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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just read this interesting article from agent Kristin Nelson's newsletter. She basically said that it's getting harder for self published books to be picked up by traditional publishers because the market gets tapped out:

For example, an attending agent highlighted that a St. Martin's editor was willing to go on record to explain exactly why her house will no longer buy indie authors who have self-published ebooks that have gone on to be wildly successful. St. Martin's claims their data shows that the ebook sales have already tapped out the market.

This wasn't a surprise to me; it's not the first time I've heard it. I've also heard that even if a publisher buys a successful indie title intending to publish a trade paperback edition, and even if they're willing to pay bookstore co-op, booksellers are reluctant to grant that title the physical retail space. They are simply turning down the co-op offer.

Without the support of booksellers, it's going to be difficult for a publisher to make such a buy a success.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
HSh said:
Well maybe if they didn't charge twice as much for the same book? :-/
I read the article as saying, when a publisher buys the print rights, they find that readers have already purchased the ebook and therefore won't purchase print--I don't think this is about them upping the price of pre-existing ebooks.
 

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bethrevis said:
I read the article as saying, when a publisher buys the print rights, they find that readers have already purchased the ebook and therefore won't purchase print--I don't think this is about them upping the price of pre-existing ebooks.
Yeah, that's how I read it, too. And that's a bunch of crap. There are many readers who prefer the paperbacks (eek) over the e-books.
 

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bobbic said:
Yeah, that's how I read it, too. And that's a bunch of crap. There are many readers who prefer the paperbacks (eek) over the e-books.
But enough to sustain a major book deal?

It seems like publishers would have more success purchasing print rights for smaller figures from more indie authors than from just a few really well known indie authors for big bucks. Then again, smaller book deals = smaller marketing budgets and fewer bookstore co-ops...
 

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What kills me is there have been several of my favorite indie authors who have sold their series to a NY publisher and then the new books were far more expensive and lacked that raw edge the previous ones had.  Like the editors in that house forced them to change their writing so that it wasn't the same anymore.  Not sure if others have noticed that, but it really saddened me since I loved that author's writing until that point.
 

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I feel that this is very short sighted of the publisher.  They are struggling with the industry and her logic is correct.  Why buy a book that already sold, it's a day late and a dollar short.  If there was any money to be made on the print side, they would, but they can't or won't because if I had to guess, it involves a large upfront capital investment.  Risk they are not willing to accept.

This is exactly what I would expect to hear from someone looking for employees, not someone or a brand to invest in.  Why would any self published author hand over their successful brand to a company that can't be bothered to invest in them?

But what about the next book, the next series that already has an established fan base?  Sure, past success does not guarantee future performance, but that publisher sounds like they are out for a quick buck at the cost of the author and that is it.
 

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A lot of people in the industry are still assuming that the great unwashed body of self publishers is clamouring to be thrown scraps of a book deal from them. This is their loss, because many of us are no longer interested. I would be interested, though, in a print only deal.
 

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Patty Jansen said:
A lot of people in the industry are still assuming that the great unwashed body of self publishers is clamouring to be thrown scraps of a book deal from them. This is their loss, because many of us are no longer interested. I would be interested, though, in a print only deal.
Print only is the way I'm trying to go with my current publishers. The problem: $100M they've earned off me. Also, they've always hated that I went independent.
 

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NoahMullette-Gillman said:
There are a lot of people in the world. If the publishers can't find a writer new customers which they couldn't reach on their own - then what's the point of them?
Yes, exactly. They seem to be admitting that they don't even know how to sell books that have already proven popular with readers.

There are vast numbers of people who only read print books. Even my girlfriend had never bought an ebook until last weekend.
 

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bethrevis said:
Just read this interesting article from agent Kristin Nelson's newsletter. She basically said that it's getting harder for self published books to be picked up by traditional publishers because the market gets tapped out:
I took this to also mean that the e-book market had already been exhausted because of the book's pre-existing success there. So maybe the publisher was thinking that the print market alone wasn't worth it, to make the investment in the deal?

I still think there would be money to be made, even with that scenario. But if this is what St. Martin's is saying, maybe I'm wrong...
 

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I think it depends on what market we're talking about. Domestic maybe. I've had approaches for German, Italian and audio rights for 2 of my three series. But the agents I've spoken to weren't interested in repubbing my books domestically, it's true. But like Patty says, I'd need a reason to repub.

Also RE NINC I'd have to wonder if the dozens of NA Romance titles picked up by pubs (including SMP) in a frenzy have come back to bite them. If the titles sold 50,000-100,000 copies in six months at indie prices, then it's no surprise that the readership doesn't want to pay $8.99 for the ebook and $12.99 for the print version. (Edited to add: I mention NAR because several of my friends in spec have been picked up by the Big6 in the past two quarters. So the article and reference to NINC just seems to be true for NA more than any other category of selfpub.)

susan_illene said:
What kills me is there have been several of my favorite indie authors who have sold their series to a NY publisher and then the new books were far more expensive and lacked that raw edge the previous ones had.
Not only that but many of those authors just seem to 'disappear'. They stop publishing or wait two years for their trad publisher to put product out and they disappear from the race even if they're still putting a book out occasionally.
 

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LJ said:
I took this to also mean that the e-book market had already been exhausted because of the book's pre-existing success there. So maybe the publisher was thinking that the print market alone wasn't worth it, to make the investment in the deal?

I still think there would be money to be made, even with that scenario. But if this is what St. Martin's is saying, maybe I'm wrong...
I've worked with nearly every one of the big SIX. Making it in the print market alone is nearly impossible for any publisher, including the big SIX publishers.

I'm hopeful of getting more print-only deals though, as my books tend to sell well in translation, adaptation, and other rights outside the US.

That said, I don't think many publishers will admit how much they rely on non-print income to break even / make money.

Robert Stanek
 

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Robert Stanek said:
I've worked with nearly every one of the big SIX. Making it in the print market alone is nearly impossible for any publisher, including the big SIX publishers.

I'm hopeful of getting more print-only deals though, as my books tend to sell well in translation, adaptation, and other rights outside the US.

That said, I don't think many publishers will admit how much they rely on non-print income to break even / make money.

Robert Stanek
Thank you, Robert. This is so interesting. We're all aware of how fast the market is changing, but really, it's just fascinating watching this happen in real time.
 

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This wasn't a surprise to me; it's not the first time I've heard it. I've also heard that even if a publisher buys a successful indie title intending to publish a trade paperback edition, and even if they're willing to pay bookstore co-op, booksellers are reluctant to grant that title the physical retail space. They are simply turning down the co-op offer.

Without the support of booksellers, it's going to be difficult for a publisher to make such a buy a success.
I think a lot of people are missing this part, and it's important. If bookstores won't give the books space as a co-op, they won't sell nearly as well. Books need that space, and the push they get from being located in prime locations like the center aisle and near the cash register, to really move. And if they don't sell well enough to get on the bestseller list, publishers probably wouldn't consider them a good investment once the ebook market is already tapped out.
 

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LJ said:
Thank you, Robert. This is so interesting. We're all aware of how fast the market is changing, but really, it's just fascinating watching this happen in real time.
Fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It's been a rollercoaster and a whirlwind. Hard to even predict where we'll be a year from now.
 

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ShayneRutherford said:
I think a lot of people are missing this part, and it's important. If bookstores won't give the books space as a co-op, they won't sell nearly as well. Books need that space, and the push they get from being located in prime locations like the center aisle and near the cash register, to really move. And if they don't sell well enough to get on the bestseller list, publishers probably wouldn't consider them a good investment once the ebook market is already tapped out.
It was incredibly hard to get any of my independent books into stores in the early 2000s and the struggle hasn't gotten any easier. It's actually gotten harder.

Given the current changes, I'm surprised there still are bookstores in the US. I think we might see a transition to mediastores: devices, books, and more.

Thanks!

Robert Stanek
 
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Why would you want to be picked up by traditional publishing? I've BTDT and can't imagine ever going back. I'm lucky enough to earn as much (more recently) doing indie as I did trad, so maybe I can't appreciate the other side of it. IME, I wouldn't go with trad. publishing again if they paid me. LOL.
 
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