Ah, 2012 is coming to a close and the world did not end. The Mayans were wrong *shocked face* which kinda sucks because I was looking forward to not having to clean out the garage after all. But, in keeping with tradition, I am going to make my predictions for the coming year. Using a
magic eight-ball and alcohol a highly scientific method, I will postulate what I believe will happen in the publishing world in the next 12 months.
Yes, I am posting this blog on a Saturday. Gives us time for a healthy (and courteous) debate before the ball drops. That and I plan on sleeping most of Monday and Tuesday before I have to go back to being an adult :P.
So what’s in store for 2013? I have a lot of predictions, but you guys only have so much time, so we will only hit the big ones.
2013 and Traditional Publishing
Too little too late. Sorry. I believe that traditional publishing has maybe another five years, but lot of the implosion will be seen this year. They could have been AT&T, but they made choices that doomed them to be MCI or Sprint if they are lucky.
Before anyone gets mad at me, I am very sad about this. Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time, know that I was rooting for NY to get with the changing paradigm and remain a viable force. The problem is multifaceted, but here is some of what I believe we will see in 2013 (and I will pick on the indies equally later in the post):
a) Too Much Overhead Catches Up
Traditional publishing is centered in the beating heart of Manhattan, which would be great if that wasn’t some of the priciest real estate in the world. NY publishing is carrying a crap load of overhead their competition doesn’t have. There are high rents, salaries, and electric bills all being 1) factored into the price of the book and 2) taken out of the author’s pocket.
This wasn’t an issue so long as digital publishing was in its infancy and there were no other viable options for authors. Unfortunately for NY, now there are other options and these options are leaner, meaner, and faster. This means that consumers get good books cheaper and the writers get paid better (and faster). This all adds up for a WIN for authors and consumers, but NY is finding itself less and less competitive. The market is in a recession and most consumers cannot justify $24 for a hard cover book, when they can get digital books for $4.99.
Expect traditional publishing to continue to merge, shrink and downsize. We saw the Big Six go to the Big Five to the Not Too Shabby Four in the span of six weeks. This trend will continue. It has to for them to have any hope of taking on Amazon.
Again, this all reminds me of all the little phone companies back in the 90s that eventually all folded against the onslaught of AT&T. Who remembers MCI? Anyone?
To take on a giant, NY will need to become a giant. I mentioned this type of consolidation in my July post Big Six Publishing is Dead—Welcome the Massive Three.
b) Hemorrhaging the Mid-List
Mid-list authors have always been where traditional publishing groomed the next mega author. The mega authors are who help pay the bills. Yet, mid-list authors have had a heck of a time even making a living. I have met NYTBSAs who still weren’t making enough money to write full-time.
These types of authors are already accustomed to being very self-sufficient, expecting very little support from NY. These authors blog, tweet, run contests, have a social platform, and do everything an indie author does…except make money. As I have said before, writers are bad at math, but we aren’t that bad. Hungry small presses are going after these authors and luring them away, leaving NY with less and less emerging talent.
c) Bookstores are Losing Power
Bookstores have light bills, rent, and employees to pay. Yes, we will still have bookstores, just not on every corner. NY’s ability to get an author into bookstores was one of its aces in the hole, but now that ace doesn’t go as far as it used to. Authors are making six and seven figures selling indie and on-line. Sure, we writers would love to see our books at a Barnes & Noble, but most of us would trade that warm fuzzy for the ability to actually make money.
Also as more talent goes indie (Barry Eisler, Bob Mayer, Joe Konrath) and more true indie authors gain huge followings (Theresa Ragan, Aaron Patterson), bookstores will become increasingly friendly to those who are not traditionally published, because, again, money talks. Bookstores want to stock books that sell, so eventually they won’t be as picky. Also, as better writers emerge from the indie ranks, the stigma of self-publishing will grow fainter until it disappears.
I see more bookstores closing and being replaced by machines like these (image below). Yeah, Blockbuster thought people would always want to browse a video store, and they were wrong, too. For more about this, I recommend my post The WANA Plan to Save Bookstores and Revive Publishing. I think kiosks like these and creative independent bookstores (with Espresso Machines) will pick up traction in the new paradigm.
d) Partnering with Crooks
I’ve been on the bandwagon for traditional publishing to open divisions for self-publishing for YEARS, and, because I don’t believe in criticizing without offering solutions, I even offered a plan to do it in such a way that it would not tarnish their brand. NY apparently has been hesitant to enter the emerging market in self-publishing out of concern for their brand. That is a viable argument and I can definitely appreciate their reticence.
But then Simon & Schuster partners with
Jimmy the Tire Iron AUTHOR HOUSE? This company has a long history of ripping authors off, and it doesn’t look like much has changed. According to a recent New York Times article about the new partnership:
Authors can buy packages ranging from $1,599 for the least expensive children’s package, to $24,999 for the most expensive business book package.
All I have to ask is, “What are these people smoking?”
Any author who’s taken more than a minute to do her homework knows those prices are RIDICULOUS. That might have been competitive pricing…in 1994! Now? This is just…just…insulting.
Author House has a long history of complaints, so I find it interesting that traditional publishing would not delve into self-publishing because it was worried about tarnishing its brand, but once it finally decides to join the 21st century, it partners with AUTHOR HOUSE.
Writers, do your homework! Come join WANATribe. Make an educated decision about your career. If you want to be traditionally published, do so, but do it for the right reasons and be informed. WANATribe has plenty of professionals who can offer sound guidance.
Those of you who want to self-publish or go indie, we also have all kinds of tribes dedicated to indie and self-publishing. Network with people who know the ropes and who can mentor you about all your options. The cool thing about indie authors is we are all about the love. We are not alone! Most indies are generous with time and advice. There is no reason you can’t have a professionally edited book that is designed beautifully with a cover as good as anything out of NY for a fraction of that $25,000 dollars.
For further analysis about the problems traditional publishing is facing, read Bracing for Impact—The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm and An Industry on the Brink—5 Mistakes that are KILLING Traditional Publishing.
2013 and Indie Publishing
Meets the Threshing Floor
I feel we are going through a time which is very similar to the dot.com boom in the 90s. Everyone suddenly was a dot.com, but most were paper giants. Time weeded out the weak, and the same thing will happen here.
We have seen an explosion of indie publishers in the past two years. Everyone is a publisher. Like the dot.coms, a lot of these “publishers” won’t last. Too many people think being a publisher is easy, or they are in this business to make a quick buck. Yet, being a publisher is A TON of work and requires a certain level of commitment, education, capital and sweat equity.
Human nature dictates that most will quit in the next year.
As better books emerge out of the indie ranks, the competition will grow steeper. Sure, two years ago people were downloading all kinds of FREE! books and .99 books, but consumers have grown tired of downloading crap they never read. Gatekeepers exist for a reason, and throwing out a bunch of cheap books no longer works as well when everyone does it. The good news is that consumers are willing to pay more for e-books, but the bad news is that people won’t just download anything these days. Writers will have to write better books and be active on social media creating relationships.
As far as 2013, I don’t see the number of indie publishers shrinking. If anything, we might have even MORE of these publishers. As some close, new ones will quickly fill the vacuum. But, we will see a trend toward consumers not just buying anything, and this will bankrupt/discourage those who thought their fortunes would be made .99 at a time.
The Strong Will Survive…then Start Recruiting
Those indie publishers who rise to the top will be on the lookout for new talent. I predict that they will go after mid-list authors and make them offers they can’t refuse. These publishers will also be on the lookout for authors with extensive back-lists. Old books will be given new life and writers who were barely scraping out a living will now be able to enjoy new fruits of their labors, as in ALL of them.
Traditional publishing continues to grab up author’s rights to back-lists…only to sit on them and do nothing. This only makes authors even more willing to defect, and frankly, can we blame them?
Scams Will Abound for the Foolish
Do your homework. Author House is a racket, but it ain’t the only racket in town. I see all kinds of new services popping up to help new writers…as in help themselves to a bunch of your cash. Ripoff publishers, scammy social media “gurus”, PR phoneys, and fake “editors” will be popping up everywhere.
These days, with the Internet, there is no reason to be taken for a ride. Vet people first. Ask around for recommendations. Part of why I created WANA International is so that you guys could have access to the best services from legitimate sources. Being a writer is stressful enough without worrying about being conned.
2013 and Amazon
E-Books Go Mainstream
Amazon reported record sales of the Kindle Fire this Christmas. Tablet sales have exploded and as the price point drops, this trend is likely to continue. Remember, cell phones were once considered a luxury item, too. Digital reading devices crossed from the Early Adopters into the Early Majority this year (as I predicted this past summer) on the Diffusion of Innovations Curve. This means the fat part of the bell curve owns or wants to own one of these devices. This is AWESOME news for writers, in that people who normally would not consider themselves readers are now buying books.
Every publishing mega-success has been created by the fat part of the bell curve falling in love with a book or author.
J.K. Rowling became a billionaire selling books to people who normally don’t read. The fact that the fat part of the bell curve is now plugged in and looking for good books is SUPER exciting.
E-Readers are now going mainstream. Even my 87-year-old grandfather asked for a Kindle Fire for his birthday. He loves the convenience (not so easy to browse a bookstore when you’re almost 90) and he also loves that he can make the font larger. Baby Boomers are older, have more time, more disposable income, and are becoming more and more tech-savvy as interfaces become more user-friendly.
Amazon banked on e-readers becoming a staple item and that gamble has paid off.
Amazon Will Get Into the Brick and Mortar Business
Amazon has become a name to be feared when it comes to e-commerce, but there are still limitations to selling on-line. Also, in my opinion, Amazon Publishing is the woman in the red dress who finally wants a ring. She wants to be legit, and the only way to do this is to have a physical presence in a bookstore. Back in the summer, I predicted that Amazon would get into the brick-and-mortar biz.
The age of bookstores all selling the same books is over. Amazon has a wealth of new talent along with a treasure trove of back-list to offer. I feel Amazon redefined publishing in the Digital Age, and they will also reinvent the bookstore. Give us a B. Dalton for the 21st century. I feel they will learn from the mistakes of their competition and bring a leaner, meaner bookstore to consumers. This physical space is ideal for selling their Kindle Fire and for taking on Apple.
This is all good news for consumers and authors, but there are dangers with Amazon. Amazon is NOT a panacea. For more about this, read Amazon–Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.
Amazon Will Move More into Being a “Legitimate” Publisher
Amazon wanted NY to burn, but namely so it could take the Big Six’s place. This trend will continue and Amazon will keep signing bigger and bigger names. The traditional publishers have cut the size of their sales force, have radically cut author advances and they are taking on fewer new authors. Thing is, agents need to eat, too. Thus, I believe that agents will become more open to pursuing non-traditional publishing paths for their clients, which means Amazon wins.
2013 and Authors
Good Times Ahead
More readers, more options, and better pay. Sure there is more work, but suck it up, Buttercup. We all want to “Just write” but that isn’t reality and it really never has been. Authors who “just wrote” historically had a 93% failure rate (according to BEA statistics). Nowadays we have a lot better odds of success. Great writing combined with a solid work ethic is a ticket to being able to do what we love…and get PAID.
Writers—More of Them
This new explosion of self-published authors will continue. It is estimated that 75% of all Americans believe they want to write a book, and now they are doing it. The new paradigm makes it possible for all writers to share the stories they have inside of them. The downside is that “inside” is exactly where a lot of these books should remain, sealed behind some Aztec seal foretelling doom if opened. To be blunt, a lot of amateurs are entering the market with no clue how to write a novel. For more about this, I recommend my post, Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors.
WARNING!!! Bad Books Ahead
Just because we have command of our native tongue in no way means we possess the skill to craft a work spanning 60-100,000+ words. It is shocking to me how many writers publish their books, but they can’t even define “antagonist” or “POV.” There are a lot of people interested in shortcuts these days, and unfortunately they are dumping countless bad books in the laps of consumers. Terrible writing, no understanding of narrative structure or POV, poor formatting, major typos, grammar issues, the list goes on. The poor reader has been handed the slush pile.
This deluge of bad books will necessitate the rise of new gatekeepers. In the face of sock puppets, phoney reviews, endless spam, and fake recommendations, we need some form of a legitimate resource to act as a guide in this information glut. Book bloggers and authentic social media word of mouth helps, but the need for effective gate-keeping grows by the day.
I feel that the growing indie presses will help. Eventually readers will catch on to what presses offer quality books and they will stick to favorite presses and favorite authors like glue. Thus in 2013, I see the successful small indie presses enjoying more success simply because consumers are using them as gatekeepers.
Surge in New Types of Writing
In the new paradigm, we will see a surge in works that traditionally could not be published due to the depressing ROI (return on investment). We will see more short stories, novellas, books of poems, memoirs, screenplays, etc. We will also see the creation of new genres, such as fiction targeted specifically to Baby Boomers (I have seen this recently and it is brilliant). Instead of YA, BBA.
Additionally, the technology affords us the ability to offer books of different ratings. Say I write a romantic thriller that has lots of cursing and sex and is easily an NC-17. I can offer that book to an adult market, but I can easily create a PG-13 version. Do a word search for profanity and edit it out. Instead of hard core sex scenes, do a “cut-to.” Now my fans can read the version they feel most comfortable reading. Also, if they like the book, they can feel good about sharing the story with teenage children.
The technology allows books to be longer, offer a “director’s cut” and even offer up alternate endings. Technology offers a lot of creative ways to get our product to consumers the way they want to have it.
2013—The Year of the Writer
Overall this is an AMAZING time to be a writer. Writers aren’t all the same, so why should our career path be the same? We all have different goals, different works, different dreams and finally we have a paradigm that is favorable to our kind. Our kind has been telling stories and teaching since humans huddled in caves, but now we are finally being rewarded for our hard work.
In 2013, we will see an emerging “creative middle class” as the old paradigm fades away. In the old days, a handful of creative aristocrats held most of the wealth while the “creative majority” lived a starving life of artistic serfdom. That is going away.
There are good things ahead. The world is uncertain. The world is scary. But, just remember…
We are not alone.
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Why? I don’t mind people disagreeing with me so long as you are polite :D. Remember, guessing is NOT science. What are your predictions? What did I miss?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of December I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
#1 by Lori L. Clark on December 29, 2012 - 3:15 pm
I agree wholeheartedly with this: Too little too late. Sorry. I believe that traditional publishing has maybe another five years, but lot of the implosion will be seen this year.
There are a lot of really talented authors out there who have written amazing books that for one reason or another have not been able to acquire an agent and/or get traditionally published. Some of them simply opted not to go that route. They are being discovered and their ebooks are selling like hotcakes and who profits from this? The author!
Granted, not everything that is self published is great, or even good, but much of it is and going forward, I feel like it is only going to get better.
I was a hold-out for a long time. I cursed Kindle and Nook and all electronic books, blaming them for the downfall of my beloved corner Border’s. Now? If I can’t get a book electronically in 2 seconds on my Kindle? I’m a LOT less inclined to even bother reading it. I’m a late to the game convert, but convert, I did.
Here’s to the future!
#2 by IdealisticRebel on December 29, 2012 - 3:16 pm
I believe that sad and heartbreaking as this is, what you say is correct. I write and I read a lot. I love to hold a book, to feel the texture of the pages against my fingers, I love that almost inaudible sound of a page turning. I love the smell of books and the way they feel when I hold them in my arms. It is like a love affair, but I do own a Kindle and most of my books I buy from Kindle. It is easier to fly with a kindle than to deal with the weight of 3 or 4 books when flying. I love that I can easily hold it and when I am sick, it will read to me. Books are a sensual experience with words. Digital books are convenient and cheaper to buy. Especially, if you buy 5 or 6 at a time.So I sadly agree with you, but I wish it wasnt so.
#3 by amyshojai on December 29, 2012 - 3:18 pm
Another prediction. By mid- to late-2013, nonfiction books (especially illustrated publications with awesome graphics) will begin to get even better sales traction due to the color tablets and improved visuals. I also predict audio books will become the new “indie gold rush” due to Audible and (another prediction!) copycat-Audible-DIY venues.
#4 by amyshojai on December 29, 2012 - 3:19 pm
…and graphic novels will explode. Virtually…well, and maybe literally too. 😛
#5 by stephaniequeen on December 30, 2012 - 1:28 am
I adore audiobooks and agree that audiobooks are the new ebooks for the coming year!
#6 by Terry Kate on December 30, 2012 - 9:13 am
As someone who works in audio books – and shameless plug – even teaches a class about it for WANA, I am hesitantly optimistic. Though I think it is a great move – smaller pool of options and new readers/listeners to catch.
I think one of the issues here is going to be quality of production. They have opened the door a lot with ACX, but since the audio book world is new to a lot of the actors and producers as well as the authors there seems to be a number of pitfalls to look out for.
In the next year or two that will iron out and if Audible pushes hard – maybe lowers prices a little I agree. They could be the next e-book.
#7 by cloverautrey on December 29, 2012 - 3:18 pm
Kristen, I love your optimism. I’m having the best time of my writing career and am so excited for 2013. This just doubles the excitement.
#8 by IdealisticRebel on December 29, 2012 - 3:20 pm
Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
Change is coming to readers and I have mixed feelings.
#9 by prudencemacleod on December 29, 2012 - 3:23 pm
Kristen, I do like your new world vision. All I can say is bring it on. May this be a stellar year for you and yours as well.
#10 by darcyflynn on December 29, 2012 - 3:23 pm
Wow! I somehow feel set free! 🙂 thank you for this thought provoking post!
Have a Happy and Blessed New Year, Kristen!
#11 by authorleannedyck on December 29, 2012 - 3:24 pm
Those who work on their craft will succeed. Who wouldn’t love your predictions, Kristen? : )
#12 by Karen Rought on December 29, 2012 - 3:26 pm
I always love reading your predictions about the world of publishing and writing. I’m still quite new to all of this, and you always lay it out in a way that is understandable, as well as honest and hopeful! I hope you’re right for all of our sakes. And thanks for being such a wonderful resource to all of us writers!!
#13 by Cathryn Cade on December 29, 2012 - 3:30 pm
I’m thrilled to see this post, because not only am I excited by your predictions, I agree with them. We’ve heard other predictions, but some have been cynical and some rooted in pure salesmanship.
Woot! What a great time to be a romance writer who is with one of the reputable small presses AND revving up to self-pub in 2013. My readers also say they use the publishers as gate-keepers, and then follow authors to their back-lists.
So I’ll continue to hone my craft, stay with my publisher, and do some of my own pubbing–with the help of strong editors, cover artists, and formatters. I don’t have the time to do it all, and I know some young, hungry business people who are glad to work with indie authors.
Thanks for the encouragement and support you provide and facilitate for all of us.
Happy New Year, it’s gonna be a great one,
… red hot romance!
Goodreads, My Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, My Blog,
And sign up for My Newsletter for a chance to win goodies
#14 by Jess Witkins on December 29, 2012 - 3:31 pm
I love this post and think you are so spot on with your predictions. It’ll be really interesting just to see what panels and advice is given at DFW next year. Especially from those in traditioning publishing. Perhaps the divide b/t those who are for social media and those who think it’s a “take it or leave it” trend won’t be so divided now. And if Amazon does go the mortar and brick route I can’t wait to shop there! How cool if they open up their doors for new/Indie authors to all come in for a book reading/signing day?! I’m going to dream about that.
#15 by renée a. schuls-jacobson on December 29, 2012 - 4:04 pm
Oooh! Jess! I love that idea about having an Amazon indie-signing day!
#16 by Michel King on December 29, 2012 - 3:42 pm
You know, I am plugged into WANA Tribe, and I am on Facebook and Twitter, and I have done HOURS of research, but still have this horrible nagging fear because of this flux in the industry. While I do want to be published, and preferably sooner rather than later, it is mildly terrifying to not know where the safest bet lies for someone like me who has a hard time talking to anyone unless empowered by liquid courage or with a solid half hour to structure my email response as elloquently as possible. Not to mention the run-on sentences I am prone to. LOL
My question in response to this post is, do you see more authors holding off until the industry levels off? Or, do you see them all diving into the deep end enthusiastically? And, why?
(Also, I should mention that the major reason I am asking is to see if I should stop being a massive chicken, or if my caution is well warrented). LOL
#17 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 29, 2012 - 3:50 pm
A lot will depend on the personality of the author. You will have the Early Adopters who dive in headlong and you will also have the late majority who waits and sees what shakes out. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. One has a higher return, but higher risk. The other has a lower return, but is safer. This is why it is critical to be informed and choose the path best for you, your skills, your experience, your capital, your goals. We are no longer in a One Size MUST Fit ALL world.
I wish I could take your fear away, but great things happen OUTSIDE our comfort zone. But at least you aren’t alone :D. WANA International, WANA Commons and WANATribe are all tremendous resources to help you along the way. Good luck in 2013!
#18 by Michel King on December 29, 2012 - 8:51 pm
I know. (Insert slight pout, hands in pokets, and ground nudging toe here)
Comfort zones are just so… comfortable. LOL BUT, I know that to succeed will require a massive shove out of my “Stalling Stella” mindset. It may not be profitable to stall, but it “feels” safer than diving into something unknown. Crazy how the mind does that, isn’t it?
Thank you for the support and clarification. I think I may need to get a little better connected to WANA. I can’t be the only person clucking right now. LOL
#19 by Widdershins on December 29, 2012 - 4:30 pm
Hiya Mitchel … I’m planning on jumping in the deep end this year … erm, 2013, that is … expressly because of this SOF. (State of Flux)
With the base understanding that I’ve crafted the best product I can, what’s the worst thing that can happen?
No-one buys my work.
No-one dies from that. (unless they quit their day job and hoped to live high on the hog from their royalties!)
We retreat for a while and lick our wounds, then we try again. Somewhere else, something different. Because there are so many options to choose from at this particular point in Time.
#20 by Michel King on December 29, 2012 - 8:45 pm
LOL I know, right? “But someone said they didn’t like it! Wwwaaaahhh!!” LOL I’m only laughing because it does hurt just a little when no-one bites. But, you are absolutely correct. If no-one buys the work it is not the end of the world.
I think part of the problem, at least on my end, is that there are SO many choices available so it is confusing and a bit bewildering. Awesomely inspiring and empowering, but also a bit scary. AH!
I think in the end I will have to take a chance and run as far and as fast as I can, because I am one of those stallers. Too afraid to fail or succeed that I end up stalling indeffinitely. Horrible, I know.
Thank you for your enthusiasm. It does help to know there are people who aren’t as chicken as I am (though really that’s not all that hard to accomplish, lol)! XD
#21 by Widdershins on December 30, 2012 - 12:59 am
Just so you know, I’m also quaking in my boots at the thought of it!
#22 by Pauline Baird Jones on December 30, 2012 - 10:53 am
I blogged last May about fear, and sort of about writing. The main point is that it FEELS life threatening, but it’s not. 🙂
Here is the link in case you’re interested: http://www.paulinebjones.com/BlogWP/dancing-with-fear
It’s a blog post about an essay I read many years ago, and dig out when fear drags at my wings. 🙂
#23 by colonialist on December 29, 2012 - 3:44 pm
This post should be a must on every writer’s reading list. You have set out the issues logically and compellingly.
I wish there were PR people who would take the challenge of providing a win/win service for good writers of ‘getting them out there’ on some sort of commission on sales basis. Like all writers I want to spend more time on writing my novels and far less on promotion.
I’m glad I have been going into the Kindle scene with mine, but I still fear most books are overpriced for download. Perhaps Amazon overheads on the eBook side are higher than one realises?
#24 by renée a. schuls-jacobson on December 29, 2012 - 3:55 pm
Kristen: You know when I decide to publish I will already know I plan to go Indie with lots of WANA-love. That said, I am sad that the book market is going to be inundated by low-quality books. I’ve read quite a few in the last few months, and I feel a little dismayed that there is no reliable gatekeeper anymore. The best thing about the publishing industry imploding is that currently there is no reliable quality control. The worst thing about the same industry imploding is that there is no reliable quality control. I guess reviews from our friends and readers will become increasingly important. But then word of mouth has always been powerful. Great post. And happy new year. I’m looking forward to working with you this year.
#25 by Paige Kellerman on December 29, 2012 - 10:21 pm
I feel the same way, Renee. I tend to scan Goodreads now, and go with what gets the best reviews,before I buy. This has minimized disappointment a great deal. Book bloggers and book sites will be booming in the next year.
#26 by makergoddess on December 29, 2012 - 4:12 pm
With your optimistic predictions for writers, I am confident that now is certainly the time for me to consider changing fields. I may be of the age to retire from my first career, but not having started it until much later in life, I do not have the invested years. I am at a crossroads, really. Continue on another 10+ years to full retirement investment, or take the leap now onto another path?
The siren song calling me down that other path is even louder now. Thank you for helping me see that it really is going to be a great year to become a professional writer!
Happy New Year!
#27 by Roxanne Crouse on December 29, 2012 - 4:33 pm
Reblogged this on So Much To Write, So Little Time and commented:
Some great info here about the future. Can’t wait to see what Amazon comes up with next.
#28 by roguemutt on December 29, 2012 - 4:45 pm
I tend not to be too optimistic. I’ve had two small published books this year and neither one is selling jack because it’s harder than ever to get anyone to notice anything. Sure you can blog and Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest–so’s everyone else! In the end though I’m sure all of the biggest sellers are still part of the Big–however many it is now because they have the reach.
#29 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 29, 2012 - 5:12 pm
Keep writing books. You will hit the tipping point faster with more titles. Once people discover your books and like them, they will buy anything you write. It is VERY competitive, but that was why I wanted writers to start building social platforms 5 years ago. But, unlike the old paradigm, you don’t get pulled after a month because your titles aren’t selling. You can keep writing. It generally takes about three titles minimum, so you are almost there :D.
#30 by ooplalund on December 29, 2012 - 4:59 pm
This post is amazing…and informative..and sad. I guess there is that magical element of the NY publishing scene that is this beautiful fantasy, its horrible to think of it differently. A change is gonna come, I guess.
#31 by Pauline Baird Jones on December 29, 2012 - 5:33 pm
I have to agree, this is a GREAT time to be a writer. I came into this business in the middle 1990’s and it was SO discouraging to realize you could do a good job and not get anywhere, because you didn’t write to “market.” Or catch an agent or editor’s eye. We have CHOICES and it is amazing! I love it! Yes, it is very hard, but wow. I just started working with ACX to get my back list into audio book and they sold well over the holidays! Money that comes directly to me! I love, love, love it! And if Amazon gets too big for its britches, who doesn’t think there is a “little guy” out there eager to take them down? Just like Amazon did? Bring it!
#32 by Terry Kate on December 29, 2012 - 7:10 pm
Is that so Pauline… Hmmm… Anyone give you that nudge? 🙂
As a reader and consumer I am seeing some different trends but diversifying is key. Looking to audio, multimedia, anything that can pull in money and engage readers.
Great point to raise Ms. Jones.
– Terry Kate
#33 by Pauline Baird Jones on December 30, 2012 - 10:17 am
LOLOL! Yes, you did, Terry and thank you VERY much! I’m about to approve another one this morning! And yes, it is very key to maximize every sales channel you can find. 🙂
#34 by kimterry on December 29, 2012 - 6:09 pm
Wow! Kristen, this post covers all the bases. Great job!
#35 by Ann Foweraker on December 29, 2012 - 6:36 pm
Go Kristen! Love your idea of a category BBA – this is where I have been writing for years – but was told that protags in their 40s and 50s (and older) were not what people wanted to read about – but the baby boomers do! Can’t wait for that ‘genre’ to go up so I can slot my novels in there!
#36 by SweetSong on December 29, 2012 - 6:37 pm
Another amazing post! I’ve just finished my second manuscript, and I’m just starting to look into publishing. I was leaning towards the more traditional route, but you may have convinced me otherwise. A lot of what you said makes sense. I have a lot more research to do, but this was super helpful!
#37 by Diana Stevan on December 29, 2012 - 6:42 pm
Thank you for the year-end overview. I love how you summarized where the traditional Big Six have ended up and the promise of the future. I’m also heartened that readers are becoming pickier. I was afraid that they’d disappear with all the crap out there. But then again, I haven’t given up reading after trying some free giveaways. I’ve just become way more discerning.
#38 by Rio on December 29, 2012 - 6:52 pm
Great post Kristen! Thanks!
#39 by Maria Cisneros Toth on December 29, 2012 - 6:54 pm
Just got home from critique where we touched on several of these topics, so I will be forwarding this post to our writerly gang! In the 10 years our group has been together, today was one of our BEST meetings ever! Our topic, marketing/social media/2013 goals. And then I come home to this awesome post…well, all I can say is a big THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge with us. I truly appreciate it!
I also enjoyed reading everyone’s comments! 🙂
#40 by Diana Beebe on December 29, 2012 - 6:59 pm
I love your perspective on all this. It gives me comfort and terrifies me all at the same time. Strangely, I’m OK with that. Thank you! 🙂
#41 by andykuiper on December 29, 2012 - 7:09 pm
What an interesting post Kristen 🙂 I looked up you book on Amazon and it has a 5 star rating with 36 reviews! – it is now on my list of books to read… thanks again 🙂
#42 by Marvin Mayer on December 29, 2012 - 7:09 pm
Kristen, this is a really interesting and thought provoking view of what the industry will look like in 2013 and beyond. I never cease to be amazed at how thoroughly you seem to have researched your material. Thanks for all you do for us WANAs and have a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
#43 by Karen W on December 29, 2012 - 7:27 pm
Reblogged this on Don't Stop Believing and commented:
Great post Kristen and insightful as usual. It’s scary that more big changes are on the way. But then change is always scary.
#44 by Adam S on December 29, 2012 - 7:49 pm
This is my first time reading and joining in on one of your discussions. I just recently ran across you via Twitter. Glad I did. Great article.
I know *zero* when it comes to publishing/self-publishing, or anything on the business end. I’m a blogger, so I won’t spew off about things outside my area of expertise. However, I’m fascinated with psychological/sociological/societal trends, and this seems to be a HUGE one. I’d like to offer up my perspective on this evolution toward tablet reading.
You brought up some great points, and I’m surprised that you didn’t mention anything about how technology contributes to shortened attention spans. Reading a hard cover book away from distractions means more engagement from the reader, and for a longer period of time. With a traditional book, there are no distractions that a tablet offers — internet accessibility, Angry Birds, etc…
I think the novel market will shrink significantly over time. Imagine this: “what’s a hard cover book?” You’ll hear that question in your lifetime. It’s coming, and coming quickly. The trend from paper to plastic-reading will contribute to the growing pile of traditions that we’ve watched dissolve over the past couple of decades. All because of technology.
Think about the idea of having to wait for a dial up connection to be established before browsing, today. It’s laughable. Or what about having to wait 5+ seconds for an internet page to load?Phones/Skype/IM has led to less face to face interaction, and even a decline in social skills. It’s debatable, I guess.
To me, the future calls for “non-traditional”. In order to sell in the future, I think our writing is going to have to appeal to the “new reader”. I think it would be wise to be mindful of this. I’m not an advocate of reading less. I just can’t help but notice the trend.
What are your thoughts? (Sorry, I should have just wrote a blog entry. Doh.)
#45 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 29, 2012 - 8:32 pm
Actually I address these very changes in my new book that I’m finishing this month (Lord willing). We are experiencing a MAJOR shift not seen since the invention of the Gutenberg press. Exciting times ahead :D. I do think attention spans are growing shorter, but I don’t think that will necessarily affect the length of what readers demand. High Fantasy (which is seriously LONG) is being revitalized now that paper and page count is no longer an issue/price constraint. Three words—GAME OF THRONES. I do think that people will want more series and longer series. I think that writers will have to get better at hooking early. No spending 100 pages to get interesting. We are going to have to hook readers by the end of the sample or GAME OVER.
While we do have increasing amounts of ADD, we also have an increasing need to escape being “plugged in” non-stop. I do feel short works will be welcomed. It is one of the reasons I encourage authors to blog. But strangely I think we will see an upsurge in LONG works, namely because font and portability. I know I LOVE high fantasy but had stopped reading the genre entirely because the font had to be so small in the paper paradigm. By the time I got a copy with big enough font to not make my eyes bleed, it weighed a ton.
Oddly enough I feel that good stories with great characters will find a home, no matter the length. Again, it is a great time to be a writer :D.
#46 by Adam S on December 29, 2012 - 11:45 pm
We’ll do lunch and debate further. McDonald’s sound good?
All kidding aside, thanks for the thoughtful response. I’m intrigued by this book that you speak of…
#47 by pigeonweather on December 29, 2012 - 7:54 pm
Lots of interesting thoughts here, thanks. I’m not so sure about the weeding out, though. This is still the beginning of a mythical gold rush, seems to me, and pioneers are still rushing in. I do agree the field will thin out eventually, but this year feels too soon. Just my own guess.
#48 by K.B. Owen on December 29, 2012 - 8:01 pm
Kristen, this post makes me feel excited/overwhelmed/apprehensive/optimistic – all at the same time. It’s a timely one for me. I’m a few weeks out from self-pubbing book #1, while revising book #2 and starting to plan book #3. What a crazy business.
Wishing you the best in 2013 – thanks for everything!
#49 by Susan J on December 29, 2012 - 8:03 pm
I especially like the insight into how digital publishing is not only making books more accessible/affordable and profitable, but is opening the door for a change in how they may be written, such as with multiple endings or various rating levels of the same story.
I’m totally new to the publishing information, and a bit daunted by learning as it’s evolving, but I so appreciate the insight from your observations and predictions.
And yes, I love paper books, even collecting antique books, but the last 4 out of 5 I’ve read have been on my phone, via iBooks or my Kindle app. Just hard to beat for convenience.
#50 by Suzette Martinez Standring on December 29, 2012 - 8:21 pm
Fantastic piece. You’re a wonderful Sherpa on the long trek.
#51 by manningtreearchive on December 29, 2012 - 8:41 pm
Your post is timely and amazing. I own a good number f books and love to hold one while I read. But sadly things are not going to be same anymore, though I would welcome the change.
#52 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 29, 2012 - 9:19 pm
Actually I think paper will remain, but there will be a shift to POD. There is no sense printing a bunch of books that will just go through a shredder. If we really LOVE the paper book, then we should also LOVE the new paradigm. We can have e-book OR print or BOTH without the waste.
#53 by Yvette Carol on December 29, 2012 - 8:48 pm
Thank you Kristen, for bravely looking ahead! You did such a good job. Yes, I have a feeling you may be right on many scores with your predictions too.
#54 by billgncs on December 29, 2012 - 8:54 pm
you’re right – at times of transition nimble players can make their fortune. As an IT person through the “internet” and Y2k, crises does mean opportunity.
#55 by M.L. Guida on December 29, 2012 - 10:04 pm
Hi Kristen, I agree with your predictions and believe there are many opportunities for writers in this new era. I have to admit I do like doing book signings so I can meet readers face to face. Social media is great, but I like the personal touch as well.
#56 by MonaKarel on December 29, 2012 - 10:35 pm
A trad published friend has been offered another great contract but I think she’s in the minority…and also think she’d do even better on her own. But the security has to be hard to walk away from. Me, I’ve got two books out now, like others not selling super well but my blog picks up more followers every post, ditto with Twitter. Write another book, write a better book, and stay in love with the process. I’m amazed at the number of semi successful writers who whine about how HARD it is. Try working nights at Denny’s for a few months!
What a great start to our new and exciting years.
#57 by katbiggie on December 29, 2012 - 11:02 pm
I really appreciate this information. I have always wanted to write professionally (wrote my first book ‘My Unicorn’ when I was five… self illustrated – it was horrendous!) but I was always scared to actually go for it. I’m encouraged by the outlook and the options, even if I may never get to travel to bookstores all over the country to gloriously pen my name in books for my adoring fans. Sigh.
#58 by Joanna Aislinn on December 29, 2012 - 11:09 pm
Leave it to you, Kristen, to cover every significant point and detail. Phenomenal post! Happy New Year to you and yours!
#59 by Selene on December 29, 2012 - 11:25 pm
Great overall assessment of the industry. As a recently published writer (small press and indie) and avid reader, I agree with your predictions. In response to your comment about the need for gatekeepers in the booming ebook market, you’re right on the mark. I think the more flexible small presses will succeed, whereas many of the start-up presses clinging to too many of the traditional publishing ways will fail (i.e. not seeing their relationships with writers as a partnerships but simply transferring what they can of print publishing to the e-book market to cut production costs). Also, writers need to be flexible in how they bring their work to readers–the most successful will both publish via reputable small presses AND via Amazon’s KDP, Smashword, etc. venues–small presses with positive reputations for publishing good books for reader vetting purposes, the latter for better $$ return. Small to mid-sized presses need to brand themselves just like writers are doing at the moment. Publishing poorly edited and badly crafted stories in order to grab higher sales. will sink their own ships in the long run, dragging their better writers down with them. Selene Grace Silver.
#60 by Crane Hana on December 29, 2012 - 11:31 pm
Wow, are we drinking the same water? I just blogged about this being the best time for a writer, but the worst time for a lazy or impatient writer. I’ll vet WANATribe, but I think I’ve found another home – since it looks like I might be self-publishing an epic in the next couple of years.
#61 by jamieayres on December 30, 2012 - 12:06 am
I loved your predictions so much that I read your post twice–first to myself, then to my hubby. I totally agree with you. I will mention your post on my blog this Wednesday~Cheers to 2013!
#62 by Holly Michael on December 30, 2012 - 2:58 am
I have a book with an agent and have got good comments from some of the big publishers. I have a second book about to go to the agent. I thought I was in the right place. Hmmmm. A lot to digest here.
#63 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 30, 2012 - 1:43 pm
Just be educated and be careful what you sign. Self-pub isn’t for everyone, but there are some new indie small presses that are really excellent and their policies are far more author-friendly so that is an option as well. Just be careful not to hand off all your rights, but your agent should help you negotiate.
#64 by Holly Michael on December 30, 2012 - 8:35 pm
Thanks Kristen. Have joined WanaTribe and appreciate all you do. You’re been my motivator with my blogging. Best wishes in 2013
#65 by laurastanfill on December 30, 2012 - 6:02 am
I launched my indie press in October, focusing on the paperback POD model, using the Espresso Book Machine, and my experience so far dovetails with your predictions. Authors and readers have been really supportive and excited about this in-between option, and we’ve gotten some major attention–including making the Powell’s small press bestseller list. I can print a small run, sell or consign those books, and then print another small run. It’s practical, no waste and the money that otherwise would be tied up in inventory can be used to publish our next title.
I thought I was being old-fashioned with my love of print, but after reading your predictions, I think I’m right where I should be for 2013. Taking on the role of gatekeeper myself, after almost but not quite making it in traditional publishing, feels really empowering.
#66 by Fatooma on December 30, 2012 - 6:41 am
I just found your website a week ago, and I’ve learned so much. There is one problem though.
I live in Jordan and when I tried to order your ebook, “We are not alone…” from Amazon and then Barnes and Nobles, I couldn’t because they only send to U.S. and Canada addresses. Then I ordered it from Kobo books, but the epub wouldn’t display. Kobo said that would tell the publisher, but they wouldn’t know how long it would take to be corrected.
So I was wondering do you know any other way I can order the ebook from Jordan?
#67 by Tracy@A2ZMommy on December 30, 2012 - 8:11 am
Another fabulous post Kristen. I recently had this same discussion/debate at Christmas. Someone said that printed books and publishing are dying. I said they weren’t dying, just changing. Cookbooks are a great example. You no longer need to be Julia Child to publish a cook book. You can be a food blogger, build a following, create recipes that also serve as eye candy, then publish a cook book
and even with so many free recipes out there, people still want to use an actual book. It becomes faster for finding recipes and if you spill while cooking, which I always do, then your computer isn’t ruined. Change is definitely coming and as a writer I’m looking forward to seeing where it’s going.
#68 by jadwriter on December 30, 2012 - 8:37 am
I agree, that it will be an amazing year for us writers. Esp with all those new ereaders, and those mini ones that are ideal for children to read from, now out there. I like your news about it being ideal for short stories and novellas, as they are two forms of writing I plan to expand on next year.
#69 by Lloyd A. Meeker on December 30, 2012 - 8:49 am
Hi, Kristen — Thanks for the stimulating — and encouraging — predictions about the future of indie authors who are serious about writing quality stories and building gradually.
I also want to point out, simply for sake of accuracy, that the Mayans never predicted the end of the world. Their calendar recorded the end of one 26,000 year cycle, and the beginning of a new one. It is an interesting question to raise — how could a people apparently lacking our technical sophistication even conceive of a 26,000 year cycle, let alone measure our sun’s orbit around its center in the galaxy? We do the knowledge of the Mayans a disservice when we overpaint it with European (and mostly Christian) issues about an apocalypse.
May 2013 be a spectacularly wonderful year for good-hearted creativity wherever it may manifest. Especially through authors willing to tell deep stories…
#70 by Grace Burrowes on December 30, 2012 - 9:15 am
I’m keeping my eye on POD, which is now where e-readers were five years ago: It’s clumsy, the read isn’t the same, the technology is too costly…. right. The brick and mortars who can hang on will soon have the advantage over Amazon, which is putting one heck of an investment into warehouses that will guarantee “next day delievery.” The coming expresso machines will deliver by the next latte and can crank out thousands of books a day.
#71 by Terry Kate on December 30, 2012 - 9:27 am
That tech has been around for 5+ years – the issue is that it is being sat on. If the model changed with the tech or you could lease the machine etc. it would be a huge asset to indie book stores.
Check the shelves that hold one copy of each book – go to the desk, buy, they print while you get a coffee and then leave with any book hot off the press. Allow for a bigger selection of titles and easy access to backlist. There is novelty appeal and yet it hasn’t happened.
I wish it would.
#72 by laurastanfill on January 1, 2013 - 7:31 pm
The machines can definitely be leased; Powell’s Books doesn’t own theirs, although I think most stores do.
There aren’t, as far as I know, shelves with copies of each Espresso-published book so readers must show up knowing what they want. (There’s a search engine but no easy way to browse like you’re talking about.) My small press’ book is displayed at Powell’s because I published there but you won’t find it displayed at, say, the Tattered Cover even though it can be printed there. Still, I started a business around this technology because the potential is huge, the overhead is minimal and I get to deal with real people at a local store.
#73 by Lucinda Elliot on December 30, 2012 - 9:42 am
I was fascinated by this had hitting article; I’m over the water, but these days, that doesn’t make much difference. Love the jokes, too!
#74 by Gerri Brousseau on December 30, 2012 - 9:49 am
Hi Kristen. I have been a reader for a while, but this is the first time I am leaving a comment. I couldn’t agree more with what you have written, and I couldn’t be more excited about being an emerging author. Thanks for all your wonderful posts and timely words of wisdom.
#75 by Julie Catherine on December 30, 2012 - 1:19 pm
Reblogged this on Julie Catherine and commented:
Excellent post on what to expect for publishing and authors in 2013 from Kristen Lamb!
#76 by Julie Catherine on December 30, 2012 - 1:20 pm
Excellent post, Kristen, I reblogged this! Thanks for all your wisdom and awesome posts. I self-published my debut poetry book this year, and am working on another collection – I’m hoping that we can revive poetry reading! ~ Julie 🙂
#77 by Josh Magill on December 30, 2012 - 1:28 pm
As a longtime writer that has been discouraged and is now beginning to get serious about it again, this post brings me hope that I can succeed this time. Blogging seems to be the way many are getting their writing out, but the prospect of finally getting paid for novels or collections is fantastic.
#78 by Nick on December 30, 2012 - 1:49 pm
Hi Kristen, I’ve bought your book “We are not alone” and finally figured out what a Rss feed is and you were the first on I used it on. A lot of great advice and predictions both from the book and your blog, thanks.
#79 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 30, 2012 - 6:02 pm
Awesome, Nick! So happy to see you here 😀 *hugs*
#80 by Janet Givens on December 30, 2012 - 2:33 pm
Brilliant, Kristen, and readable. And exciting to ponder. I particularly liked your statement, “We will also see the creation of new genres, such as fiction targeted specifically to Baby Boomers (I have seen this recently and it is brilliant). Instead of YA, BBA.” I must tweet that (once I figure out how). It will be a Happy New Year.
Thank you. So glad I found you and your WANA Tribes, “where the party really is.”
#81 by Heather Moore on December 30, 2012 - 2:42 pm
I agree that it’s a very exciting time! Indie publishing has given me more outlets for my work, even though I continue to traditionally publish as well. I’m also a freelance editor and it gives me the opportunity to recommend indie publishing to clients who have great products but have hit a dead-end for one reason or another.
#82 by Heather Wright on December 30, 2012 - 3:46 pm
Thanks for taking the time to put all of this great information together. This is so timely, as I’m taking this time to make plans for next year that include self-publishing. I’ll be tweeting and sharing on FB!
#83 by Barbara M. Kelly on December 30, 2012 - 4:02 pm
Timing is everything! As I wind down from being the chief cook and bottle washer for a large family’s holidays, I realized that I haven’t touched my manuscript since Thanksgiving. Your blog piece renewed my sense of who and what I am, and sent me back to my [newly named] studio to begin a creative new year. Thanks for the reminders.
#84 by Leta Blake on December 30, 2012 - 6:47 pm
Reblogged this on Leta Blake and commented:
Fantastic and, in my opinion, accurate analysis.
#85 by The Hook on December 30, 2012 - 7:27 pm
I think your predictions are spot-on, Kristen. As usual! Your wisdom has proven invaluable.
By the way, I hope my reformatted query letter reached you.
All the best in the new year.
#86 by Grace Tallar on December 30, 2012 - 7:29 pm
I will start with a polite disagreement on traditional publishing: I believe the last printed book will disappear only with the last Baby Boomer. It will be a little longer than 5 years. There are a lot of us who likes electronics and technology, but the feeling of a paper book on the beach or in the hammock will be always nice…
As a matter of fact I believe that in future the paper book will be soon a true indication of it’s intellectual value, as digital printing is cheap and a lot of mediocre writers will be fulfilling their ego.
Unfortunately, it will be a lot of years in front of us when writer’s success will be measured by good promotion and marketing skills rather than good content (see mediocre writing of “50 shades of gray. This is sociological phenomena – brilliant marketing, but another topic).
I do agree with the rest of your observations and style. I wish you and all writers to have a very prosperous New Year .
#87 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 30, 2012 - 8:40 pm
Thanks for the comment, but let me clarify. I never said printing or paper would go away. I think paper is here to stay. I feel the WAY NY is handling printing will be extinct, as in the consignment model. Printing a bunch of books and hoping they all sell so you don’t have to pulp them into toilet paper is just bad business when the technology is there to print on demand and when your competition is not nearly as wasteful.
I feel that NY has underestimated how BIG e-books would get and couldn’t envision a world where people would not just loooove paper. I love paper too, but when do I get a lot of time to read? When I am on an airplane. Guess how much paper weighs and how much it costs me if my bag is overweight?
Sure, we will want paper, but that doesn’t mean we need to be wasteful about it. I happen to buy all of my nonfiction in both e-book AND paper. I like dogearing and coloring up my books. But bookstores can only stock so many paper titles, whereas with Espresso machines, more authors would have an opportunity to end up in the hands of a reader. I think paper is here to stay but we are going to be far more efficient with it.
#88 by Debey Sklenar on December 30, 2012 - 8:21 pm
A little off topic – but not totally. I just wanted to say a bit late of a THANK YOU. I attended the Idaho Book Extravaganza back in November and some of these things I learned there (from you and others) have really made me re-think a lot of things. Although late to the game, I am working on building a platform and luckily haven’t really done a lot online under my own name, so that at least is fresh.
And I hope your predictions come true because I am working like mad to revamp a trilogy of Fairy Tales I have for some e-publishing if I can only get my act (err, uh, platform) together….
Again, THANK YOU!!!
#89 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 31, 2012 - 8:58 am
You are most welcome :D.
#90 by Grace Tallar on December 30, 2012 - 11:04 pm
Kristen, thank you for clarification. It was very helpful.
#91 by Margie Brimer on December 30, 2012 - 11:16 pm
Depressing. I was in Barnes and Noble this week with my sister. She pulled a book off the shelf and her i-phone from her pocket. The shelf price was almost $20.00 more than the online price. She slipped the book back onto the shelf. Oh how I wish I had started writing 15 years ago!
#92 by Kasey on December 31, 2012 - 9:00 am
Wow, as always, so much fabulous and thoughtful information to digest and ponder! I’d just love a peek inside that brain of yours, Kristen! I want to once again extend a huge thanks to you for the part your blog posts, and even more so, your incredible book, We Are Not Alone, played in helping me get my book published in 2012. I was so overwhelmed by the entire social media world that had become a requirement to get agents/publishers to even glance at my manuscript. I thought it would all require hours and hours a day at my computer, but you pulled the curtain back and showed me that less really can be more! Thank you, thank you and Happy, Happy New Year! XO Kasey
#93 by Arthur M. Doweyko on December 31, 2012 - 9:04 am
I agree with almost everything you have predicted. The trends are strongly in favor of a decentralized publication paradigm. The biggest and most fearsome problem is the challenge for a potential reader to distiguish the crap from the gold. One solution I have never seen proposed is to use an algorithm designed to pick out certain characteristics of good writing (obviously a challenge in itself, however not impossible to just focus on a few things like grammar, punctuation, use of cliches, and the like), and have this algorithm provide an objective rating of the manuscript. At least the reader would have one more assessment of a book, besides the flawed review system we have now.
#94 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 31, 2012 - 9:28 am
A gatekeeping system will emerge. It will have to. I think primarily publishers will serve this role. As Amazon becomes a bigger publisher, readers will start looking to those authors first. It will be like the old paradigm reinvented. Query, agent, publisher. But this time the process will be faster, leaner and more favorable to authors because going alone is a viable alternative.
#95 by Terry Kate on December 31, 2012 - 10:21 am
Hmmm… What if it goes the other way – the readers and reviewers are the gate keepers. That is how it works with movies. No one can name the studio that produced a movie – likely – maybe the director.
They trust the actor perhaps to be the gatekeeper? In which case do we trust our favorite authors to keep their quality up? If we don’t recognize a single actor in the movie are we likely to see it, or only if the topic hits a cord – or because a friend or reviewer recommends it?
With online sales the % of consumers paying attention to the publisher is low. So can they really be the gatekeepers in a digital sales market?
#96 by Arthur M. Doweyko on December 31, 2012 - 1:13 pm
Good point…there will be so many publishers that readers are unlikely to remember which ones to trust. In fact, when I look for a book, I look for an author’s name first. It seems to be a Catch 22, good author -> good read, but how to know which is the good read for a new author? I still think that an independent system which provides some indication of quality in the writing could really work well to assist readers in making choices. We already have the technology (for example, look at Stylewrtier, a software package which assists the writer to get at least some basics in reasonable shape)…this type of anaylsis can be retrofitted to an Amazon ebook infrastructure. It’s not the end all, but it’s one more data bit for a consumer to digest prior to buying.
#97 by Terry Kate on December 31, 2012 - 1:26 pm
It is all so subjective. Word of mouth is always the most powerful and the hardest to come by, but win over a reader and they will bring their book club – friends – blog.
#98 by Pauline Baird Jones on December 31, 2012 - 1:57 pm
I blogged about this today, finding that elusive chemistry with a book. Even going by genre doesn’t work. It is TOTALLY subjective. The only way really, is by building your NAME. I think the only time I’ve known readers to notice publisher was during agency pricing. I know I noticed real fast when my kindle books were overpriced. And writing more books. And more books. And even more books. Cause if I like an author, that is first thing I do. See if they’ve written anything else.
#99 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 31, 2012 - 8:07 pm
Well, Cool Gus Publishing and Stonehouse are both making 7 figures. A lot of it comes from they have good authors and people stick to them like glue. Book bloggers and reviewers might help, but the problem is there are too many sock puppets. Too many phoney reviews. Hard to sort through who the real deals are. And sure, die-hard book fans will know the real book blogs, but that fat part of the bell curve will likely just find an author or publisher they like and stick to it like glue.
And we make choices like these all the time. We prefer MGM, Pixar, Lucas Films, Disney, and Lionsgate films over some no-name indie film company. Stephen Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, and Francis Ford Coppolla are names just as bankable as Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, or Matt Damon. To say that Siskel and Ebert were the only gatekeepers to good films would be just as flawed as saying book reviewers are the most powerful voice in how we choose what to read. We find films, music and now books in a combination of ALL these ways. We hear that Anthony Hopkins is in a film and we really don’t care what it’s about, because it’s directed by Clint Eastwood so it MUST be good. We have kids to take to a movie and all it needs is DISNEY on it to command our attention and our cash.
Books have historically been different, but that’s changing. Books and authors are now part of the entertainment business and that is why brand is more critical than ever. Yes, book bloggers and book reviewers are important, but not everyone pays attention to reviews. I never read them. I don’t like my opinion being swayed before I’ve decided for myself. So yeah, get reviews, but build your name by writing good books and don’t let just anyone publish your stuff. That’s part of what chaps me about this whole Author House business.
And historically people didn’t pay attention to publishers because historically they didn’t have to wade through a mountain of crappy books. Now that they don’t want to waste their time downloading crap, they will pay better attention. Trust me :).
#100 by Davonne Burns on December 31, 2012 - 9:54 pm
I can see both sides of this. On one hand there a people who will only see a movie or read a book if it gets good reviews. There are also those who are loyal to certain actors/author. And even high profile directors like Quentin Tarantino don’t always make money. He’s highly controversial and more of an cult icon than anything. Several of his movies have bombed at the box office just due to the fact that his movies fit a certain niche market.
Francis Ford Coppolla hasn’t directed a movie since 1997 so I’m not sure he could be considered a bankable director nowadays. Granted the movies he did direct are considered among the best ever made. But, most people born after 1990 wont even recognize the name.
Tom Cruise is more of a liability for movies anymore. He wasn’t even billed on Tropic Thunder because the execs thought it would hurt the movie.
Who is a bankable name is subject to audience whims. Obviously Disney-Pixar are loved by parents. But that’s another niche market. And not even every Disney-Pixar movie is box office smash. Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame come to mind.
In those cases the negative reviews and buzz killed the movies. Word of mouth will always trump any other medium of advertisement. This was drilled into my head when I was getting my business degree. Customers, clients and readers, viewers, whatever you call them, are the only one who drive sales. Do I read reviews of movies and books? Rarely. I too like to form my own opinion. However, I do listen to my friends on what they recommend. They know my tastes and I theirs and we advise each other accordingly. I’m not going to recommend a third rate movie or book to my friend and waste their time.
This is why the movie industry and the publishing industry spend millions, if not billions, creating good buzz. They do this by private screenings, getting high profile reviews, interviews and the like. Ultimately though it’s the audience that will decide if the movie or book is worthy of their time.
This quandary has been well explored in places like fanfiction.net. There are no gate keepers there other than the readers themselves.. Anyone can post anything and everything for anyone to read. Stories range from barely legible to masterful. I’m seeing the same thing mirrored in the self publishing industry. Fanfict.net does not police any fiction that doesn’t violate their terms. They leave it up to the readers to decide what is good and worthy of their time. They have a system of reviews, follows and favorites. Kind of like here. Its a decent measure of how well written a particular piece might be if it has a lot of reviews, favorites and follows. Just like here on WordPress, you can advertise all you want but if people don’t like or agree with your blog you won’t get followers. Even WordPress acknowledges this and encourages professional writing to keep readers.
Self publishing is a wonderful thing, allowing full artistic freedom. Along with that comes the abuses. It will no doubt take time but readers and reviewer will most likely turn the tide and become their own gate keepers. Just like they have on ff.net and other fiction hosting sites.
Don’t get me wrong, building a platform and brand is crucial to building readership but first and foremost should be dedication to the craft itself. Next should be understanding YOUR market. Not everyone is going to like your book, as hard as that is to digest, its a real fact. Publishing houses simply try to find those books that will appeal to the largest audience possible in the chosen genre. Which is why, when self publishing, understanding your particular market is so critical. So finding the reviewers who address those markets and reaching out personally to that audience will benefit you in the long run.
#101 by Morgyn on December 31, 2012 - 12:18 pm
One thing and one only — YIPPIE SKIPPY! How could any of us not feel our hearts pounding harder at the thought of getting the bit in our teeth and defining our future? Kristen, what an end of an era and year feel good message. Saving it for re-reading and link following. Thank you!
#102 by kcg on December 31, 2012 - 2:22 pm
Great post, very exciting visions!
#103 by danniehill on December 31, 2012 - 11:39 pm
What a great vision you have and I hope most of it comes true. As an indie writer it is so disturbing for me to see people selling junk to readers. We ‘must’ give the readers as good as they might get from a big publisher. It takes time, effort and help from editors and a host of others. If a writer is not willing to invest in what he/she is writing then please don’t publish. Readers are a writer’s life blood and they are so important to us all. I do think the day is coming– as you’ve said– when readers will find places in the social media that tells the truth about books. I so look forward to that day!
Thank you, Kristen. You do inspire me!
#104 by avatardesintesisyosoy on December 31, 2012 - 11:42 pm
Reblogged this on cienciayconcienciaccd.
#105 by Jane Porter on January 1, 2013 - 1:57 am
Fascinating…scary…exciting…scary…a little overwhelming, especially if you are a traditioanlly published author with contracts to fulfill. This past year has been tough. I feel like an elderly woman standing on the side of a busy four lane road and I’m trying to get across without a traffic light.
#106 by croutonwrites on January 1, 2013 - 9:40 am
Kristen, I never thought about different versions, like an updated and a PG version. I.think that could be next on my list. after all movies have done this for a.while now. I have thought of.a before / after where I publish a short I sold.to.an anthology and changed per editorial feedback. Offering both versions in one book is one idea. With the.tablet technology we’re getting close to Konrath’s book of the future ideas.
#107 by Liliana Hart on January 1, 2013 - 1:08 pm
This is a fantastic post, and I wholeheartedly agree with your predictions. I’m one of those 100% indie authors, and I’m proud of it. It just so happens that the books NY never wanted to buy (the ones that were too cross-genre for shelf space) are the ones people want to read. I started my journey back in June of 2011 and since then have sold more than half a million books. I no longer think about what New York wants or what’s trending there. I get to write for my readers. And it’s awesome!
But you’re right about the hard work, and I agree that we’ll see a lot of writers dropping out in the next year or two. I work all the time (usually 14 hours a day or longer). I not only have to write books at a pace that will always keep my name at the front of peoples’ minds, but I have to engage with them on social media (which I enjoy), and I have to make appearances at conferences and reader events. It’s all part of my Brand.
I don’t want to suffer for my art. I want to make money. And fortunately I’ve been blessed to make 10 times what I made as a teacher, and I’ve been able to hire my husband full-time to work for me as well. Because, like you said, it’s A LOT of work. I have had several trad authors tell me they just want to write. They don’t want to deal with all the other stuff, and that’s why they’re sticking with a trad publisher who is ripping them off for their hard-earned words. I don’t understand that mentality, but there are still plenty of them out there. It’s the workhorses you’re going to see continue to rise to the top.
I think you might be right about seeing more indie authors that ever over the next year, BUT…I also believe that there’s going to be a system in place where you really see the cream rise to the top over that same year. Readers are savvy people, and Amazon is a savvy business. That divide will start happening sooner rather than later. So it’s even more important for authors who go the indie route to make sure their product is in as professional a package as any NY publisher. I personally never look at the publisher when I buy a book. I look for covers that catch my eye, followed by an interesting blurb. Then I buy.
What are your predictions for Barnes and Noble in all of this? I know what MY predictions are:-)
#108 by Julie Glover on January 1, 2013 - 5:55 pm
Brilliant, Kristen! (Not that I’m surprised–you quite often are.) I admit that a part of me still bemoans the loss of crisp pages and crackling spines as I read, but the opportunities for excellent story are out there like never before.
#109 by Jami Gold on January 2, 2013 - 12:31 pm
Great post, Kristen. As you know, I’m right there with you on these thoughts. I hadn’t considered the multiple versions (PG-13) of a book before, and that’s certainly interesting. *ponders* Thanks!
#110 by Arthur Doweyko on January 2, 2013 - 12:42 pm
One more thing about the future of ebook publishing … you do realize how easy it will be to insert product ads in an ebook manuscript. When the hero takes a slug from a soda can, it may be a Coke or Pepsi…money talks.
#111 by Sonia G Medeiros on January 2, 2013 - 9:10 pm
Okay…that actually made me shudder. 😀 I personally can’t imagine doing product placement for hire. When I mention a product name, it’s to add to the sense of realism. But, I can totally see how easily this could be done.
#112 by Sonia G Medeiros on January 2, 2013 - 9:08 pm
I love the idea of being able to tailor the same book to different audiences!
#113 by Maureen on January 3, 2013 - 3:46 am
Great Post Kristen…I nodded my head so much it was in danger of falling off! LOL Am linking to this in my weekly roundup of great publishing tips and trends today. I am especially taken with the different grades idea. This idea got some good chewing over here (I’m on holiday at my mother in laws and she is a Romance writer…I’m a children’s writer) We could see definite advantages.
More power to your arm!
Maureen New Zealand
#114 by Marsha R West on January 3, 2013 - 12:57 pm
As always an intriguing post, Kristen. I’ve given myslef 2013 to hit it with a small press. If no takers, then I’ll jump on the indie bandwagon. Scarry, exciting, all the things others have said. Know lots of folks doing well at it. Liliana, #107 above, asked about B & N. I’m curious, too. I’m a big Nook reader. (After saying I’d never get one of those things. LOL As the eyes go, an e-reader is sooo much easier to read!)
Thanks for sharing your ideas.
#115 by stephscottil on January 4, 2013 - 4:07 pm
Incredible post! I am bookmarking this one for sure. Great observations, and thanks for links to some of your previous posts. I’m a huge fan of the blog, and I’ve missed the interatction on #MyWANA the past few months when I was busy with other things.
#116 by Kiva on January 7, 2013 - 11:22 am
I agree. Now is a fantastic time to be a writer. It’s true that it takes more time to build a platform, blog, post to social media, etc. but it’s well worth it in exchange for the freedom we get. To cut the time burden of doing these extra tasks I recommend partnering up with other writers to collectively run a blog and run social media accounts.
#117 by Lin on September 24, 2014 - 5:30 am
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