The proliferation of the self-publishing industry augmented by print-on-demand technology is a good thing. The stigma attached to these books as being of poor quality is a bad thing. This is but one of the problems associated with Independent books trying to find space in the traditional marketplace of bookselling. The biggest publishers have been successful at associating self-publishing with the complete and total lack of editorial control. This in turn results in Independent books being perceived as not worth reading.
The only way for Independent books to reverse this and gain acceptance as well as sales in either the traditional or specialty marketplace is to establish themselves as a viable entity. The first step is to make certain that the book you publish is as good editorially as possible. The second step is to direct your audience from Amazon to websites that focus on Independently published books. This will not happen overnight, but it’s a start.
There are two distinct markets for books, the traditional includes all the major bookstore chains, booksellers, and retail outlets that sell books. The other is everything else, often referred to as the “specialty” market. The six largest publishers in the world, control, dominate, and subsidize the traditional marketplace. Self-published, print-on-demand, and small publishers that utilize POD technology fight and scratch for placement, acceptance, and sales in the traditional world. Unfortunately that is the wrong market to spend your time and money.
The only way the Independent author can find a place for themselves in the traditional market is to establish a niche outside of that world, develop a community, create a voice, and begin to stand on your own. This is what is meant by taking control and is the first step to acceptance in the traditional market. Trying to find your way in the traditional market for book sales without being on the inside has created numerous problems. This is the reason Amazon was comfortable with the move they made recently. I’ll be writing about solutions to the problems over the next few days.
Large booksellers have always used their strength in the market to force the biggest publishers into compliance in a number of areas, this is nothing new. In the past it has always been subtle requests for more advertising allowances, placement fees, money for newsletters or in store promotions, you name it and they seemed to always find a way to tap into the pockets of publishers for money. The recent move by Amazon (www.amazon.com) to force the small print-on-demand companies and even smaller self-published authors to use their own printing company for books is the most blatant I’ve ever seen in almost 30 years in publishing. The fact that Amazon made this move is not the problem, it’s the fact that the authors and publishers feel they have to comply that’s the biggest problem. I’m going to explain what’s happening and why, and offer solutions over the next few days.