Saturday, May 28, 2011

Five sips of Indie Kool-Aid

One of the core themes of my inspirational guide The Indie Journey: Secrets To Writing Success is "Don't expect tomorrow to look like today." A lot of indie writers are making big decisions based on the expectation that the world will remain exactly the same, which is contrary to the experience of every one of us who have lived on this planet. Here are things that could and almost certainly will affect the indie future:

1. "I'll get 70 percent forever!" Yes, and those tech stocks in the 1990s just kept shooting through the roof, didn't they? The housing market of four years ago was unstoppable, too.

2. "There will be more and more markets in the future, so competition will keep retailers offering good terms." There will be one winner who basically sets the terms for everybody. Look at Apple for music and games apps if you need convincing.

3. "Library lending opens a whole new market!" Well, actually, it may CLOSE markets. If people can check out your ebook from home, and a library only needs one digital copy, you will be very lucky to get one sale per library. That's a lot of libraries, but also no reason for anyone ever to buy your book again from a retailer.

4. "Advertising will support ebooks so  companies will pay writers to be featured in their books." It's likely advertisers will pay retailers and distributors, not the authors. No one knows what this will look like, or how revenues will be split--or even if there will be writer revenues at all. Think of the YouTube music video where you sit through the 15-second ad first.

5. "So-and-so promised all indie authors will be rich." We usually hear what we want to hear. Lottery stories are cool. But the lottery is only cool because almost nobody wins it. Including you and me.

Mantra: Since the future will be different, why not be happy now and be prepared to be happy tomorrow?



L.J. Sellers said...

Excellent post. I treat my publishing company like a small business and the uncertainty in publishing makes it difficult to plan ahead. But I don't take anything for granted.

S.G.Royle said...

Agree with L.J., great post.

One thing that will not change anytime soon - people will still read fiction. Long after you and I don't have to worry about a thing, the written word will still be a major source of entertainment. People will want fresh, original, topical content. Stories that resonate with their lives, but carry them far from the reality of them. That content, the written word, comes from authors - and I'm nobody's b*tch :):

author Scott Nicholson said...



John Platt said...

#3 -- Actually, the way it works, each library *system* would only need one copy. But then, that's already the case: I can borrow any book from any library in Maine through inter-library loan, which improves availability, but lessens the need for each library to buy a copy. For many of the books I read, there might be one copy of in the entire Maine library system.

But here's the thing about digital library lending: again, you're competing against an entire system. The few times I've tried to borrow an e-book or MP3 audio book, I've been stuck in a long queue of people waiting to get the book. Library systems might buy more than one license so they can lend the books to more than one people at a time.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Makes sense, John--the way things CURRENTLY are. Depends on how the license is written. People already are mad that one of the Big Six only allows 26 total checkouts of a title. If the license allows for unlimited copies and unlimited checkouts, it could be as simple as logging into your library's web site and downloading whichever book you want. As I understand, most libraries load up devices and then you have to check out that device, but I am not sure how cohesive or consistent any of the policies are.

Nicholas La Salla said...

There's only so long you get before the party's over, so I say we'd better enjoy this while it lasts.

That being said, I think self-publishing will continue, and there will still be ways for the craftier authors to make money. It's like Whack-A-Mole -- you have to keep popping out of different holes.

Some of our greatest literary geniuses were first and foremost self published.

That being said, I'd like to make a few bucks before I'm good and dead, thank you very much. ;-)

Thanks for the insightful post Scott! Always good to hear your perspective.



One More Day: An Urban Ghost Story -- Kindle Nook
Three Before Dark: A Collection Of Horrifying Tales -- Kindle

Christopher Wills said...

Interesting post Scott. I agree nothing stays the same. The one thing that could promote change of some form is the fact that there are no gatekeepers (the fact many self pubbed authors enjoy) and so there is a lot of poor material being self published. Any ideas how this might play out?