Episode 56 – Disruption, Grazing, and Worst-Case Scenarios

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On the launch day of Bryan’s new Facebook Event product, Kindle Sales Blowout, and Jim’s new Author Marketing Institute podcast, the Writership Podcast, the dynamic duo tackled the latest in self-publishing tips and news. The trio of tips included what to do in the worst-case scenario, how to come up with new marketing ideas, and giving your backlist new life. The news stories focused on the success secrets of super authors, the decline of indie bookstores in the U.K., how the Tragedy of the Commons theory applies to self-publishing, Facebook’s Contentgeddon, and the future of disruption in the publishing industry. This week’s Question of the Week: What will the reimagination of the publishing industry look like in 2017 and beyond?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • How to get a hold of Bryan’s Facebook Event course
  • Where you can check out the Writership Podcast
  • What to do when the money isn’t coming in
  • How to come up with new marketing ideas
  • Actions you can do to boost your backlist
  • What super successful authors have done to make it
  • Why U.K. indie bookstores are on the decline
  • How the Tragedy of Commons theory doesn’t apply to self-publishing
  • What Facebook’s news feed change could do to your business
  • Where the publishing industry is headed
Links: 
Question of the Week: 
What will the reimagination of the publishing industry look like in 2017 and beyond?

get show updates

  • Leslie Watts

    Thanks you so much, guys! We really appreciate the plug and your support!

    Also, your course looks amazing, Bryan. I’m in!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Leslie! Can’t wait to listen to the show.

  • Here’s the story about Tidal I talked about. http://bgr.com/2015/04/21/tidal-vs-pandora-vs-spotify/

    • Bryan

      Tidal wave? More like tidal drip!

  • Connie B. Dowell

    Great show again today, guys. All the talk about course creation finally made something click for me. I’ve been wanted to make a Udemy course for a while now, but struggled with its marketability. I thought “I’m an academic writing tutor, and while that’s a valuable skill to learn, most folks who need a course in academic writing won’t pay for one.” For whatever reason, today’s show got me thinking and something slid into place. Yes, it would be very hard to market to students, but a course geared toward new tutors might be a different story. There’s certainly a lot that I wish I’d know starting out. Though I don’t know how the insight connected to today’s show, thanks so much for sparking the thought!

    • Bryan

      Great stuff, Connie! Do it!

  • That’s a tough question, things are so fluid, but here’s my guess. If a solid competitor does not arise against Amazon, I would guess that payments to authors via Amazon will shrink in the next two years, as the volume of books is on their portal massive and they need to boost their bottom line, so taking a little more from a lot of people will help. I also think that successful authors will start getting a lot more perks as a way to prop up high income generators. Beginning indy authors will have a lot harder time to rise above the noise and stand out.

    • Bryan

      You’re probably right, Pete. But how will reading be reimagined? Virtual reality? Google Glass?

      • I’m skeptical of both at this point. History tells me that, unless technology is made a
        business need, it rarely gets adopted. We’ve had virtual reality before in the 90s and it never took off. We had 3D in the 2000s. Google glasses have been out a while and no one really knows what to do with them, other than creepy stalker stuff with face recognition, etc. In the next 24 months, I can’t see them taking off. Apple Watches, maybe. Self-driving cars, maybe. Self-programming/fixing technology, probably. At some point, my toilet may be connected to the internet as part of the “internet of everything.” 🙂

        In the 90s, people thought story telling would evolve with video games/shows on their computer or television where the user could pick which path the story would take and that fizzled too. The closest alteration we have with that, from an interactive standpoint, are video games.

        I think we’ll continue to find readers migrating off of ebook readers and onto phones that just keep increasing in size. I think the interface by which people consume books will remain relatively the same. I think, since Homer, people like to absorb well crafted stories told by gifted storytellers.

        • Bryan

          Good points. Thanks!

  • In the UK Waterstones has done very well and spread to most medium sized towns. They offer a wide range and a lot of special deals that independent stores can’t compete with. We do have a thriving second-hand book supply. It’s sad to say that I can’t think of an indie book store within 20 miles.

    • Bryan

      How do you like Waterstones, Mikey?

      • RachelMedhurst

        I have to agree with Mikey. I’m in the UK and have an indie bookshop and a Waterstones in my local town and the indie bookshop prices are much higher. However, the owner will let me put a book on his shelf.

        • Bryan

          It’s good to know the owner. 🙂

      • Waterstones do a good job. Their stores are nicely presented, they carry a good range and often have special offers. I do like their stores BUT it’s a shame they can’t seem to coexist with the indie stores.

    • I wonder if the 1000 true fans model works for indy books stores. How many die hard customers does it take to purchase enough to keep the doors open?

  • Have you heard of Booktrope? They are a hybrid publisher at http://booktrope.com I’m putting a book out with them at the moment and it’s great to be part of a team. I won’t know how sales will go until we launch though.

    • Bryan

      I haven’t. Looks interesting!

  • Emily Scott

    I think we are going to see a bigger gap between self publishers who treat writing as their job and the people who throw up one or two books and hope for the best. Authors who treat this industry as a job have every hope to be “successful” with self publishing, now and moving forward.

    • Bryan

      Agreed, Emily!

  • Great show. I think the future as always is fluid, but the next thing is obviously audio. It’s growing rapidly already, and will continue to get bigger. Some people believe that video in books will be a “thing” but we’ve all heard that before.

    I don’t think enhanced ebooks will be visual as some imagine, they’ll be audio driven. I don’t mean the current audio book model, that’s its own thing already, I mean a more advanced version of the current text to speech. The current voices are getting better, but they still don’t have the correct cadence. That will be perfected in the next couple of years i think.

    Long term I foresee VR being a goal, but that will probably be maybe five years ahead after the games industry perfects it.

    • Bryan

      Can’t wait for better computerized audio!

  • Jason Fuhrman

    Regarding the Writership podcast. I was eager to listen to the first episode at work BUT it’s only available through itunes, which I can’t stand and won’t use. I’d highly recommend them to post it in an alternate way like you guys do.

    My podcast app on my phone can source itunes feeds, but while at work it would be nice to have it available to stream in a browser.

    • I second Jason on the desire for an alternate way to hear the Writershop podcast. I typically download to my mp3 and listen in the car. Any chance that easy downloading will become available?

    • I’m just happy they do audio. So many new podcasts are hangout/youtube only. I need to listen when I’m not on my computer. Walking, training, or on the road!

  • Love your course, Bryan! I’ve reviewed the pdf and am halfway through the videos and it’s very well done – good job!

    Now for something unrelated to today’s show but current here at home. My hubby did a search for his book title yesterday and discovered this youtube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGhYqcbt0nc – offering his book for free as a pdf download. The download site was lilplay .com and then switched to doitplay .com and is now back to lilplay .com. They look to be some kind of membership site for games, music, movies and books. Have you seen this before? Any ideas what we should do (if anything)? Thanks!

    • I didn’t realize the youtube video was going to show up here like this. Is there a way to show what I’m talking about without it being linked to the video. Or should it just be removed?

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Crystal!

      Don’t worry about the video being posted, it’s a good illustration of your point. If you want to delete it, you can.

      Yeah, stuff like this pops up from time to time. Don’t worry though, it rarely gets much traffic. As I’ve said before, when you get pirated online, it’s another sign that you’ve made it :).

      • Thanks for the speedy response, Bryan. We were hoping it was nothing to worry much about but hadn’t thought of it being a positive sign!

  • A D Davies

    Regarding shipping paperbacks to the UK – if you set up with Ingram Spark, the $49 fee is waived throughout May. You can set up your back-list on there and open up to a lot more paperback markets. Plus, you have the option to ship from their European bases as well as US. Certainly worth doing if you have Createspace copies. You can’t use the Createspace ISBN, but if you have purchased from Bowker you should be able to use that. I believe Ingram can supply one, if you want it.

    • Bryan

      Have you had much success with Ingram Spark, A.D.?

      • A D Davies

        About as much as I’ve had with Createspace, which is to say virtually zero. But then I’m really just starting out (first ebook Nov 2014) so I’m concentrating on building my catalogue at the moment. I’m still only earning 100s rather than 1000s per month from two novels, so i’m probably not the best barometer of IS success (now that’s an unfortunate initial these days). I will say that I find the quality of Ingram Spark’s product to be slightly better than CS, although the best quality POD publisher I’ve found is epubli. They’re a German firm with English language websites. Their value is in the publisher buying the books up-front more cheaply than the other two, and channelling them through their own sites or affiliates, so if you do healthy paperback trade it might be worth looking at. They also STORE the books for you, so you don’t have to clutter up your basement. Also, if you want to send out quality paperback samples, they’re the closest to trad-published standard that I’ve come across, and you can just buy small quanities for your own use rather than publishing through them. To the original question – it’s perhaps worth doing so you get onto British and European internet book sale sites. My novels are both on Waterstone’s website, though not in the physical shops.

        • Bryan

          Got it. You’ll have to keep us up to speed with your results!

        • I’m still confused on whether using them gets your books on Amazon. I use CS, and my books are on various, but not all, Amazon sites, and also on B&N, but if I used Ingram Spark would that still be the case?

          I understand that I can BUY my own books are put them on Amazon, but CS is automatic, integrated, and POD, so nothing to pay for and always ‘in stock.’

          • A D Davies

            Ingram DOES get your books on Amazon but there are two drawbacks: 1) it takes them longer to show up, and 2) the royalties are lower. I know royalties are very low for all POD, but I took the advice of someone who wrote about this a while ago: publish with CS first, and then go with Ingram. It maximises the reach.

            You can use your own ISBN with CS but they penalise you by not allowing you into certain expanded outlets. It’s not that big a-deal for me, as I’ve never sold a book in those outlets anyway, so you can either sacrifice that avenue and hope the IS route sends it there, or do what I do, and just have two ISBN numbers; one for create space, one for everywhere else.

            It would probably get a bit messy if I was selling well in paperback, but I’m not so for now I’m okay with my $10 per month.

        • Never heard of epubli, but they have a nice website. I’m not sure I understand your comment, though. I don’t think they would be cost-effective for those who live outside the UK and/or surrounding countries when it comes to getting your books shipped. The shipping costs alone would be crazy. And I’m pretty sure you’d have to pay a fee to have them store their books for you, whereas Createspace is print-on-demand.

          However, this service looks like it might be a good alternative to CS for those who are in the UK and surrounding countries.

          • A D Davies

            I’m only thinking more of if you have to ship from the US to somewhere in Europe. And you would have do a lot of it for it to be beneficial. Shipping from Createspace is very expensive. When I want a single copy of my book sent to the UK it’s cheaper for me to go to amazon.co.uk and buy it from there. It’s also much faster.

            If you are shipping to the States or mainland North/South America, Createspace and Ingram Spark are still a better option.

          • Ah gotcha. In that case, yes, that would definitely make sense.

  • Honoree Corder

    Another great episode! I’m not sure what will happen next, but I’m pretty sure it’ll still be “all about the list.”

    • Bryan

      All about that list, bout that list, no Twitter.

  • Daniel Martone

    By 2017, while Amazon will still be king, we will see mini-markets (starting with genre specific work… Fantasy Book site, Romance Weekly Book site, etc.) pop up, which will eventually lead to more direct sales from authors. Google will create a “content specific” search engine allowing people to search specifically for books (as well as music and films)… etc. This will allow Google to sidestep the direct competition with Amazon (which google clearly lost) and rule the book/music/film world through what they do best.

    • Bryan

      See, now that’s what I’m talking about. Good stuff.

  • Denise Bossarte

    I wish I knew what it would look like so I could leverage it!
    A fun question to consider is if Indie authors were in control of this reimagination, what would be on OUR wish list?

    • Bryan

      What would be the answer to your own question, Denise? 🙂

      • Denise Bossarte

        What a challenge! Readers want good stories at a good price. Authors want to share their stories, reach readers, and make some decent money (at least this author does). Publishing companies want to make money. I am sure there are folks working at the publishing companies that are invested in finding good stories and helping good writers do well. But the corporate entity is about making money. So given all this, what can we envision for the industry?
        1. Baen has a whole ebook focus that has been great. My husband is an avid sci-fi reader and he has discovered many first time authors through their direct sales. And they offer special bundle pricing for limited times. You can even get pre-release copies of books, for a higher price, for those that just can’t wait. No fighting with Amazon about pricing, just do direct to readers.

        2. Why can’t publishers offer packages of services? Different packages for editing, book cover design, marketing, and finally publishing. Make it an ala carte selection of the services you need. They could hire more of those editors and designers we authors love to help provided these expanded services. Make it of value to work with them even if you are a new author. Some sort of vetting would probably need to be done from their side to “put their name” on works that take advantage of the packages, but so be it.
        3. As a reader, as much as I love reading the next book in my favorite series, I love finding new authors with great stories. I don’t know the answer on how to make this a win for the publishers. But this is about a wish list.I would wish for new author’s to get their own special division in the publishing meccas. They could promote this approach on their websites, through marketing channels, even have special stores in amazon to draw those types of readers?

        4. Have the publishers learn to do some simple math. A $9 e-book that sells 10,000 copies, and that costs the publisher who knows what to market to convince people to buy it at that price. Compared to a $4 e-book that sells 100,000+ copies. Made up numbers of course, but the general concept is valid, I think: reasonable prices means more sales and long term big bucks for the publishers.
        Just my thoughts!

  • I bought Byan’s product, now off to learn…

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Roland!

  • QOTW: I think the self-publishing industry will be a bit more refined in 2017. Those who have been chasing the money will soon get burnt out and find a new get-rich-quick hobby to pursue, while those who have been taking their writing seriously and treating it as a business will prevail. We will see higher-quality self-published books that will be nearly indistinguishable to traditionally-published books. We’ll start to see fewer scammy, Author Solutions-type vanity publishers popping up, because I think people will be a little more educated on these types of things.