I just finished judging the MORE THAN MAGIC published book contest that our RWA chapter, Romance Writers Ink, puts on each year. Among the books I was assigned, I received traditional print, small press, and an eBook. I have to admit, in years past, I had to force myself to read some of the books I got, especially the eBooks. One of the things that keeps me going in my own writing is seeing the stuff some editors will buy. (That’s my inner B**ch speaking.)
But this year, there wasn’t any book I didn’t enjoy. I’ll admit, I enjoyed some books more than others, but there wasn’t one that I wanted to throw against the wall. (Especially the eBook since that would involve throwing my new laptop!) And as I thought of this phenomenon, I realized there has been some major growth in the publishing business. A growth I’m not sure everyone has recognized.
We all know how the big mainstream publishers have merged, tightened the market, and generally gone into recession mode. This has lessened the market for mid-list authors and newbies. You really have to write a superior book or have a great sales history to sell consistently to them. But have you noticed the growth in small press and ePublishers?
Used to be, if you couldn’t sell to New York, you could ALWAYS sell to someone on-line. Oh, they may not have been very good, but if you were desperate to sell… But as economic times got tougher, so did selling to small publishers. Just as there have always been wannabe writers, probably there have been wannabe editors. These are people who can’t write worth crap, but have a vision of the kind of stories they would like to see published. Before computers, there was no way most of this people could live their dream. I mean, there were even fewer editor slots than writer slots.
But between digital files, Print on Demand, and the Internet, if a wannabe editor wanted a job, they could get one. Even better, they could afford to set up their own publishing company with a modest investment. The ladies of Belle Books did it. True, when ePublishers started, they came and went like dust storms. However, when they develope an eReader as cool as the iPod, eBook publishing will take off with a flash. And even the big mainstream publishers will have to take notice.
There will be a vast market, but it will still be discriminating. Mainstream publishers won’t be able to charge print book prices. Quality writing is what will sell and if your company gets a reputation for putting out junk, forget it! At first, authors will probably not make much money; most small presses and ePublishers don’t offer advances. But as the market shakes out, the top tier authors won’t be able to turn out enough books for all the publishers and those who want those authors, will have to pay. Eventually, electronic publishing will be where mainstream publishers are today. There be a few publishers who publish general books and a middle group who publishes genre or specific theme books. Finally, there will be the “fringe” publishers who won’t be the bottom or the second-class publishers, but will meet the needs of the few readers who want very specific, cutting edge writing. As long as there is a profit, there will be a publisher for each reader. Heck, there might even be “Primary” publishers that specialize in “growing” authors…publishing books of newbies for minor pay that allows word-of-mouth to introduce the writer to the reading world.
What do you think?