Predictions of the future are often inaccurate in hindsight, but their real value lies in studying the trends. In the publishing industry, Forbes predicts several trends. First, traditional publishers will see margins eroding. With the sales decline of printed books, the high cost of printing books, and the growth of self-publishing, traditional book publishers are getting hammered on all sides.
Although sales of e-books from traditional publishers aren’t growing, sales of self-published e-books is skyrocketing. One huge mistake traditional publishers are making is pricing e-books nearly the same as the printed version. The idea seems to drive people to buy the printed version, but the reality is that it seems to drive people to buy anything but books (or e-books) from traditional publishers.
Sales of dedicated e-readers are dropping while sales of general purpose tablets keep rising. After all, why spend the money on a dedicated e-reader when the same amount of money can buy a general purpose tablet that can do so much more? Anyone wonder why sales of iPods keep dropping every year? It’s because given a choice between buying an iPod or an iPhone, more people are choosing to get an iPhone that can also work like an iPod. When you can buy one device that can replace another device, you don’t need the other device.
So what does this all mean for self-published authors? First, let the traditional publishers die. They’re spending far less time taking chances of unknown authors. Instead, they’re combing the self-published e-book market to find authors who have already proven themselves. Then they snap up these authors to offer them book contracts. So if you really want to increase your odds of getting published, start by self-publishing first. If a traditional publisher picks up your book, great. If not, you’re still building an audience and making money selling your e-book yourself.
Second, start building your audience now through your website and social networks. Even if you don’t have an e-book to sell yet, start building a following. Then when you do get an e-book out on the market, you’ll have a built-in audience willing to buy it.
For your New Year’s resolution, you first need to start designing your author’s platform and nurturing an audience through a website and social network. Then you need to write e-books to sell. Those two tasks (developing a fan base and writing e-books) are the two most crucial tasks you can tackle for the coming year.
Then next year when Forbes predicts the shape of the publishing industry, you’ll be further ahead to take advantage of the self-publishing world of e-books.