Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Future of Publishing

Last night, I attended a writing workshop to help us finish our book. One of the participants said she'd been considering self-publishing. I told her one of my friends and fellow writers had opted for that choice. So in light of that conversation, I'm sharing an excerpt from a longer article from The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter. I hope everyone who's trying to publish finds this information helpful.

A lot of people claim that traditional publishing is broken and will eventually die. I disagree. Much like the changes that have occurred in the past in publishing, the big six will survive and so will agents. I do not have any insider knowledge or hidden agenda, nor do I profess to know everything about publishing. Not by a longshot. But I do know how to read the signs of this evolution or revolution, depending on which side of the fence you are on. I believe there have been many signs. Here is how I foresee they will do it.

Self-publishing: In the very near future, all of the houses will spend some of their equity on self-publishing. In order to survive, they are going to have to reinvent the way they do business. This means digging into the self-publishing arena. It's rumored that two major houses are already doing this, and there are likely more to come.

Hay House, for example, has already lent their name to Balboa Press which is their self-publishing arm. I have no experience with Balboa so I can't speak to their process, but I do know that part of their sales pitch to authors is that a successful book published with Balboa will be considered by Hay House for republication. Does this actually happen? I don't know, Balboa hasn't been around long enough to show a track record. If publishers get into self-publishing, does that mean they won't be publishing traditionally? Not at all. The traditional model won't go away, but with publishers becoming more and more risk-averse, the model has to change if they're going to survive. And, let's face it, while the number of bookstores is declining, opportunities to sell books and flood the market with books continue to increase.

Direct to consumer: While some publishers are dabbling in this, I'm not clear how successful they will be. Consumer engagement on e-commerce sites such as Amazon, etc. will significantly change the way we buy. What does this mean? I think you're going to see a lot more social buying in the future. Social engagement, consumer recommendations, etc.

We're already seeing a lot of this, but I believe we'll see much more of it. Can publishers offer this? Yes, they certainly can, but first they have to overcome the hurdle of consumer awareness. Consumers don't know publishers, they know authors and they know the big e-commerce sites like Amazon, et al. Direct to consumer is great, but when you've been a behind-the-scenes entity for so long, the awareness process can take a while.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.


  1. Very interesting!! I think traditional publishing and these new ways of publishing should be able to work together to give authors and readers the best and most varied of choices! It's all good! I hope so anyway - but like most evolutionary processes - some bits need to go or be refined and changed along the way! Take care

  2. Thanks for sharing. I don’t see traditional publishing going anywhere either. I see changes happening there, like Harlequin has their epublishing company, Carina Press. OR Avon now has an epublishing imprint.

    Self publishing has always been, and will always be a last resort in publishing. Yes, there are those few authors who self published great books and became mega bestsellers, but there’s also hundreds if not thousands of authors who self published plot less books with unrealistic characters, littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. Ultimately, people still see self publishing as the publishing for people who can’t write.

    Many people say that epublishing will replace traditional but I disagree with that too. People who buy epublished books have different reading needs then people who buy traditional. I used to read traditional but now days I’m so unbelievably busy that I don’t have the time to read a 500 page book. I recently read a 230 page book and it took me two months to finish it. By the time I finished it, I had forgotten how the book began. I read epublished books as most are short and enjoyable. I get a good story within 50 or 80 pages and I’m done with it in a few days and could move on to a new book.

    Thanks for sharing that article. It was very good reading.

  3. It was a very small phenomenon before, because authors didn't have any distribution. But then Amazon happened and their kindle distribution and that's when things started to change really fast. I agree that traditional publishing will always remain. On a long enough period of time thought, every published book will be digital. but is it in ten years? Or in a hundred? Meanwhile I still over my paperbacks.

  4. Choices are always good, Jennifer. You're right though. New and traditional ways of publishing should fuse or work together.

    Hi Angelina,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on publishing. I think I've only read one or two self-published books. I'm not trying to be a snob here, but when choosing my books I go for classics or titles that appeal me. I'm with you on the topic of traditional publishing's longevity.

    Hi Ben,
    Yep! I guess we all agree when it comes to traditional publishing. Digital, nah! not for me. I'm sticking with paper pages. ;)

  5. Now that's interesting. Traditional publishers getting into the self-publishing arena.

  6. Hi Alleged Author,
    I don't think that'll happen but in this day and age we have to keep our options open. ;)

  7. Thanks for the posting!

    Yes, one can see the writing on the wall of the future. The world changes as does its marketing arenas, so ... we must adapt also.

    I can forsee traditional publishers getting into the self-publishing aspect if the self market becomes a mainline competitive option. Reminds me of Jack-in-the-Box, MaDonalds, etc. beginning to sell chicken products, salads, tacos, etc. to draw all customers rather than a smaller 'select' group.

    Anyone see Tupperware, oops, I mean Book Sale parties, on the homefront's horizon?

  8. Thanks for the post, Claudia. I do think (and hope!), that traditional publishing will continue, just as I think (and hope!) that printed books continue. Won't it be interesting to see how publishing evolves over the next few years?

  9. Hi Royce,
    Yes, traditional publishing has to adapt not only to the marketing changes but also to the new kind of readers (e.g. Generation Y and Z). RE: Book sales parties, I was invited to one last year (ironically, it was by a publicist who specializes in self-published authors).

    Hi Adam,
    Yep! me too. I hope so too. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Yes, publishing is changing, and changing fast. I still think traditional publishing will be around. I believe that we all can succeed from different avenues. I think there's room for the new changes in publishing.

  11. Hi Racquel,
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments. ;)