Each month Romancing the Genre bloggers are given a group theme to kickstart our blogging muse. In July, many of us are using the titles of movies or books for inspiration. After scanning lists of movie titles, I settled on CLUELESS. Though I haven’t watched this movie, the title seemed apropos as a header for some random thoughts about writing and authors.
I just returned from five days at the RWA National conference in Atlanta, attended by some 2,000 women and a handful of brave male authors (published and unpublished). Every time I go to a writing conference, I realize how little I know about the fast-changing publishing industry—and how often, what I think I know is wrong. The reality is that “facts” learned one or two years ago may be totally outdated and irrelevant in today’s market. As a result, I’ve come to grips with my ignorance. While I’ll always strive to keep learning, I will remain clueless about many aspects of our industry. Here are just a few of the tidbits I picked up at RWA, which will influence the publishing decisions I make in the coming year.
- In 2011, while self-published authors earned an average of $10,000 a year, the median annual income was $500. Translation: half the authors probably had negative profits, while a small percentage of authors made a bundle.
- Factors related to financial success for the self-pubbed were no surprise. Professional editing and professional covers plus sharing info with fellow authors increased success rates. So did the number of titles an author has to offer readers (more on that later).
- Authors can co-op to split the cost of participating in NetGalley to get manuscripts into the hands of professional reviewers.
- The ability to set up "pre-orders" for ebooks is on the near-term horizon.
- $1.99 appears to be a “black hole” for ebook pricing. E.g. authors who price books at 99 cents or $2.99 will probably make more than if they price their titles at $1.99.
- Digital book readers are said to buy 4.6 x more books (some of them print editions) than print-only readers.
The Rise of ‘Shorts’ or Frequency Matters
- New Amazon Singles and Short Story offerings are growing rapidly.
- Authors are being pushed (even by traditional publishers) to create short works that can be offered between their major releases to keep their names in front of readers.
- Many authors are collaborating on “shorts” for anthologies or collections.
Books Get Voice
- Audio books are growing at an even faster pace than digital books.
- Some 12,000 actor/actress/producers have subscribed to Amazon’s ACX.com (which matches authors with their creative audio counterparts).
- Amazon will be bundling digital & audio versions of books. This will allow a reader to stop reading on the Kindle, get in her car and start listening to the same book precisely where she left off. All automatic. The audio and digital books will be automatically synched.
- The most important thing an author can do to ensure success? Write a GREAT book. No matter how many changes occur in publishing, a good book (once it gains an audience) will have readers eagerly anticipating (and willing to buy) the author’s next novel.
What has surprised you most in the publishing world of 2013?