Thursday, March 31, 2011

Survival of the Smartest

Last October, I attended the Novelists Inc one day conference in St. Petersburg. It was a panel style workshop comprised of industry professionals and the topic was the future of publishing. I'm happy to report that yes, publishing does have a future. It's just a different future than some of us might have envisioned ten years ago. E-books are here to stay and they will take over print books. Like it or not, it's a reality. Twenty years ago the only people who had cell phones were doctors and drug dealers. Now, even ten year olds have them. Technology is growing at an exponential rate and E-readers were one of the hottest selling items last holiday season. People are not going to stop reading. They are just going to use a different medium and we, as writers, have to adapt to that medium or see our futures in publishing go the way of those big old fashioned stationary rotary dial phones (remember them?) Yeah, there's a whole generation out there who have no idea what I'm talking about.

This past week I've been following the Amanda Hocking story. If you don't know who she is, don't feel bad. I didn't either until she started making publishing headlines. Although apparently, plenty of other people did know who she was. She's the chick who self-published her novels, selling them on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and has made 7 figures since putting up her first book last year. Yes, you read that correctly. According to this NY Times article she's made almost 2 million dollars. The interesting thing is that she made news recently because despite all her mega success in the world of self-publishing she's just signed a huge deal ($2 million) with St. Martins Press for 4 YA novels, the first scheduled to debut next year. You can read about the deal right here.

In an interesting twist, Barry Eisler, a best selling author of traditional published books, has turned down an offer from the same publisher (St. Martins Press) to self-publish. He thinks he'll end up making more money in the long run, by going it alone. I have to say, he makes sense. You can read his reasoning right here on Book Beast.

This all takes me back to last October, sitting in that big conference room listening to the panel talk (one of the panelists, by the way, was self-pub guru Joe Konrath) about the future of publishing. I think after the events of the past couple of weeks, I can say that almost anything can and will happen. We have to adapt. We have to write smarter and be smarter businesswomen. Our books are our merchandise and we have to get our merchandise in front of people to read. Any way we can.



  1. I've been following this closely too. I don't think anyone in publishing really knows what's the next big thing or who is the next big thing. They both have great followings and that will definitely help. I'm so happy for both of them. I'm glad there are so many options for writers now.

  2. Excellent blog, Maria. This is an exciting (and scary) time for writers. You're absolutely right -- people are still going to read, so we need to continue to write.


  3. Every day there's some new publishing development. It's really something to watch - and be a part of.

  4. I hate change of any kind, so these kinds of stories terrify me. But eventually, we'll all have to adjust and change our thinking. I'll be right behind the rest of you, waiting to see what happens. Maggie

  5. I don't think print books are going away any time soon. I have a feeling e-book sales will level off (if they haven't already), at least for decades or so, until several generations of print lovers disappear from the planet. I loved the irony of Barry Eisler walking away from St. Martin's and Amanda Hocking signing with them! Just goes to show, it's anybody's game right now. And even a very astute e-book author sees value in having a traditional publisher. I think, as writers, we just have to keep exploring our creative brains and concocting stories people want to read. That part is never going to vanish, as it's essential to all formats of publishing. All additional formats do is expose our words to a larger audience (and some might say, younger). It sure makes for an interesting discussion, though! Thanks, Maria! :-)

  6. It's an interesting world for sure. But what doesn't change is that there will always be a demand for strong writing. I know with self publishing it opens the door to everyone, but eventually consumers will have to become quality savvy in order to get good product. I think author branding will become very, very important in the coming years, and to get fans, you need to write the best book you can, right?

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse