Space on the shelf

Romance authors were some of the first to embrace self-publishing, and it has opened a lot of doors for authors that might not have existed otherwise. But what effect does that have on the traditional publishing world? Steven Axelrod talks about the changing landscape for publishers.


Is self-publishing changing the market?

I think that the public in general doesn’t understand quite how successful, successful self-published authors can be. I mean, the money is amazing. You know, people are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, a month. And it is a game changer. It starts to truncate the market so that the traditional publisher, instead of having 100 percent of the market, now is sharing and you know, you’re sharing, in effect, with Amazon, which is pretty uneasy situation for publishers. You know, they’re their biggest account and also their biggest competitor. You know, Amazon is a complicated force in the industry.

What services do self-published authors need?

Well they need to get the file converted, which is not rocket science, but it’s, you know, it’s its own little task. They need to, you know, create the metadata, which is the tagging so that you can search for a book and sort of find it easily. They need to load it onto the various services, and then they need to price, put the pricing on it. And the pricing is, you know, it’s sort of, it’s one of the more, sort of actively discussed areas today, because all of a sudden the pricing is now in the control of the author. The freedom is, also comes with a lot more work. It comes with a lot more anxiety. It comes, you know, to really do it all is several full time jobs. Several full time jobs. And you have to really have a temperament for it, and a taste for it, and talent for it. So it’s, you know, it’s, you know, for a lot of authors who have been self published, and self published very successfully, once they get a,go through the experience of being published with a traditional house, they really want to stay there. Even if they make less money, because their lives are just happier. Their day is more productive from a writing point of view, they’re connecting to that part of their creativity that they really want to stay connected to. And they’re not worrying about, you know, getting stamps onto ARCs to send out to book bloggers.

How has the role of the publisher changed?

It used to be, in traditional publishing, when you had a mass market paperback, the lion’s share of the promotion budget went to buying space on the tables in the front of Barnes and Noble, and the front of Borders, and that’s how you moved books.
Now no author could buy that space, it went to the publishers. It was sought after, it was very expensive, and you had to have an ongoing relationship with Barnes and Noble or they wouldn’t even take your call. And now, you know, Barnes and Noble, I mean, Borders is gone, Barnes and Noble is sort of in disarray, the stores are, you know, apparently have been fairly well ignored for the last couple of years, and the real way that, with e-books, particularly, you can connect with your authors is out of the control of the publishers. So it’s a real turn around. It’s a phenomenal turn around, and a burden on the authors.

Advances in technology have shrunk time and distance, so that, you know, you don’t have to go to the bookstore to get a book. I’ll be lying in bed, I’ll finish a book, I’ll go onto Amazon, I’ll get the next book in the series, it will be downloaded, and I’ll be reading it within a minute. You know, and I’m charged a reasonable amount. You never could do that before. Once you can do it, why support the infrastructure that, you know, sort of provides a much less satisfactory experience? Sadly, I mean, we all love bookstores, we all moan and groan about, you know, how we love bookstores, and how we love books, and it’s all true, but when you can get a book in a minute at a really great price, and be reading, you can’t beat it. You know, you can’t compete against it.

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