Guess What? Readers don’t care HOW you publish your book, as long as it is a GOOD book!
Back before the Kindle era began in late 2007, publishing was a pretty linear endeavor. You could seek out traditional publishing, which meant everything from small and medium presses to large traditional publishing houses OR you could pay a vanity press for the privilege of ending up with cases of your books stashed in your garage, often for exorbitant fees.
Throughout the 80s & 90s there were a variety of systems that came (and mostly went) to aid authors in bypassing the gatekeepers at traditional publishers (aka legacy publishers – if I’m being snarky), but the real change that made independent publishing (aka self-publishing) accessible and reasonably priced was Amazon’s arrival on the scene with the print-on-demand Create Space eStore (founded in 2000/acquired by Amazon in 2005) and the Kindle publishing system for ebooks. These modules were accessible and easy to use and bypassed the usurious fees of the vanity press, allowing authors to pretty much go straight to readers with their offerings albeit mostly via the Amazon store. Not only did Amazon revolutionize reading-on-the-go, but it also put authors solidly in the driver’s seat.
And readers benefited by having access to even more books that would not otherwise have made it through the seemingly impossible challenge of the traditional publishing curation gauntlet – er – process.
And guess what?
Readers (mostly) do not care how you publish your book. They just care if it is a GOOD book.
And there’s the crux of the issue. . . A GOOD BOOK!!
(And it must be said that some of these indie books probably shouldn’t have been published without a whole heck of lot more of editing or better covers and so on. But that criticism aside, I would say authors and readers have benefited overall.)
Since the industry opened up, an increasing number of books have been published independently every year. January 2023 stats from https://wordsrated.com/self-published-book-sales-statistics/ are really interesting*:
- 30-34% of all ebooks sold are self-published.
- 300 million self-published books are sold each year.
- The number of self-published books has increased by 264% in the last five years.
- $1.25 billion worth of self-published books is sold each year.
- Amazon pays $520 million in royalties to self-published authors each year.
- 67% of top-rated, self-published books are written by women, compared to just 39% of traditionally published books. (Now isn’t that an interesting statistic.)
- Of authors who have published their first book in the last 10 years:
- 1,200 traditionally published authors have earned $25,000+ a year.
- 1,600 self-published authors have earned $25,000+ a year.
Wow! Those earnings stat comparisons are powerful.
I think it’s interesting to look back on how far we’ve come since the industry was bemoaning its pending downfall when the Kindle was introduced and indie publishing took off. “Digital books will kill the publishing industry” was the mantra of the day. And even though traditional publishers were slow to embrace the digital revolution, embrace it they did in order to stay competitive.
Today, as a reader I enjoy most books on an ereader (tradition and indie alike) . I have the Kindle, Nook, and iBook apps on my tablet and use them interchangeably, depending on where I’ve purchased the book. I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription that allows me to read books enrolled in that program for a flat fee each month, too. (As I read late at night, it is better for marital contentment to use an ereader than a physical book requiring a bedside light!)
As authors we are lucky to have so many publishing paths open to us, and as readers we are also lucky to have such a vast selection of books to choose from. Independent publishing has allowed for an author-centric market shift on the production side and reader-centric on the consumer side. And so far, the traditional publishing industry has adapted and survived.
So, I’m curious . . .
Do you notice if a book is independently or traditional published and does it impact your decision to buy the book?
What is your preferred book retailer?
Do you use an ereader regularly? What’s your favorite platform? (Nook / Kindle / Kobo / iBooks etc.)
*Note: I did not independently verify these statistics.