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They're relying too much on blockbusters. A book that comes out of nowhere and seizes the readership by storm is going to burn much hotter than a book that grew its readership much slower over time. They want books that can reach the stratospheric heights of bestsellerdom, and if the most influential and connected readers have already read the book, then they figure it's much harder to build that critical mass of word-of-mouth than a book that takes everyone by storm.

That seems to be the logic, at least: that they want books that burn hot, not books that burn long. And it's a flaw in their business model that will ultimately sink them.
 

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Take the following with your preferred level of salt:

What I heard was that publishers stopped offering print-only deals because they didn't need to. Enough authors were willing to sell the farm at knock-down rates.

As to the idea that a self-publisher could tap out the market for readers... well that's pretty analogue thinking. I suspect the truth is more like "we can't do much more to push the book than this author has already done, so it's a risk picking this up."
 

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dgaughran said:
Take the following with your preferred level of salt:

What I heard was that publishers stopped offering print-only deals because they didn't need to. Enough authors were willing to sell the farm at knock-down rates.

As to the idea that a self-publisher could tap out the market for readers... well that's pretty analogue thinking. I suspect the truth is more like "we can't do much more to push the book than this author has already done, so it's a risk picking this up."
The idea that a trad publisher with all their experience and resources can't do much more than the indie author -- says to me a lot about the "marketing" abilities that some trad publishers bring to the table.

Because shouldn't the trad publisher be able to do so much more? You'd think so. ???
 

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Drew Gideon said:
They don't *need* to tap the indie market.
They still have hundreds of full manuscripts filling their slush pile every week.
Exactly.

I know two talented writers from my writing groups who are still making the query rounds. And when an agent or publisher asks to see more these writers are willing to wait MONTHS (in one case close to a year already) to hear back.

It's like some strange variation of Stockholm syndrome.
 

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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.
My thoughts exactly.
 

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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.
Bingo.
 

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From spending 3 years in the "indie" industry as everything from writer, publisher, formatter, to advertiser, I think I would only sign a deal with a trad pub if they let me be me. By that I would say:

* Let's release the backlist as print, but not expect much.
* Let's plan an aggressive strategy of release for a NEW series where you're going to have to work as fast as I do. Want to do a 3 novel set, fine, I'll write them, you plan a release every 3 months for each title.
* Don't give me an advance, let's just work in a partnership and I get my cut of the royalties which WILL be 40%
* Don't think anything else I do at the same time robs your pocket. it helps it, keeping my readership engaged is #1 priority. It's MY readership, I am only sharing profits with you for your increased distribution network.

Then I will get laughed out of the room and be okay with the 4 figure salary I'm making each month on my books all by my lonesome self. The writing on the wall is that publishers are becoming distributors and they don't like that.
 

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The idea that a trad publisher with all their experience and resources can't do much more than the indie author -- says to me a lot about the "marketing" abilities that some trad publishers bring to the table.
This is true in any industry (and I work in marketing). The thing is, no one knows your product like you do, and no one can sell your product like you can. The best circumstance is a marketing department that works closely with you to augment your message by "verbifying" first words in sentences, sneaking "you" into the copy, and making sure your emails, banners, landing pages have great big calls to action; marketers can be great at the technical aspects of the sale.

But I don't know if the Big 5 or 6 give that to authors.

The writing on the wall is that publishers are becoming distributors and they don't like that.
Yes, I would agree with this.
 

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Chrissy said:
The idea that a trad publisher with all their experience and resources can't do much more than the indie author -- says to me a lot about the "marketing" abilities that some trad publishers bring to the table.

Because shouldn't the trad publisher be able to do so much more? You'd think so. ???
You would think so.

I think that all they know how to sell anymore is books by brand name authors that virtually sell themselves.
 

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Elizabeth Ann West said:
From spending 3 years in the "indie" industry as everything from writer, publisher, formatter, to advertiser, I think I would only sign a deal with a trad pub if they let me be me. By that I would say:

* Let's release the backlist as print, but not expect much.
* Let's plan an aggressive strategy of release for a NEW series where you're going to have to work as fast as I do. Want to do a 3 novel set, fine, I'll write them, you plan a release every 3 months for each title.
* Don't give me an advance, let's just work in a partnership and I get my cut of the royalties which WILL be 40%
* Don't think anything else I do at the same time robs your pocket. it helps it, keeping my readership engaged is #1 priority. It's MY readership, I am only sharing profits with you for your increased distribution network.

Then I will get laughed out of the room and be okay with the 4 figure salary I'm making each month on my books all by my lonesome self. The writing on the wall is that publishers are becoming distributors and they don't like that.
Actually, all this is pretty close to my Montlake deal. (Except I got a nice advance too.) it's also 6 months from ms delivery to publication of first book. They offered me a choice of 8 months with time to send print copies around to the various magazines etc., or 6 months and release in a better month. I went for the 6. In terms of the non-compete etc.--everything was very reasonable. Much better than what I've heard about NY pubs. Just as a point of interest.

(They are only doing a few multi-book deals now though from what I've been told. Just as a FYI. Same with Amazon Crossing--picking up one book and seeing how it does before committing to more. I got a two-book deal which seemed like a low number to me, but apparently not, apparently that is good.)

Of course, you aren't really getting paperback with an Amazon imprint, so there's that. But romance is so increasingly ebook.

In case that is helpful.
 

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The thing is that publishers have always been book suppliers, not book sellers. It was always the bookstores and chains that did the selling. Publishers are fighting tooth and nail to save that system.

As far as the bookstores turning down coops for previously indie books if true it sounds more like a revenge move than a rational one. There are more than a few stores who consider indies to be their enemies for working with Amazon, so I suppose that is possible. I honestly can't think of any other rationale, but it is hearsay after all so may not be true.
 

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The argument that bookstores don't want indie paperbacks in their stores is baloney. Bookstores have little room for books period, it's mostly toys and novelty stuff now.

I think the truth is the data shows that the model of traditional publishing speed is finally catching up to them. They don't compete with one of us, but with ALL of us. In 2011, I sold like $30 worth of paperbacks. Total. Not each month, TOTAL after like 2 years after the release all counted up.  My reboot of my writing career this summer, I haven't sold less than $100 in paperback sales (with like a $1 royalty so I can keep them cheap) in a month so far. It's not much, I'm just a little shrimp in the ocean, but there are a lot more shrimp starting to add up and the whales are feeling crowded.

 

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Interesting thought,
I can get Joe (pick one) or Russell or any other POD author at my local Hastings or BN.  As long as I give them cash upfront and wait a week or more for the book to come in.
 
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cinisajoy said:
Interesting thought,
I can get Joe (pick one) or Russell or any other POD author at my local Hastings or BN. As long as I give them cash upfront and wait a week or more for the book to come in.
Wait, am I one of the Joes that you mentioned? Because if you could order one of my books at your local bookstore and send me a picture of it, I would be tickled to see it. Heck, I'll throw in a free ebook just for the heck of it! (except don't order my books yet, I'm redoing the covers of my novels and the new ones should look much better).
 

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cinisajoy said:
Interesting thought,
I can get Joe (pick one) or Russell or any other POD author at my local Hastings or BN. As long as I give them cash upfront and wait a week or more for the book to come in.
You can do this anywhere. But then again, why not order online and have it delivered to your door? I think this is the main competition that bookshops are facing. They have limited shelf space. the internet does not. People like as much choice as possible in books.
 

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Kristin and I were told by two publishers in early 2012 that "Everyone who would ever read WOOL has already read it." That's when it had sold around 50,000 copies. So the market for that book was less than the number of people living in my home town, and there was nothing the publisher could do to win over a few hundred thousand new readers.

Since that proclamation, the series has sold over two million extra copies. So just because publishers are saying something -- and acting on those beliefs -- doesn't make them right. It's just another excuse for their caution. Of course they've been burned by a few acquisitions. The majority of their books don't sell well. And it'll always be for some reason (vampires are so done; no one reads urban fantasy anymore; books this long don't sell) when the truth is that the market is variable, no one knows why some things take off and others don't, and publishers succeed by throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what sticks, and reading way too much into what doesn't.

Of course, the point Kristin is making is one of especial importance to her: Publishers aren't picking up self-pub titles with the same wild abandon as before. But remember that the period of comparison is the post-50-Shades insanity where every publisher was looking for the next breakout that would sell hundreds of millions of copies. That was irrational exuberance. And this is the over-correction the opposite direction. Things will settle somewhere in-between.
 

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Hugh Howey said:
Of course they've been burned by a few acquisitions. The majority of their books don't sell well. And it'll always be for some reason (vampires are so done; no one reads urban fantasy anymore; books this long don't sell) when the truth is that the market is variable, no one knows why some things take off and others don't, and publishers succeed by throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what sticks, and reading way too much into what doesn't.
This isn't helped by the fact that large bookstores have a horrible return policy, and the books get such a tiny window to break out before they get returned. Bookstores often order a large number of copies of a single book, and if it doesn't sell well immediately, they'll return most of them. Worse, mass market paperbacks are often strip-cover returns, meaning that the front cover is stripped from the book and returned to the publisher while the rest of the book is dumped in the recycling bin, so they have to print the books, then they lose the stock on a return, and then they have to print the books again when another bookstore orders more.
 

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Hugh Howey said:
And it'll always be for some reason (vampires are so done; no one reads urban fantasy anymore; books this long don't sell) when the truth is that the market is variable, no one knows why some things take off and others don't, and publishers succeed by throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what sticks, and reading way too much into what doesn't.
Yes, and if it doesn't stick *immediately* they are onto the next new thing. So shortsighted!
 
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