Modern Authors Have a Brave New Publishing World
The giddy gold-rush days are over. Over. Now it’s Corporate Dystopia from here on out. Amazon vs. You.
This came up as a point in a recent post by David Gaughran (https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/whos-pointing-at-you/). This was the guy that probably first called the Amazon algorithm by that name. (There’s even one character who built a whole course based on Gaughran’s book.)
Separately, there are some hints that building an audience through normal organic means are also over. This was compiled from observations by various resources, such as Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn, and Jane Friedman. Essentially, unless you advertise, you can’t get an easy audience through Amazon sales. And if you can’t get the sales, then you can’t get people to opt-in to your list.
All three of these sources hold the basic premise that you have to have a list to get anywhere. (Conventional wisdom at work.)
According to that conventional wisdom model, authors who have more than a couple-dozen books are now going to have a real business in advertising to keep their sales up, to correct their “also-boughts” and to ensure sales. Sales are necessary to build lists, lists are necessary to build sales. Advertising is the grease in between that makes everything work. Advertising needs sales to pay for them.)
And as Steve Scott says, “Amazon works as well as you feed them.”
Single authors have to start a business from the beginning, and have to need an extensive background in marketing to succeed. Which means they don’t hire a one-off marketing company to just get one book to rank. You’re going to have to have a partner, for exchange of part of your profits.
The other option is that you spend months learning this stuff and do your full homework with lots of tests. Lots of tests. And no one course has all this data. Expect to shell out thousands.
That’s if you follow conventional wisdom, and the way Amazon has set up their unique algorithms. you’re going to have to constantly keep up with their changes. A trick on its own.
The state of the market is saturation, and at a peak curve of adoption. This is what you see with the recent articles about whether ebooks are declining in sales. Practically, the only major expansion for ebooks is in Europe and Asia, but you won’t see a jump like it happened in the U.S.
Again, it goes back to the point that authors are making their best breakthroughs by having very diversified product lines. All versions of books. And also moving over to courses and other products completely beyond Amazon. This is the point of actually running a business out of publishing.
This is just to say that the market is saturated against new material being published. Sure, people still want books. The trick is going to be harvesting the Long Tail to get your finances. Don’t count on Amazon to cover more than half your income so you can’t get shafted if/when Amazon goes south. You also have to add that Amazon has been stacking the decks for people who are exclusively inside their walled garden.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying that the sharks are circling and free style swimming without also learning defensive moves isn’t an option.
Wanted to give you a heads up.
Also published on Medium.