I published a link to a Publisher’s Weekly article earlier today on my Facebook author page (www.facebook.com/cindydeesauthor) that said 450,000+ self-published e-books and 300,000+ self-published print books were released this year.
Whoa. That’s a LOT of new books. And to think: many, many self-published e-books are being released without ISBN numbers generated by Bowker, who came up with these statistics.
I don’t know about you, but these numbers and across the boards sales declines for self-published authors (being blamed at the moment on the launch of the Kindle Unlimited program) give me pause.
What does it mean for self-publishing in the near future?
My best guess is that it will be more important than ever to write a high-quality book and that it’s going to be harder than ever for readers to find it. This leaves you two choices: 1) market more aggressively and/or 2) be more patient in the pursuit of success. (Which is a nice way of saying that you should it expect it to take longer to achieve success and that your sales numbers will likely build more slowly than authors have been reporting over the past few years.)
It’s going to start mattering more than ever that authors have a backlist of titles. Why, you ask?
Readers are going to be looking for clues of who the “real” writers are and who the pretenders are. If you don’t have other writing credentials to your name–print published books with major publishers, bestseller status, or hundreds upon hundreds of reviews–one of the clues readers will have that you’re the real deal will be a decent backlist. It’ll show readers that you’re not a one-book wonder or an amateur hobbyist who thought to himself or herself, “How hard can it be to write a book?”
Good reviews will continue to matter, as will word of mouth from your fans to their reader friends. It’s going to be all about getting the word out that you are a legitimate author who delivers great reads in whatever genre you have branded yourself in.
The sad truth is, though, that just because you write a great book or several great books, you have no guarantee of selling a lot of books. More than ever, it’s going to take perseverance and determination to survive and thrive as an author.
Funny, but when I first broke into print publishing twelve years ago, the norm was to write for around a decade before making a first sale. Now, although an author can publish right away, significant sales may take upwards of that decade to unfold. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?
At the end of the day, it takes three things to succeed as an author in the commercial fiction market:
1) good books
2) good timing
3) good luck
And apparently, that hasn’t changed one bit with the advent of the self-publishing revolution.