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Breaking Out

This morning I read a blog post written by Terry Persun, an indie press writer of several well-received novels.

In it, he makes some important points about self-publishing that you can read at:

The one I'd like to explore is Terry's closing suggestion:

"If you want readers to spread word about your book, then you might want to consider writing a better book." 

Terry's point? All the marketing, tweeting, and blogging you do won't help if your book sucks. 

But what if it doesn't suck?

What if you've written an engaging story with characters that leap from the pages, and what if all your fellow writers, friends, and family think your book is great too? And what if all those writers, friends and family members do spread the word after you have self-published, or, like me, found a small press to publish for you?

What I'm asking is - does any of it matter? How do you break out? How do you reach the millions of readers who might buy your book, instead of the dozens of faithful followers who will buy it?

There used to be an answer to this question: big traditional publishers and thousands of bookstores, both large and small, through which they retailed the small number of authors crowned to be worth reading.

Today, this model is deep in a publishing sea change led by Amazon. Pandora's box is wide open. Anyone can publish anything for little cost (or no cost for Kindle). Amazon and Print-On-Demand publishing have leveled the playing field. 

Let me stretch that "playing field" analogy. Take soccer, for example. In any adult game there are 22 players on the field. You can watch your favorites and pretty much follow the action. But what if there were 2200 players? Good luck picking one out. 

And if you think that's difficult, try to find a great new author on Amazon. In the past 90 days there were nearly 600,000 newly released books, and more than 20% of those were novels. That makes my novel, Taking Flight, one of 110,000 and counting.

I wonder what Amazon thinks of all this. Does it recognize the problem? Should we expect Amazon to help separate the wheat from the chaff? Or will it remain the responsibility of traditional publishers to tell us what we should read? 

I fear the answer lies buried in the economics of publishing. The Big Six are all about making money. So is Amazon. For the Big Six, that means finding and keeping great authors (albeit a small number) and promoting their books. For Amazon, lack of quality doesn't hurt the bottom line; 600,000 books sold at a few dozen copies each will continue to create good quarterly revenue and profit.

Does that make Amazon a vanity press? Maybe not, but it's hard to argue that most authors will publish with them in vain.

Still, there's always hope. Maybe my book or your book will be the one to break out.

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Reader Comments (1)

This is fantastic blog post, thanking for blog sharing, this is for example people share the published.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterImprimerie Montréal

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