Here is encouragement for Indie novelists. The new world many be tough but look at these figures garnered from British sources.
'Self-publishing and Ebooks on the rise
What the 2013 figures do show is that self-publishing in both ebook and paper book formats is really taking off. Paperback sales through Lulu rose 38% and CreateSpace sales were up a massive 161%. This is bound to send shivers of fear through the boardrooms of the publishing industry. Half of all book sales (both traditional and self-published) in the UK are now through Amazon.'
I call that definite encouragement for us Indies.
'Rumours that ebook sales are flat-lining are untrue. Obviously they aren’t soaring at the goldrush rates that happened in the beginning, but they’re now climbing at more realistic levels. According to Nielsen, ebook sales across the industry were up 20% overall in 2013 and readers spent more than £300m buying at least 80m ebooks. This accounted for more than a quarter of all book purchases. One in five of these sales (12% of all sales) was an ‘Indie’ book. Early figures from the first three months of 2014 show that the moment when ebook sales will overtake paper book sales is very close and the percentage of ‘Indie’ books is also rising fast, particularly in the USA. In the UK Tesco have just launched their own ebook platform Blinkbox Books with a reading tablet called the Hudl (who thought that one up?). It’s too early to tell where this will go, or whether this is a significant opportunity for Indies, though they’ve apparently sold 500,000 Hudls so far.'
Come on Indies. leap into the new market and put your books out with Blinkbox.
'Ebook Fiction up from £4m to £200m
The Bookseller also released some interesting publisher statistics that give a bit more information about what is really happening within the genre divisions. In 2013 paper book sales of fiction were down from £561m to £400m, but ebook sales of fiction are up from only £4m to a whopping £200m in the same period. Non-fiction suffered less, with only a minor shift from paper to ebook, but children’s paper book sales dropped £35m without any compensation in digital sales – bad news for children’s authors. But many children are reading on i-pads – particularly i-pad minis. My 4 year old grand-daughter reads a lot on her i-pad mini and loves interactive books. Her mother (a publishing professional with one of the Big 5) reads on the i-pad when it’s not otherwise engaged. Authors need to think about Apple much more seriously as a market for books. It may well become bigger than Kindle.'
This is great news. A good start to the New Year and great that Apple will be giving Amazon a run for its money. We need them to be in competition.
'What does it all mean?
The future for ebooks is bright. This doesn’t mean that they’ll replace paperbooks entirely, but there will be more of an even balance between E and paper sales. It also means that there will be more opportunities for Indies, but we’re going to have to be more pro-active in marketing ourselves against increasing opposition from the traditional publishing sector. The problem of visibility also increases as there are more and more authors clamouring to sell themselves in the self-published arena. We’re probably going to be forced to buy in marketing as well as editorial services if we want to be seen, but there are lots of refugees from the Big 5 offering their experience freelance.'
Note the Marketing call Indies. We have to do a good job for ourselves. Get that support group going and growing.
'The rosy dawn of self-publishing is over – it’s now a serious business and we are in competition with traditional industry professionals who won’t necessarily play fair. They see themselves as the legitimate land-owners and ourselves as the barbarian hordes. Naturally, they want to protect their commercial interests from the self-published invaders. We will have to think about how we organise ourselves to cope with a probable book war in the near future. The Hachette/Amazon conflict, recently settled, is only the beginning. But history is on our side – the mighty Roman Empire fell to the Barbarians eventually!'
It seems to me, oh new world novelists, that we have a golden opportunity here to stop worrying about advances, royalties and the nasty tricks of traditional publishers. Let's start the New Year with confidence, there is evidence that we are going to survive as novelists. Indies of course!