What is Big Publishing Worried About?

I keep seeing reports that all is well in the world of big publishing. Some say it is better than ever. I’ve seen a number of articles that run the numbers and conclude that traditional publishing is not only well, it’s getting better.

That’s curious. Are there more people buying books than ever before? I ask, because with each passing year, indies take a larger percentage of the market share – a market that had been exclusively under the dominion of big traditional publishing.

Perhaps the difference is attributable to all the big new bookstore chains opening up. Oh, that’s right. Several of the big bookstore chains have gone under. That left a vacuum which is being partially filled by smaller stores. Here’s a horrifying thought: some of the new stores carry indie titles. Hmmm… I am at a loss to explain all the sanguinity.

No I’m not. Companies under strain always make happy noises. If indies were not impacting the big guys at all, they wouldn’t waste their breath on us. Instead, they seem to spit venom whenever they can.

I love this stuff. The Guardian ran an article, wherein they quote some fellow by name of Andrew Franklin, who is identified as the managing director of Profile Books.

“The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible – unutterable rubbish,” said Franklin. “They don’t enhance anything in the world.”

Franklin said there were “now unmeasurable numbers” of books being self-published. “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence…”

One might almost get the idea Mr. Franklin doesn’t care much for indie authors. By the way, that deathly silence to which he refers has resulted in an increase in market share for indie authors among women readers. The article also states that the women who read indie books are more voracious readers.

Indies are consistently eating into the market shares of your traditional publishing model, Mr. Franklin. We are inside your OODA loop. We are faster and more nimble. We are not weighed down by high overhead and layers of bureaucracy.

My business costs are a computer and an internet connection.  The bad news for you is that there are a million of me, and we are all helping each other. We are getting better every day. You’re still doing business as you always have. Keep it up.

Everything you do helps us. Your books require a higher price to offset your operational costs. We can produce and distribute our books worldwide for a tiny fraction of what it costs you. That means virtually all our books are profitable. How does that percentage work for you? I’m sorry, are you signing for an unopened box of returned books? Ouch. How many of those do you have to deal with?

It takes you months to get a title out because your organization is process-laden and lethargic. When we finish polishing and editing, we hit “publish” and our books are everywhere.

We are out-producing you and we’re rapidly closing the quality gap. Think Japan in the seventies. American automotive manufacturers laughed at the idea that “Made in Japan” would ever be associated with high quality. Who’s laughing now?

The best part is that when you do enjoy a success, we are right there to learn from it. If you discover that people like sparkly vampires, we have thousands of authors who will rise instantly to meet that demand, taking money out of your pocket, Mr. Franklin.

In reality, the indies won this fight the moment it was joined. So long, Mr. Franklin. You’ve been great.

Author: Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the Evil Mastermind and founder of Indies Unlimited. Hise is an independent author and an avid supporter of the indie author movement. Learn more about Stephen at his website or his Amazon author page.

47 thoughts on “What is Big Publishing Worried About?”

  1. Spot on! And Yvonne, you have the perfect retort. Indie is IN, Big Six and we aren’t going away. Stats do show that more people ARE reading and that’s because they have more available books to read, and more ways to read them. i.e. electronic readers, i-pads, smart phones. I don’t have to haul a book in my purse to the doctor’s office, or to the car dealer to maximize my wait time. I can read my book from my “cloud” on whatever device I happen to have with me.:) And as the big box book stores close, INDIE books stores are growing exponentially. Like I said, INDIE is IN. Sorry for the iteration, but I so love saying it 🙂

  2. The hammer has met the nail or Franklin. Will you be writing Mr. Franklin’s obit? I’m sure none of his authors would handle it with such style and flair!

  3. I love it. We can produce at a much faster pace if we are motivated to do so. Our readers don’t have to wait six months or a year for another sequel. We offer affordable prices that make sense. We’re smart, we’re savvy!

  4. Right you are. I don’t feel the need to waste energy feeling hostile toward trad pub and I don’t need for them to suffer in order for me to thrive. But in all that I have learned thus far, I see no reason other than an advance to go with trad pub, even if trad-pub were an option for a writer at my stage of career. If you can write a good book and promo it (which you will have to do even if you trad-pub) and are successful with it, you didn’t need them in the first place. I’m not concerned with the big kids at the top of the heap in trad-pub and I’m not concerned with the gazillion hobbyist writers. I just write the best I can and do what I learn in places like IU and let the chips fall. IU posters: great help.

  5. Gosh, that’s good. I read that that story and his comments really needled me. The trads are really rolling out the negativity now. They must be getting scared. Finally 🙂

  6. All those snooty publishers in their massive stone forts used to pour cold water on the pleading writers longing to be allowed to reach their readers. Now the walls have turned to dust so the happy writers are walking right past the baffled publishers and greeting their readers in person. Isn’t it great?!

  7. Every word you wrote is true, and everyone knows it. Funny thing is that we’re all saying the Emperor has no clothes, but he’s not listening! Guess he’ll find out when he gets his quarterly balance sheets.Won’t that be sad?

  8. I have just prepared comparative lists of sales and earnings since mid-2009, and there is a leap upward in the middle there that would never have appeared if this revolution had not happened. And all my readers have benefitted from cheaper books, so it’s win-win all round.

  9. It is interesting to look at what is happening right here where I live in New Zealand. The big publishers are leaving our shores at the rate of about one per week it seems. Our market here is too small for them to be able to continue serving us.
    The literary establishment is looking around and wondering what to do now. Of course they are next noticing the SP world. They are not so full of themselves here that they can’t adapt to the new order perhaps a little more quickly than the big literary nations of the world. We might be worth watching.

  10. I’ve often described indie publishing as the most liberating experience in the world. I can’t think of a better way to say it.

  11. And in this country, SP is rapidly gaining respectability as well. We may be small but that smallness gives us a better social and intellectual manœuvrability as a nation, very useful when trying to adjust to a new world order which is striking small nations first and hitting them hardest.

    1. Yes, it rocks to be in NZ where we can actually make a difference. It’s time to show the stuffy literati (are you hearing this Creative New Zealand?) that commercial fiction has a place at the table.

      1. I don’t think they’re as stuffy as we think. They’re opening up in great new ways, proving an open-mindedness that is liberating to us all. The NZSA took more SP books to Frankfurt than tradpubs last year. That says it all. They’re the ultimate literary establishment. Haven’t much experience in Creative New Zealand though, but if Auckland’s Creative Hub is anything to do with them, then they are improving too. Creative Hub is listening to what SPs have to say these days, I promise you.

  12. Maybe he’s realised that the market is changing, and his organisation will not, or cannot adapt to meet the new conditions. Hence the comment about “terrible – unutterable rubbish,” self published works.

    Experience indicates that if someone has to blithely insult the work of newcomers, it generally betrays a glaring lack of confidence about their own.

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