Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Digital Publishing Makes Progress

Now Barnes and Noble is offering digital self-publishing, joining Amazon. It's one more sign of the sea change in publishing, and the opening of new options for authors. I expect midlist authors to be taking up these opportunities, like J.A. Konrath is doing with Amazon (check out his blog here). The biggest barrier now is marketing, because the authors will have to figure out their own marketing plans and execute them.

It's true that authors who already have a fan base may not do much more than announce their new book and they'll sell enough to make it worthwhile. Most authors, though, would certainly be able to increase sales by expanding their user base through marketing efforts. Unfortunately, most authors aren't familiar with marketing and may not want to have much to do with it, even though they appreciate the results. I predict more services being offered (by publishers and others) to help authors with a variety of tasks. Essentially, the classic publisher role will be split into its component parts and offered by third-parties. Some companies may offer multiple services.

Let's say you're an author who has a completed novel, and you want to make some money from it. Previously, your options were to try and get a publishing deal, or to go to a vanity press, print a  bunch of copies, and then try to sell them yourself. Now, you'll be able to self-publish through Amazon or B&N or even your own web site. Soon (maybe even now) you'll be able to get a professionally designed cover, and some help with the interior layout. You can already get your book professionally reviewed, and have the reviews posted widely. Arranging bookstore appearances, social marketing, other promotions... all the marketing tools are either available to authors or via third parties who will provide them to authors.

Yes, it's more work for an author... but in return the author gets a much greater percentage of the revenue, and can possibly make far more than on a traditional publishing deal. On the down side, the author loses the number one reason (the publisher) why their books don't sell...


  1. Even if you get a publishing deal, you will likely have to do most of that marketing anyway.

    The pros of a publishing deal is an advance, strong relationships with major retailers, basic initial publicity, feature placement in stores (that you usually pay for out of future royalties), and offloading design, printing and distribution costs and management.

    All valuable but many authors are left on their own to market their books. And as publishers seek to hedge their bets and minimize risk, they are going to increasingly look to sign authors who have already excelled at marketing themselves and building an audience.

  2. Good points... much as authors might dislike the idea, marketing is going to be more effective if they're in charge. I suppose publishers might do a good job if you're Stephen King, but then how much help would he need anyway? There are now more options for authors to consider, which is all to the good, I think.