It’s becoming clear to me that the self-publishing revolution of five to ten years ago has hit some serious roadblocks. Many of the vanity press services have gone under, leaving authors with garages full of books and no customers. Many small presses — some for the benefit of single authors — some focused on a special category — some with progressive missions to share everything with everybody — have gone out of business. Many large presses have downsized, cut staff, and released rights for backlist or unsuccessful books. Even Barnes & Noble is about to downsize its store footprint (see below).
Why is all of this happening? Book sales are actually up! Very simply, the self-publishing boom is over. The reading consumer has figured out the difference between a self-published book and a professionally published book. They haven’t been buying the self-published books since late 2012. Self-published sales have gone the way of the declining ebook market.
What is selling? Regarding nonfiction, quality books on topics of interest continue to do well. Regarding fiction, quality books from known authors continue to sell well. Regardless of category, quality must come first — in editing, interior design, cover design, etc. Unfortunately, the vast majority of self-published books lacked these key components — and also lacked quality content. Readers have learned this and have been rejecting such books at an increasing rate. As we emerge from the rubble of this transformative era, like other times of transformation, opportunities abound. While others are waiting and hiding and biding their time, we will seize the opportunity to gain more territory. Here’s what’s in store for next year:
1) Growth through acquisition — we will be seeking to acquire other presses that are deciding to exit the business. If you know of any troubled entities where the owners are giving up, let me know. If they have quality content, we might be able to turn it around.
2) Growth through new authors — we will continue to sign new authors at our current rate. We are especially looking for authors who have had success in the past and who already have a backlist. Hopefully they have their rights returned to them. If you know anyone who has a number of publications that are looking for a new home, let me know.
3) Growth through our current authors — we will continue to develop our current list of authors, expanding your opportunities and properties. We will be focused on building our existing assets, as well as encouraging the development of new material.
At the foundation of this strategy is quality. As a decent-sized small press, we have the economies of scale to produce a professional level of quality at a much lower cost than if it was done individually. We will continue to maintain our high standards while we also seek more quality content.
Regarding nonfiction, we will continue to seek interesting material. Regarding fiction, we will seek quality content while also assisting in building the names and reputation of our authors.
Here’s to our growth and greater success in 2018 and beyond!