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Taking the Plunge

Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by ToeKneeBlack, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Ten million non big fives?:confused: 400 big fives? :confused: Huh?

    You might want to look at that chart a little more closely. All the other traditional publishers not in the big five are the reddish brown line.
     
  2. plothog

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    What he means is the chart doesn't really give much indication as to how well each option works out for an individual author, because it doesn't show how many authors each line represents.
    If there are significantly less authors who are published by the big 5 than through other options, (e.g 400 vs 10 million) then the sales per author for writers who are big 5 published is much better.

    Edit: that's not saying that only 400 people are big 5 published. They have enough imprints that I'm pretty sure they have more authors than that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
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  3. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup.

    There's that quotation from Bob Young (founder of Lulu): “A publishing house dreams of having 10 authors selling a million books each. Lulu wants a million authors selling 100 books each.” quoted at http://www.sfwa.org/print-on-demand/ and elsewhere

    Now, that quotation is from seven or eight years ago, but I think the philosophy still stands. And I know I'd rather be one of the ten authors than one of the million.

    Lulu is only for print books, of course, where self-publishers are probably always going to have a hell of a time with sales. But print is still the majority format for books in every market in the world, and it's stunningly dominant in a lot of markets (eg. France apparently only has about 1-3% of its book sales as e-books) http://www.wischenbart.com/upload/1234000000358_04042014_final.pdf p21. This is changing, but e-book adoption rates are slowing. A lot of people still seem to want a physical book in their hands.

    So self-publishing is mostly going to be effective, when it's effective at all, in the digital market. And the digital market is currently much smaller than the print market and this doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.
     
  4. Megalith

    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    But more people are looking online for their physical copies. What you say at the end is kind of true. And it has been true for some time, but that doesn't include people that are finding new ways to get good books more consistently. Once the validity and quality of these methods are tested and verified, them the floodgates will be opened. And even if you had that data you say we need, you'd still want to know how many people applied to publishers above the line grade they were published in, and were rejected.(Or author trends in general) And even then it would be a hell of a task to make sense of it all.

    I get your example though, and I think the philosophy behind the two models is pretty similar. The 'philosopy' might not change, but the control the Big-5 have will continue to become more hollow, and might burst if they are not careful.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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  6. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't have the math smarts to have an opinion of my own, but if we're going to keep referring to Hugh Howey's work in this thread, we should all be aware that there is some serious criticism of his methods and his conclusions.

    As I said, I don't understand the math, but I like, trust, and believe SL Huang (author, self-publisher, and conveniently, mathematician), and she says the conclusions make no sense - read her points and lots of supporting links at: http://www.slhuang.com/blog/2014/02/16/links-to-analysis-regarding-authorearnings-com/

    (For those who aren't aware, Hugh Howey is something of a self-publishing evangelist - messiah to many aspiring self-publishers, fraud to other people. I honestly don't have a strong opinion on him, but I certainly don't believe in messiahs...)
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    And in case we prefer shiny charts, there are some really interesting ones produced by Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, who certainly has no reason to undersell the value of self-publishing.

    See http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2013/05/27/survivorship-bias-why-90-of-the-advice-about-writing-is-bullshit-right-now/ for a summary of some of Coker's findings, or http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/04/can-ebook-data-reveal-new-viral.html for the information from the horse's mouth.

    [​IMG]
    The above shows the problems with looking at the data as an aggregate - "mean" is obviously a pretty crude tool in data analysis.

    Or how about:

    [​IMG]

    No, that's not an empty chart with a blue margin, that's the actual line showing the relationship of the very few top sellers to the vast number of very poor sellers.

    And again, these charts are from Mark Coker, who has absolutely no reason to be discouraging people from self-publishing.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @BayView you seem to have some willful blindness for the other side of the picture, though. What do you think a chart of all the people who submit to traditional agents and publishers versus all the people who make a living at it would look like?
     
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  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think a lot of the argument from people fixed on the pro-traditional side is rooted in an apples v. oranges comparison. When we see traditional numbers what we get are people whose work was accepted by a traditional publisher, and then the numbers are provided based on that data. That's not an apples-to-apples comparison when you hold it up alongside self-publishing.

    The self-publishing numbers include every author who tries the self-publishing route. Of course most of them are going to be low.

    The traditional numbers are skewed upward, unless you also include every author who tries the traditional route, the majority of which are never going to successfully get a contract with a traditional publisher in the first place. If you leave that group out (the ones who submit to traditional publishers and just never get accepted), you're not making an even comparison.
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's willful blindness. I've been saying from the start that if you can't get published with a reputable publisher, you should consider self-publishing.

    If you're absolutely sure your book wouldn't be accepted by a publisher, then, sure, go straight to self-publishing.

    But a lot of people are saying that they think their book is good but they choose to self-publish. I think that's really unwise.

    ETA: Or I guess maybe you're saying that there is NO reliable data anywhere b/c of the apples/oranges issue. In which case we should all stop linking to sources of data.

    So, fair enough, but where does that leave us? Standing in the dark, tossing darts at a board with different publishing options on it?
     
  11. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just glanced through this thread, since it was easy to see where it was leading. I'll just say that, no matter which route one takes to publishing, it behooves one to spend a great deal of time researching both, and pay no attention to anyone, on either side, who resorts to bashing the other route - they have an agenda which will be of little value to you. Recognize when someone is talking about their personal experience, or that of "some I know" - it's anecdotal evidence and is of little value to you. Look with skepticism at anyone's supposed sales/earnings - self-reporting, in any venue (and that means outside of writing as well), is notoriously suspect, and since trade published authors rarely talk about theirs, are of little value for comparison anyway. Learn to hear what isn't being said as well as what is - such as noting the difference in success levels between genres. Look for people who are willing to point out the pros and cons, without making judgement calls, and without over-generalizing.

    Being successfully published, whether trade or self, is hard - very hard - and the odds of making a significant amount of money are dismal. Do your homework thoroughly first.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, there is no data to make the real comparison. That's what contributes to a black box for the new writer. I think someone with a very good book can have plenty of legitimate reasons for choosing to self-publish.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @shadowwalker yes, I think the takeaway should be that both routes are viable and have pros and cons, and the best thing for an author to do is learn as much as possible and make an informed decision as to what is best for them.
     
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  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As for bashing the other side, I agree it doesn't make sense. You'll see a few authors who have done well self-publishing who are highly critical of traditional publishing, but on writing forums, particularly for new authors, you see a lot more people who are dismissive of or denigrate the self-publishing route than the reverse. It gets to what I said about human nature, above, where people get so invested in one route via the other that they seem to have a personal stake in their path being "right," even when they haven't yet trod the path.
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't decide if you're talking in the abstract or talking about this discussion in general. Can you clarify?
     
  16. domenic.p

    domenic.p Banned

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    Many are turned away by Standard-Publishers because:

    1. Poor writing.

    2. Poor plot.

    3. Sent to wrong agent ( who does not sell your type story.)

    4. Poor SPAG.

    5. Your story is not different than many others on the market.

    6. Writing style out of date.

    7. You are hard to work with.

    8. Sometimes publishers have a book in works like yours.

      There are many people writing stories. The truth is most people are not good writers, and story tellers. Most never educate their self on how to write. They just start writing. It is akin to trying to be accepted in any field without training. These same people flood the Ebook market with bad material. Readers have come to know, most of these self-published works are a waste of money…when one is good, it gets a following. Problem is, “All writers think they are great, and have written the next great American Novel,” and it’s just not true. Most of the stuff out there stinks.
    Sorry to sound harsh, but if you want a chance at becoming a writer...learn how to write before you waste your time just writing. People who can't write, and think they can are destroying the best market open to writers...the Ebook.

    At present, with standard-publishers, readers know books are of good quality...that field is not flooded with junk.
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Mostly in the abstract, though you can see a strain of disfavor toward self-publishing in this thread as well, as opposed to "just know what you're getting into and then choose your path." I've seen worse in other forums, and perhaps less of the bashing in the last couple of years.

    The way I look at it, if someone wants to go the traditional route that's great. I hope they end up with a very successful book. If they want to try the self-publishing route, that's great too. I hope they do well. I'd like to see people evaluate the pros and cons of each and then decide for themselves which way to go, and I don't think anyone has any business bashing someone over either choice (subtly or explicitly).
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Given that I've done both and plan to do both again in the future, I'm pretty sure I'm not bashing either camp. But that doesn't mean I think self-publishing is a good choice for a first book.
     
  19. domenic.p

    domenic.p Banned

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    I bash those who can't write, and flood (destroy) the Ebook market. I also bash the Ebook publishing companies who publish the junk. A Good book is lost in all that mess.
     
  20. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Oh, I see. In that case people are looking at the data the wrong way. If your goal is to earn a million dollar income from your books, your odds of getting there with a one shot book are slim. If your work stands out, you still have better odds of getting there by building a following of readers. As such a wider readership is more important than that one great book a traditional publishing house is going to take and promote and make it happen.

    What makes it happen is not the publisher, it's the writer connecting with readers. A great publisher cherry picking the best stuff still ends up with a large share of failures, be that number 60% or 80%. It still comes down to the reader connecting with the book.

    The chart says what it says, where the market share is. That's how one analyzes a market. If you were looking at the market share of Coke vs Pepsi, it tells you about Coke and Pepsi, not about which local minimart sells the most cola.

    If Coke were expensive and Pepsi cheap, one would sell more units than the other within that market share. The market still has so many dollars the public spends on cola.

    In this case the readers have so many dollars they spend on eBooks. The chart shows those dollars distributed by publisher type. What can you say from that data?

    For one, it doesn't include print books. But we know that print on demand is changing the print market. We already know the digital revolution is changing the publishing market. We can leave the print market out at the moment.

    The graph shows the increasing market share of indie publishing and the decreasing market share of traditional publishing. Will publishers turn that around? Certainly they will try. Again, the future publishing world is unknown, things are in flux.

    Does it matter if the number of indie books are many and cheap and the big five are selling fewer for more money? That is almost certainly true. But as a new writer, you want the widest readership. And more expensive books won't translate one to one into greater money for the author, some of the excess profits are going to many people in between.

    What the chart shows is not that the big five sell fewer books for higher prices, though we can guess that's true. It shows how the readership is dividing up the dollars it spends in this market.

    Posting this data is not an argument for either method of publishing. It's merely a snapshot of real data, which is more accurate than stereotyped beliefs about the publishing world.
     
  21. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    But another way to look at that is the the chances of being one of the hundred are as good as winning the lottery. The chances of being in the million are very high.

    And, how much confidence do you have in your book? If 100 people read it, will that be enough to trigger the snowball of word of mouth if the book is good?

    And given the top 5 publishing houses are hard to get into, it's more realistic to assume if a publisher picks up your book, it won't be in the top 5. Maybe the top 5 are not who we should be comparing self-publishing to.

    Anyone who thinks the digital market will go by the wayside and print books will always dominate isn't paying attention. Print on demand is digital technology and just as inexpensive to publish in. What you won't have as an indie publisher are your books on the supermarket shelves. The brick and mortar bookstores are more of an unknown.
     
  22. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I do understand the math, and the data and I haven't read much of the conclusions or preaching. I'm looking just at the data. The charts aren't just pretty, they translate numbers into visual data that is easier for the brain to compare.

    From your link:
    Looks consistent with what I've said, the data shows X. What conclusions you draw from X is a different animal.
     
  23. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Nothing here is inconsistent with the data I cited. We already know there are only a few writers at the top and there are millions at the bottom. That's in the graph I posted further upstream.

    The question is, how much did the writer and how much did the publisher contribute to the cause?
     
  24. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I won't even consider self-publishing for the simple reason that I don't care about doing the publishing side. But there are many reasons why it's a good choice for some authors - and a terrible choice for others. There are many reasons why a trade publisher doesn't pick a particular book and none of them has to do with quality. When we can get past the idea that self-publishing is for losers, and start looking at what's the best choice for the individual, and then how to deal with that choice is the best way for both book and author, we'll have made progress.
     
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  25. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In this thread? Who?

    What I said was, I'm not afraid self-publishing will doom my book to failure, and I don't think if my queries get no traction that means my book is not good. I know my book is good. What I don't know is the size of readership that will translate to.

    I haven't heard more than, weigh the pros and cons and self-publishing is an alternative, from others in the thread. Mostly on the self-publishing side of this debate, people like me are reacting to the dissing of that option.

    There is more than a bit of actual data in this thread alone. To say there isn't any or the data is impossible to interpret leaves you making decisions based on what? Your gut? Your single experience in one genre writing one kind of book?
     

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