Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are Indie Pubs Selling Themselves Short?

Ebooks or PODs (print on demand) are easy and cheap to publish with the advent of Kindles, iPads and that ilk.Now this movement should produce a large number of (those traditionally known as) vanity books, as well as, many high quality books (perhaps experimental) with which traditional publishers were not willing to take the economic risk. A short definition here: vanity book = some author's poor quality pet project that is not economically viable. The problem here is that you have two types of books bunched into the same indie pub market. The ideal way of distinguishing between the two would be price. Here's where we run into the big problem. Many poor quality book authors drop their price low enough that the average ereader is willing to take a chance on the book. Usually, that price is comparable to garage sale prices. The high quality books can be divided into two groups. Books of authors who's prime directive is to obtain cash and books of authors who's prime directive is to distribute their art to as wide an audience as possible. Do you see the mishagas that results? Poor quality books at rock bottom prices along side high quality art (inventive, experimental) books by artists who snub their noses at the mighty dollar (Euro, Rupal, Yen, etc). On the other hand we have work-a-day authors with quality books wanting to make money. I can guarantee, without seeing the stats, that the quantity of poor quality books far outweighs the high quality books, by simply understanding the human psyche. So we have a market flooded with low cost books. One might see a comparison to the '90 Japanese flooding of the US market with low cost memory cards, driving competitors out of business. So quality indie pubs are getting outsold by crappy books. As their income drops our quality authors lower the price to make up for the loss of income by volume. It doesn't take long for all three types of books to be selling at $.99 a piece. The big loser of course being the authors who are trying to make a living. Now take a look at the books by well known authors that traditional publishers are selling on the emarket. Yes they are selling at a discount from paper books sold in brick and mortar stores (including their Internet outlets), but they are not trying to compete with the indie pubs and their prices remain at high retail market value. Are you indie pubs diluting your marketability by panicking and lowering your prices? I give you an emphatic YES.
If you want to avoid traditional publishing for whatever reason, don't abandon traditional marketing. I'm talking about shutting off your computer, getting off of your lazy asses, and hitting the road, stopping at the high volume booksellers and speak, autograph. Get onto radio and even TV talk shows to promote your books. Show your faces and attempt to become a household name. Yes social media and blogs helps to promote books. But I have never seen such a lazy marketing concept a blog tour.
Consider these two scenarios:
"I just saw a blog by (insert name here) they sound very interesting. I'm thinking of buying their book."
"I just saw (insert name here) speak at Barnes and Noble they presented themselves very well and I got an esignature from them on my copy of their book."
Which author do you think will get noticed and sell books at a higher price?