Indie book publishing in 2020

From Rick:

This week’s post will be a short one from my perspective, but it will provide you with some good reading material and hopefully some good insights.

We’re over ten years into indie publishing, and it’s safe to say that not only has it become accepted, but it’s continuing to grow and gain strength. Successes, once rare in this new venue, are becoming much more common, and authors are embracing the control they have over their work.

As with any venture, it does require commitment, but I find more and more authors rising to the challenge. There are several myths and areas of misinformation out there. Some authors still have not come to terms with the idea that traditional publishing is almost never the way to go anymore, and few of those who do make it into traditional publishing today are going to see any meaningful success. Worse, those who do will lose any control they have over their work.

I’ll put it more bluntly: Traditional publishing is in deep trouble. It was in trouble before Covid-19 came along, and that’s only made things much worse with bookstores closing, some never to open again. On top of that, traditional publishers, the large ones especially, seem unwilling to adjust their pricing to competitive levels because they still believe that people are willing to buy overpriced books.

With that introduction, here is a list of recent articles for your consideration. I’ve added my comments about each article.

This one contains up-to-date information that covers all aspects of publishing, not just from traditional publishing perspectives as do some other articles. This first one reflects how things more recently are faring, pre-Covid-19 that is. It will be interesting to see how much things change post-Covid-19. I’ve seen predictions that the changes will be significant. But we’ll see once the proverbial dust settles.

Of note is that before indie publishing began, romance fiction held roughly 40% of the genre market. This article shows how that’s changed.

BOOK PUBLISHING STATISTICS

One of the links in the above article is under the “average book price of an e-book in 2017,” which is a link from Smashwords. I’ve added the link here to be sure you don’t miss it because it’s important: SMASHWORDS 2017 SURVEY.

Check out this article by Mike Shatzkin, who has been following the changes in publishing for many years now:

ONE BIG CHANGE IN BOOK PUBLISHING (FOR INDIE AUTHORS)

The following article’s title speaks for itself:

3 REASONS TO EMBRACE ONE-STAR REVIEWS

The next article comes with a few caveats that should be obvious because pricing your book depends on many factors, not all of which may apply to every author. The writer of the article puts the cost of marketing into the book’s price, but that’s only relevant if you plan to sell a lot of books to a larger market. If your goal is small to moderate sales and marketing is not a primary concern, then some of those costs won’t be much of a factor in pricing your book.

PRICING YOUR BOOK

And the last article comes with several caveats concerning costs for self-publishing. In particular, the costs for editing are based on what “professional” editors charge. The reason for the quotes around “professional” is that I’m using the term to refer to those editors who do this for a living as their primary source of income. There are MANY well-qualified editors out there who charge on the low end (or lower) of these number ranges.

For the most part, I consider professional manuscript assessment an unnecessary expense because it can often be handled by good critique groups, beta readers, or local or online workshops and writers’ groups. The same applies to developmental editing. Even if you live in a location where there are no local writers around to help you out, you may be able to find a critique partner online.

In my opinion, these two editing aspects are more geared to those new writers who intend to seek an agent and a traditional publisher. But with that almost never a good option anymore, manuscript assessment and developmental editing is off the table.

Put another way, if you have no clue whether your writing is any good, or you know it’s so bad that you need to pay someone to help you clean it up, then a better course of action is to take some classes to teach you how to hone your skills. There are plenty of good workshops to be found online that will cost you MUCH less than the exorbitant prices some of these types of editors charge, and you’ll learn skills that will help you in subsequent work.

The only exception to that advice is with someone who lacks the time to learn the proper skills and who has the money to pay someone to put the book into a publishable form.

And when it comes to line editing, copy editing, and proofreading, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on these services. Many times, you can find a well-qualified person, one who doesn’t rely on editing as a full-time job, to give you a much better rate.

That said, I do find the article’s cover design and formatting prices to be within acceptable limits, but be aware that paying the higher prices for a completely custom-designed book cover will not necessarily guarantee you more sales than will a less expensive one.

And if you find your initial cover isn’t doing the job, you can easily change it out later when you have more money to spend on a better design. While the cover is important, as I’ve said before, if what’s under the cover is not good, then the best cover in the world will be of little use.

While a great cover may initially grab you more sales, once the reviewers have their say, the reviews will override a great cover if the book is not good. Put your money initially where it will provide the most benefit and take the time to write a good book first.

SELF-PUBLISHING COSTS

PERSONAL PROMO NOTE: I can perform all of these editing services, and I know another local editor who I can highly recommend as well. I’ll always provide an initial free evaluation and advice on what I feel you need, along with free sample edits so you can evaluate my work. You can contact me at my website: ricktaubold.com

–Rick

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