by Mike O’Mary
Two weeks ago, I talked about the revolution in the book publishing industry. No big secret, right? Everybody knows that we are in the midst of a major shift from print to digital in the publishing industry. And everybody is speculating about what that means for the “industry” – from the big publishing houses to indie publishers to agents to best-selling authors (who are now passing on six-figure advances because they don’t want to give up their digital rights!) to self-published authors (who would probably gladly give up their digital rights for a six-figure advance!).
Below are links to a couple of really great recent blog posts about changes in the publishing industry, and about the possible ramifications. Read them when you have a few minutes, but then come back because I have some really exciting news for freelancers, even if you’ve never written a book and never plan to…
The Relationship Between Authors, Agents and Publishers by John Rember (Writer’s Digest “There are No Rules” blog, 3/9/11)
[Full disclosure: John Rember is author of MFA in a Box, recently published by Dream of Things, my “nontraditional” publishing company.]
Barry Eisler is one of the aforementioned best-selling authors who passed on a six-figure advance in order to self-publish his newest book. Lots of good discussion between Eisler and Konrath, the latter being perhaps the most outspoken advocate of self-publishing ebooks. (And why not…according to him, he’s selling about 1,500 copies a day of one of his ebooks!)
Here’s the exciting news for freelancers: In the Eisler/Konrath dialog, Konrath notes that Eisler is on track to make about $30,000 this year on a self-published short story! Why is that exciting for freelancers? If you write short stories, the answer is obvious. But the key word here is SHORT! With e-readers, you don’t need to have a book-length work to sell. If someone can e-publish a short story and sell if for $2.99, why couldn’t you also e-publish and sell short nonfiction? It could be travel writing…or an interview you did with somebody…or an article of advice for freelancers…or ANYTHING! The point is that you don’t need to have a book-length work to publish an e-“book.” Your e-publication can be any length you want, and you can price it accordingly. So write a kick-ass travel article today, e-publish it tomorrow, and sell 2,000 copies at $.99 per copy. That should help make up for the shrinking market for freelance publishing opportunities in print.
If you give this a try – or if you’ve already done it – let me know. I’m curious to hear the experience of other people with ebooks. Meantime, I’m doing my part as a nontraditional, indie publisher: I just put two of my newest releases — Saying Goodbye and Everything I Never Wanted to Be — on Amazon’s Kindle Store, not at the traditional $9.99 ebook price, but at $2.99. I’d rather sell 1,000 copies at $2.99 than 10 copies at $9.99. I’ll let you know how it goes.