerment, 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. )
  • 40. FIVE TRENDS TO ROCK THE WORLD OF PUBLISHING (notes: to prepare for the future, it’s more important you understand where you’re heading, rather than when you’ll get there. Here, I will share macro representations of where your world is headed
  • 42. Percentage of book purchases made online vs B&M, Print and E- Web Brick & Mortar Today?
  • 43. 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
  • 45. Screens are the new paper
  • 46. Ebooks to overtake print Ebooks Print books Today?
  • 47. Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012 Smashwords estimate
  • 48. 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
  • 49. TREND THREE The Rise of Ebook Self-Publishing (a.k.a indie ebook publishing)
  • 50. Number of books published indie vs. traditional Indie books New trad. books Today?
  • 51. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 141,000 + 160000 (July 2012) 140000 120000 92,000 + 100000 80000 60000 28,800 40000 6,000 20000 140 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
  • 52. 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
  • 53. 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
  • 54. 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
  • 55. TREND FOUR Content Explosion Leads to Downward Pressure on Prices
  • 56. Glut leads to price competition $4.25 $3.15 October 2010 March 2012 Average price of Smashwords ebooks
  • 58. 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?”
  • 59. Stigmas to Flip? Aspire Aspire Traditional Indie Aspire Indie Aspire Traditional 4 yrs ago Today? Future?
  • 62. How Price and Royalty Impact Success
  • 63. 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
  • 64. How Price Impacts Units Sold A 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
  • 65. What Price Yields Highest Earnings?
  • 66. 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
  • 67. 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
  • 68. The Plan Forward for Romance Authors
  • 69. The 5 Trends Create a Future that will… Benefit Indie Authors Disadvantage Some Traditional Authors
  • 70. You are the future of publishing
  • 72. You are your own gatekeeper
  • 73. YOU are in control now
  • 74. YOU decide when your manuscript graduates to PUBLISHED BOOK
  • 76. Give readers great books that are as good or better than those released by Big Publishers (and do it faster with lower prices)
  • 77. The task before you is not easy, yet…
  • 78. The Opportunity to Reach Readers Has Never Been Greater
  • 80. The market for your books outside the US will soon dwarf the US market Apple operates iBookstores in 32 countries. We distribute to Apple. In May 2012, ~45% of Smashwords Apple iBookstore Sales were Outside the US
  • 81. You Have the Tools to Reach a Worldwide Market Today The Tools are FREE
  • 82. 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!
  • 83. 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)
  • 84. How to Publish and Distribute Your Book with Smashwords Useful Links How to Publish and Distribute an Ebook with Smashwords FAQ (This slide not included in RWA presentation)
  • 85. Thank you for considering the future! Q&A Connect with Mark Coker and Smashwords: Web: www.smashwords.com Blog: blog.smashwords.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Twitter: @markcoker