|Romance Writers of Australia|
Last year, there was a sense of confusion from all corners. Authors were nervous, pubishers were even more nervous. This year, the balance has shifted into the author's favour. Because of the popularity and price advantages of ebooks, authors can build a reputation all on their own and make a great career. Not all authors, of course, but this was never the case with traditional publishing either.
It's the top 5% that get all the glory - with epublishing and traditional.
(Kind of like weight loss. Only 5% of people ever lose weight and keep it off. Loads of industries are the same, it's only the top 5% who really make it. Wow, it really is lonely at the top).
Kindle is hungry.
Readers who buy electronic books are voracious. If they like an author, they want the next book, now please. Authors need to have three or four books ready to go, one after another, if they're looking at going digital first.
Your best promotion is your next book. (There's something that hasn't changed.)
Indie or self-pubbed writers - the more you relentlessly promote, the more you push people away. Kate Cuthbert quoted us some surveys that have found those who promote the most on social media have the least overall sales.
On the other hand, those who write the most (ie, spend all their time writing the next book instead of promoting the last one) build a stronger following and sales because they have more to offer and their focus is on the writing, not the promoting.
Once readers latch on to an author, they want more.
Kindle is hungry.
Be ready with three books at least.
Then have more ready to go.
What, you've only written one book? Get writing!
Even published authors get the blues.
Writing is a solitary endeavour, but when I'm with a whole stack of authors it makes me realise I'm not so alone. It's an incredibly tough business with no guarantees. Often an editor at a publishing house wants to build an author's profile, but the decision is taken out of their hands by 'bean-counters' who must answer to shareholders. It's a business, but I can't help wishing it were more like a sheltered workshop some times.
Agents are awesome
Loads of praise for agent Helen Breitwieser from Cornerstone Literary in LA, who gave us insights into what's going on with publishers in the US.
Writers have options
It used to be, in the romance industry at least, that Harlequin/Mills & Boon was the holy grail. Get in with them and you'd be set.
Not so much any more.
Lines keep changing, or are discontinued, and authors were getting dumped. Romance is a multi-billion dollar industry, but that doesn't mean they'll continue a line if it's not paying its way.
BUT, with more information comes more choices and options. Yes, authors are still busting a gut to get 'in' with HMB, but they're not seeing it as a lifelong career any more. It's more like "I'll write for them to get a following, then branch out on my own."
Which brings me to my final point:
Self-publishing is not career death
A few years back, self-publishing (and I'm talking e-books mostly) was seen as career suicide. If your book was already out there, no publisher would touch it. It would be 'tainted' with the stench of desperation and failure.
Not so any more. Self-publishing direct to Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo or wherever else, is now seen as a legitimate way to grow an audience - while you keep writing book after book after book.
As traditional publishing becomes more risk-averse, and the bean counters take over, editors are looking for more ways to make a good investment. It makes perfect financial and creative sense to hunt for an author who has done all the hard work and built a following already.