For the past decade, I’ve made my living writing computer books such as “Microsoft Office for Dummies” and “My New Mac.” Over the years, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. As book prices continued to creep up and people have more options for entertainment, printed books are no longer as profitable as they once were.
Independent book stores got wiped out by mega-bookstores like Borders. Then Borders got wiped out by Internet book ordering through Amazon.com and the rise of e-books that allow instantaneous distribution to e-readers or computing devices like smart phones and tablets. The end result is that the traditional printed book business model is dead.
Typically, most companies don’t last much beyond their 100th birthday because by then, their business model is too antiquated and they can’t change fast enough to survive. Think of all those companies that once sold buggy whips, slide rulers, or typewriters. Today’s publishers like Random House and John Wiley have been around for more than 100 years, but with electronic distribution, expect these publishers to disappear within a few years. There’s simply no future for traditional book publishers with declining profits and distribution as book stores go bankrupt.
While some authors cling to the false hope that printed books will somehow survive the recession and make a comeback, that’s like hoping the Titanic will suddenly right itself and float once more. It’s far safer to prepare for the future than hope that the present never changes from the past.
If you’re interested in publishing a manuscript, the future is electronic self-publishing. Not only do you get the bulk of the profits, but you nobody can turn you down and keep your manuscript from being seen by the public. Self-publishing for authors is no longer an option of last resort but the preferred and new publishing business model.
So the focus of this blog will be on helping authors take advantage of their self-publishing options from learning physical file formats to understanding the different self-publishing options available, to marketing your e-book so you can actually make money.
Electronic publishing options are simply overwhelming, so I’ll do my best to cut through the clutter and explain how and why to choose a particular option. To some authors, the shifting business model of publishing is cause for terror, but for me, it’s a wide open opportunity that smart authors will exploit and profit from while selling more books than ever before.
As an author, your future is clear. You can either hide your head in the sand and try to follow the traditional, dying book business model, or you can take the leap of faith and figure out the new technology of publishing. You’ll likely wind up hitting dead ends and making lots of mistakes, but the potential is a jackpot at the end of the rainbow. The potential of traditional publishing is simply hoping that the future will never come, and hope is never a substitute for a solid business plan.