Home : Indy and Traditional Publishers Are Not Competitors
Today’s post is from Lisa Ryan, CEO and Lead Strategist at Tinley+Ryan, former Marketing Manager of On-Demand Publishing Services at Amazon.com and former Vice President of Marketing at BookSurge. I’m honored to have your contribution, Lisa.

On a macro-level, independent and traditional publishers not only co-exist amicably, they are full-on partners in the publishing and production of books. They are not competitors.

Today, publishers large and small are concerned with digital rights management, monetizing assets like out-of-print titles, and the lightning-speed evolution of alternative format books/readers. Because of these and other economic factors, they work hand-in-hand with digital publishing houses and POD fulfillment providers for support. They in turn support self-published authors. It happens every day. It’s a symbiotic eco-system on the back end, no matter how the surface-level factions consider the issues.

Self-published works provide the data traditional publishers need to take calculated risks on new authors. One initiative we worked on at Amazon was a reporting system that allowed large publishers to monitor the sales velocity of our best-selling self-published titles. We’ve seen some pretty impressive deals come out of that – of note, a three book, six figure deal for a fiction series.

Having said that, a major misconception is that most self-published authors want to be picked up by a traditional publisher. Actually, it’s the contrary. In my experience, the most successful self-published books and authors are in the non-fiction arena – business and self-help books in particular do very well. Most of these authors are professionals in their fields and focus in niche category subsets such as “financial planning for women”. There’s that Long Tail trail.

Self-publishing offers authors the opportunity to become Authorpreneurs.

Business people and professionals use books as marketing tools – putting serious effort into book marketing and the financial investment a book needs for any significant sales penetration. Professionals want to keep the rights to their work and maintain control of their book marketing efforts, branding and internet relationships – for the same reasons you mention. Online selling is huge for independent authors – any author for that matter. Retail giants like Amazon and others level the playing field and provide a powerful sales platform and communications tool for author to connect directly with readers.

The fact is, technology and the internet have changed publishing forever and, rather than going back to the systems of old, it will only evolve. Embrace it and figure out how to make it work for your book(s) and/or business. Google receives 42 billion searches a week for subject matter content – make sure yours is on the list, whether it’s from your hand or your publisher’s.

I do believe that the public will tire of the sea of endless noise out there in social media, commentary at every turn and incredibly bad books. And, I do believe that true, quality content will be left standing at the end of the day. Who controls that content remains to be seen.

I would be surprised, as the future rolls on and our connectedness only increases, if writers or content providers cling to the notion that their work has to be filtered through a system to be considered quality. They can talk directly to readers now with no escort. They can also sell directly to readers—millions of them—who search for, talk about and buy their books online every day.

The economics of that relationship are independent of the form, format, publisher or sales strategy. This helps an author grow and build readership. What better way to spend your time, sell your work and make money as an author?


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