Saturday, March 26, 2011

Choices -- What’s an Author to Do?

Many thanks to Marissa Moss and Tammi Sauer for contributing their thoughts for the last two posts. In the meantime, my newsreel (left) and my Google alerts kept churning out the news on the impact of e-books and e-readers – on the industry, on authors, on readers, on stores, and on libraries.

Since I started this blog in November, just four short months ago, so much has happened in the industry. Google opened their own e-book store. The New York Times started e-book bestseller lists for fiction and non-fiction. E-books outsold paperbacks on Amazon.com. The Newbery Medal winner and finalists were announced, and most of them were in e-format as well as print. E-readers were the top gadget for the Christmas gift season. Borders announced they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And the HarperCollins boycott continues due to their policy on selling e-books to libraries.  (If you’re new to this blog, click through some of my older posts to get caught up on all of these news items.)

In the meantime, publishing houses are struggling financially with rising prices, falling sales and limited budgets, on top of unpaid receivables due from Borders (and other failing brick-and-mortar stores) and the stress of trying to survive with an old business model in an industry where the rules are changing fast.

In the midst of this doom and gloom, however, the e-book format is growing, thriving, and bringing publishing success to many authors. So what does all of this mean to authors?

I think it means choice. It means options. Previously our choices were limited to a) find an agent and/or publisher, or b) be a slush pile miracle, or c) self publish and have virtually no distribution. But the internet changes everything. It gives us 24/7 worldwide distribution with a wide array of marketing options. It gives us free access to be able to format our books into e-books. And Amazon is now supplying a print on demand option for our readers who prefer print books.

I’ve written about Amanda Hocking’s success with her books in Kindle format. For weeks she has dominated the Amazon part of my bestseller list,  taking seven of the ten spots. This week she’s showing up on the KoboBooks list and the Sony Ebookstore list as well. St. Martin’s Press has now given Amanda a seven-figure offer for a new series. According to her blog, she’ s going to take it , but she still intends to keep self publishing too. Her reasons for both are valid and well-thought out. She has choice. She has options. She wouldn’t have gotten this far without the e-format. She won’t get where she wants to go without the traditional publisher. Read her blog post for all the details. It’s interesting to see both sides of the coin.

As I’ve said before…It’s an exciting time to be an author.