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2012 Publishing Predictions

The Ways of the Cat are Mysterious

The following are my bold and not so bold predictions for publishing in 2012.  My boldest prediction will be that Amazon will buy Goodreads in 2012.  The most unlikely to happen prediction is Number 10.    What are your predictions for 2012?

1.  More authors will self publish than in 2011.  I suspect that nearly every author will try his or her hand at self publishing new and previously unpublished content, either in novella or full length book form.  After 2012, I suspect that there will be a retrenchment in self publishing and authors will look to digital first arms of traditional publishers or digital first only publishers as they realize that a) self publishing is difficult and b) they’d rather write than focus on the business aspect.  However, there will be a rise in the number of self publishing success stories and the quality of self publishing will increase as supply increases.  Along with this prediction, we will see the rise of publishing service companies and indie communities of publishing service providers akin to Penguin’s Book Country and HarperCollins’ Authonomy where editors, copy editors, graphic artists will be able to offer their services and be voted on by the community.

2.  In an effort to capture the attention of talented authors, the digital rate of books at the big six will rise to 30-35% off the net with higher figures being offered to backlist only titles in exchange for nominal to no advances.  And/or more tiered royalty structures will appear similar to the Avon Impulse and Samhain Retro Romance line.   The advances in 2012-2013 will be either very high or very low.  High advances cannot be sustained by sub $5.00 price points on books.

3.  Readers will gravitate to lower priced books, those priced 3.99 and under, so long as the book has a good hook and a decent cover.  These books will be substitutes for traditionally priced books.  In looking back at Bookscan, authors sold well if they had an established name.  Breaking out as a new author is more difficult than ever, particularly from traditional publishers.  I suspect the new books that readers will be talking about will come from the $3.99 and under price range and those books will be available to readers around the world.  That’s the discovery price range.

4.  I think the price of most digital books will be $3.99 and that $.99 fiction will fall into either short fiction price (under 25K words) or will be promotional.  Publishers will experiment with book pricing and readers will be more hesitant to buy older titles at full price, hoping for a lower price deal.

5.  There will be a Steam-like publisher offering resellable digital books, available only in the cloud.  This is being experimented with by Austrialian publishers Book.ish and ReadCloud.  This might be offered by a romance publisher, but I suspect it will be a small press publisher for SFF or maybe comic books or a textbook publisher that would allow students resell ability of their digital texts.

6.  Sites like Goodreads will become more popular and thus more powerful.  Goodreads currently has over 6 million users.  Membership at Goodreads is increasing on a daily basis. Publishers are attempting to break into that market through Bookish, the as yet unreleased website backed by Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, but I suspect that Bookish and sites like it will wither on the vine mostly because they won’t be reader oriented but book oriented which I think are two very different things.  My boldest prediction is that Amazon will purchase Goodreads for the community and its recommendation engine.  (Amazon already owns Shelfari but back in 2007, Amazon purchased DPReview.com, the premiere digital photography recommendation site)

7.  Digital book sales will represent 50% of trade sales by the end of 2012.

8.  BN will offer an iTunes matching service for books which scans your hard drive for books and then offers you a matching book in Nook compatible format for no extra charge (this might be cloud available only).  This will be a move that will encourage Kindle users to trade in their Kindles in exchange for a nook.  This will either signal the end of Agency pricing or Amazon will file suit for unfair collusion.

9.  BN will continue to move toward offering non book content. BN will allow large store leases to expire and relocate into smaller locations. The larger locations will decrease the book content to half of the retail contents.  BN will begin to carry more toys, house ware goods (like cooking supplies to go with the cookbooks and craft supplies to go with the craft books), and other celebrity designed products ala Target’s pairing with Moschino and Jason Wu.  BN already has Vera Bradley paper goods.

10.  There will be an innovative print on demand machine that non bookstores will install.  Maybe it will be something you see in department stores.  The new print on demand machine will print mass market or trade versions of books.  (This is probably something more that I would like to see than what may happen, but I do believe that print on demand technology will increase dramatically in the next few years. There will be a high demand for it.)

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

65 Comments

  1. Merrian
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 06:23:17

    No mention of worldwide access/sametime publication? Is it too early yet?

    ReplyReply

  2. Allie
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 09:16:53

    It will be a sad day for me if amazon takes goodreads.

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  3. Miranda Neville
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 09:23:29

    “”Digital book sales will represent 50% of trade sales by the end of 2012″

    Do you mean 50% in dollars or in units sold? The latter seems more likely as people continue to load their readers with cheap books.

    Very interesting set of predictions. Thank you

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  4. Lisa J
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 09:24:33

    With your prediction of readers gravitating to lower priced books, can we also hope for the demise of agency pricing?

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  5. Rachel Haimowitz
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 09:59:19

    Re: #10, there is already a machine like that called the Espresso Book Machine: http://www.ondemandbooks.com/ (watch the video, it’s pretty cool). Sadly, it’s pretty cost-prohibitive, which does indeed make its appearance at non-bookstores extremely unlikely. I could, however, see it being the sort of thing a busy mall could support, or maybe even a large WalMart or the like.

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  6. DS
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:08:53

    @Rachel Haimowitz: I keep thinking that the Expresso would do well in large University libraries (or bookstores). I know there was times when I was doing research eons ago that I would have paid a reasonable amount to have access to personal copies of certain oop and even public domain works.

    @Jane: Considering that I am sitting here on 1/1/2012 and it is 60 degrees outside with a promise of snow tomorrow, I think just about anything could happen in the next year.

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  7. Cindy
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:20:39

    @Allie I couldn’t agree more. I lost my Shelfari account when Amazon forced the Amazon account sign on (I use two different emails for them). It had my shelfari so screwed up that in one day I had to reset my password twenty times because it kept logging me out and then telling me I don’t have an account. I don’t use the same email for Good Reads as I do for Amazon so it will be the same thing all over again.

    Does Amazon really have to own the entire internet like Wal-Mart tries with the real world? Ugh.

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  8. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:22:30

    @Rachel Haimowitz I think the Espresso Book Machine is too big, too noisy, and too expensive for large scale adoption at this point. It’s been out for a few years now and retail stores aren’t climbing on board. I think the shelf space has to shrink more dramatically in order for technological investments will create a smaller, more practical POD device.

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  9. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:23:16

    @Lisa J No, I think agency won’t go away until 2013 or more. Agency pricing is an important weapon for publishers right now and until the government or the lawsuits force them to drop it, I don’t see publishers doing away with it.

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  10. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:23:35

    @Miranda Neville Units sold.

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  11. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:25:39

    @Merrian No, i think until the adoption of digital becomes more widespread internationally, the geographic restrictions will continue apace. It is possible, though, that foreign publishers will push for more geo restrictions as it is one way for those publishers to maintain power within their own markets.

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  12. Maili
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:27:58

    What, no prediction for book trends? Which sub-genres will become popular and how? Which tropes that will have readers clamouring for more? Cover art? Well, don’t mind me, then!

    My possibly wild-eyed predictions:

    1. Victorian-set stories may be a popular trend.
    2. Romance goes global.
    3. The diversity ratio improves, especially in historical romances.
    4. More US-set stories.
    5. the Regency trend finally and [censored] dies! Yayayayayayayayayay! I’ll stab my chest with a quill if it’s still thriving at end of 2012. Seriously, I will. How can there be seven years’ worth of books out of a nine-year era alone? Stuck in the rut, aren’t we?
    6. More non-titled heroes and heroines. (I bloody hope so.)
    7. Pubs’ current obsession in putting toilet dolls on covers will continue.
    8. Romantic suspense still can’t make its comeback.
    9. Neither will Dame Barbara Cartland.
    10. Werehamsters are still waiting to take over the world.

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  13. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:29:00

    @Maili Heh, that’s for Tuesday. But what is Toilet Dolls?

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  14. Maili
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:38:49

    @Jane: Oops. Sorry.

    Toilet dolls are basically a Sindy/Barbie doll in a lavish ball gown used to cover a spare toilet roll. Here’s an example: A Pink Loo Doll. Some are basic like the Pink Loo Doll and some are luxurious, such as those with fake diamonds, silk and all. And a tiara, maybe. There are so many different kinds, but they all carry the Kitsch Pride banner. Lovely.

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  15. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:41:40

    @Maili That is brilliant. I was going to do a different post on Tuesday, but this will be fun. By the end of the year, the ball gown will have overtaken the cover and all we will see is the chin and maybe a man’s hand hovering over the edge of the gown. It will just be folds of fabric, like a decorator’s show book from Kravet.

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  16. Maili
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:00:33

    @Jane: I can believe that will happen. Those two are almost there: A Rogue By Any Other Name: The First Rule of Scoundrels (I’m pretty sure he’s under there somewhere) and Waking Up With the Duke. Come on, Avon. Let’s see what else you can do to beat those!

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  17. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:07:44

    @Maili I was thinking more like this one.

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  18. Tina
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:19:11

    @Maili:
    Ok, the Werehamster thing kills me. Only because it feels frighteningly possible. Seriously, where else can Paranormal books go? Sometimes I feel that we’ve topped out on the many types of alterna-creatures until somebody comes along with something else.

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  19. Miranda Neville
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:22:22

    @Maili LOL on the toilet dollies. I believe the design is supposed to stand out well in online thumbnails: big burst of color, plenty of room for the author’s name and title.

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  20. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:24:43

    @Maili: My gran had a toilet doll exactly like that, made of pink foam rubber that gave you shivers to touch. The thing about them is that there’s nothing underneath except – toilet roll! So what the hero is to do with them I don’t really know.

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  21. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:26:33

    I’m fascinated by what you say about Goodreads. I stopped logging on to shelfari when it became associated with Amazon because it felt like a marketing site and not a reader site, which I think is the point you’re making. I really hope they do stay independent – though I have an author page there, my primary use of it is as a reader.

    And I second Maili’s historical trend preditions – Victorian and less toffs, definitely.

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  22. Dani Alexander
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 11:41:39

    @Maili:

    1. Victorian-set stories may be a popular trend.

    In the steampunk sense or is that dead?

    2. Romance goes global.

    If publishers are smart. If they recognize the growing trend of pirating books is because people overseas are sick of paying three times as much for a book and/or not having it available for years after release. Yes, in this day and age, sometimes it takes a year or more for a book to be available here! FU publishers. And thank you self-publishers for just putting a book up for sale and not attempting to keep it US/Canada-only!

    Game developers realized global realeases were needed. Music houses realized people didn’t want to buy whole cds. This is why games now come out globally not locally and why pirating music has lessened since ITunes. Almost everyone WANTS to pay for books. Our music. Our games. Be smart, publishers, reduce piracy by making books available worldwide. I do NOT understand why they don’t do this. oO

    3. The diversity ratio improves, especially in historical romances.

    Wishful thinking, but we can hope.

    7. Pubs’ current obsession in putting toilet dolls on covers will continue.

    You owe me a new monitor and keyboard.

    8. Romantic suspense still can’t make its comeback.

    Is it doing that poorly? I stopped reading it when the heroines turned TSTL and the story lines were laughable.

    10. Werehamsters are still waiting to take over the world.

    Yes! Because I’m sick of werewolves and vampires. I see a wolf on a cover and I start forgetting why I’m an animal rights activist.

    Does anyone have a prediction of the next craze? Zombies? Paranormal? Steampunk stories finally getting a large foothold?

    The young adult explosion is upon us. That much is a fact. But so is erotica.

    I predict better written erotica.

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  23. Cindy
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 12:23:42

    @Dani From what I can tell from Epublishers wish lists for submissions and the authors that I follow on FB and Twitter, steampunk is going to get huge. (Or maybe I’m just hoping), but in the past week I saw three authors posting on Facebook that they were working on Steampunk books. *crosses fingers*

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  24. Sue T
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 12:39:11

    Oh, I wish paranormal would be more than vampires, demons and shifters of the feline variety. I’m even getting tired of all the dragon books. I would love to see more on psychics, superheroes of the non-campy variety (like Batman) and other supernatural stuff like witches, warlocks and non-Greek gods/goddesses. And please, could we get more paranormal without the soul mate/destined mate trope? Ugh. I detest that like you all detest Regency. :)

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  25. 2012 Publishing Predictions | The Passive Voice
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:00:18

    [...] pairing with Moschino and Jason Wu.  BN already has Vera Bradley paper goods.Link to the rest at Dear AuthorPassive Guy says the best thing that could happen to author/user experience at GoodReads would be [...]

  26. Heather Massey
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:01:09

    @Rachel Haimowitz:

    >a large WalMart

    Is there any other kind?! :)

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  27. Courtney Milan
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:17:42

    @Maili: I think that Miranda Neville has it right: the big ol’ expanse of ballgown works because you can’t have the texturing/contrast between foil/nonfoil online that you had in print, so you have big ol’ solid expanse of cover (namely, ball gown) taking up most of it.

    Add in that if you’re self-publishing historicals, it’s practically impossible to get dudes and girls together in anything that looks vaguely historical unless you (a) get stock photos from one of the two online sources, in which case everyone and their dog gets stock photos from one of those two online sources, and one of those sources only has Jimmy Thomas on ‘em, or (b) make everyone nekkid.

    So for me, that makes it 100% toilet dolls 4EVA!!!111! (Well, at least for the next series.)

    But at least I’m writing in an era when you could fit an entire 48-pack of toilet rolls under the dress, and still have room for paper towels. I don’t know what the defense is for toilet dolls on Regency-era books.

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  28. Courtney Milan
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:30:11

    8. BN will offer an iTunes matching service for books which scans your hard drive for books and then offers you a matching book in Nook compatible format for no extra charge (this might be cloud available only). This will be a move that will encourage Kindle users to trade in their Kindles in exchange for a nook.

    I don’t see B&N doing this, for the same reason that biotech companies were never going to be the ones who challenged the validity of gene patents.

    In order to defend this legally, B&N would have to take a litigation posture that is counter to their fundamental interests. The thing with doing this with music is that you have a legitimate basis for doing it in copyright law: if someone has the music file on their computer, it could very well be a that they had a physical copy of the CD, which they then appropriately space-shifted. Storing it for them is just space-shifting, and so the use has substantial non-infringing uses, and isn’t inherently infringing.

    For digital books, it’s much harder, because you can’t rip a physical book, and the licenses that most books are sold with from online vendors are so restrictive that the vendor would argue that it’s not a sale, but a license, and so rights of first sale, blah blah blah, do not apply. So there can be no legitimate space-shifting except that allowed by license, and Amazon’s license (for instance) says: “the Content Provider grants you a non-exclusive right to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Kindle or a Reading Application….”

    Assuming that Amazon’s license is not a sale, I’m struggling to find a substantial noninfringing use. Now, I think you could make an argument about license versus sale–but I don’t think B&N is likely to do so, because that would pretty much undermine the entirety of their digitally licensed content as well. If they sell books rather than license them, there’s a right of first sale. There is basically no seller of books who is willing to contemplate a right of first sale in digital works.

    The incentive for B&N to take this on is tiny: they are not going to win the content war with Amazon by embroiling themselves in a legal dispute with publishers which would turn on a legal point that it is not in their interests to make.

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  29. JR Tomlin
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:32:15

    You made some very interesting predictions, and for the most part, I think they are likely to be quite accurate. However, I have to disagree pretty strongly with 2 points you made.

    “a) self publishing is difficult”

    No, it’s not. Honestly, it isn’t. What the heck is hard about it? Nothing. Sure you hire your own editor and cover designer, but it isn’t any harder in fact is probably easier than traditional publishing. The contracts are relatively straightforward and you don’t have nearly as many layers of agent, publisher, editor, marketing department to deal with.

    “b) they’d rather write than focus on the business aspect”

    What I disagree with here is the implication that traditionally published authors don’t have to focus on the business aspect. If they don’t, they’re asking both to be ripped off and to allow their sales to wither. As a self-published author I don’t have to focus on marketing any more than most mid-list authors do IF they want sales, for example. I don’t have to worry about whether my agent is doing his job or whether my publisher is dropping me like they are so many mid-listers.

    How many authors will stay in self-publishing? Darn if I know, but if they don’t for those reasons, they are deceiving themselves.

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  30. Caroline
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:33:36

    @Courtney Milan: Regency dolls just can’t fit the jumbo roll of TP like the Victorians can.

    My grandmother had one of those, btw; apparently displaying extra toilet paper was vulgar.

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  31. Miranda Neville
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:34:33

    @Courtney Milan: A Regency toilet dollie with only cover an almost finished roll. The horse long ago left the stable as regards any historical defense of Regency covers. I count myself lucky if I get a vaguely high waist.

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  32. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:37:07

    @Courtney Milan I don’t think that they would do this without agreement of the publishers. I think it is an explicit agreement with publishers. I believe that Apple has an agreement with music publishers for this.

    Here is the Ars article on the iTunes match.

    Sadly, iTunes Match won’t match or upload most non-music media, such as movies, TV shows, audiobooks, or podcasts. (This almost surely has to do with licensing; Apple has licensing agreements with music studios to let their songs work with the service, but such a licensing agreement probably doesn’t exist for those other types of content.)

    Obviously publishers have a vested interest in keeping BN strong and weakening Amazon. If they could make this agreement with BN (and they have historically had very close relationship with BN), that would represent a blow against Amazon.

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  33. Mikaela
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:47:00

    There is an interesting trend in Sweden. I think it started with Bonnier Carlsen. They translated a popular swedish Middle Grade Author to English, and published the books as e-books and apps. No idea how successful it has been, though. But I applaud them for taking the initative.

    I think in the future that trend will grow. Both when it comes to successful indie authors translating their books to foreign languages and publishers opting to translate books, instead of selling the rights. And yes, I know that translators cost a lot of money.

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  34. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:52:58

    @JR Tomlin For many authors, I think ensuring that a quality product is put out is difficult. I think that there are over 13 different types of screens that a digital book file needs to be compatible with. Many of the ebooks I purchase have no table of contents, for example, which I think is a must have of every digital book.

    There are not only content editors but copy editors and proofreaders to be hired. My understanding is that the good ones are booked up three to four months in advance. There is the uploading of your book through various distribution channels and then the pricing of the product. After speaking with Bella Andre, Courtney Milan, and other self published authors, I got the impression that doing self publishing correctly is like any other small business endeavor and that is, it takes a lot of time to get out a good product.

    As for the business aspect comment, a lot of authors that I know do not want to deal with the pricing, the customer issues, the distribution issues, selling foreign rights, tracking down the right editors, cover artists and the like. Some authors really like being in control of all of those things. Some authors just want to write, send it to an editor and be done with it.

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  35. PatF
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:59:31

    The Barnes and Noble in Murfreesboro,TN, is probably half non-book inventory now.

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  36. cecilia
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:06:06

    @Caroline: A toilet paper roll is vulgar, but a cheap Barbie imitation in a bacteria-collecting gown is tasteful! I miss those days. Also, the ceramic fish and bubbles on the bathroom wall. And foil-and-velvet wallpaper. People really knew how to decorate in those days.

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  37. Anthea Lawson
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:15:18

    The thing is, an author is SO far from “done with it” when they send in the MS. There are edits, copy-edits, galley proofs, dealing with communication problems, delays, worrying about the option book… and THEN there’s the huge amount of promotion expected of any author. Sending out review copies, entering contests, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, buying your own ads and promo items, blogging some more…. As JR Tomlin says above, this is something all authors are expected to do if they want sales.

    LOL on the toilet paper dollies (and Courtney Milan’s !!111!)

    I seriously don’t see trad publishing opening up to different eras and more diversity. You’ll have to look to the self-publishers for that. Probably for the were-hamsters, too. :)

    Interesting predictions, Jane!

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  38. Dani Alexander
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:16:49

    @Jane:

    After speaking with Bella Andre, Courtney Milan, and other self published authors, I got the impression that doing self publishing correctly is like any other small business endeavor and that is, it takes a lot of time to get out a good product.

    I finished my novel over two months ago. It’s now in it’s fourth stage of editing/proofreading. I have a professional editor and three beta readers – these are not people I know but people I found. I have edited the book at least fifteen times myself. My husband once. A close friend once. I have also begun the process of marketing my book at various websites/goodreads/messageboards. And I have it harder than most as my audience (the m/m market) is a very small niche. I’m exhausted and I haven’t even started the most exhausting part : making it ready digitally for all those different platforms as well as having a POD design ready.

    Anyone who thinks self-publishing is easy, will market one book, fail and give the whole thing up.

    @Mikaela:

    There is an interesting trend in Sweden. I think it started with Bonnier Carlsen. They translated a popular swedish Middle Grade Author to English, and published the books as e-books and apps.

    I’m starting off with husband translating my book into Swedish. I’m hoping to also translate it into German, Spanish, French, Japanese and Italian as I know there are markets there. I’ll try it once using the proceeds from the book sales and see how well it does. I don’t want to be in the red for my first endeavor. I’m electing to do all of this myself for control, but I also hope to make a living at writing. I wish I had the investment money to translate it right away.

    I think teh global market is where self-publishers will do better than traditional publishers. I have nothing against traditional publishing – after all, they gave me writers like Teresa Medeiros, Dean Koontz, Cody McFadyen, James Patterson – but there are improvements and lessons they can learn from the self-publisher. Not the least of which is to remember that the USA is not the only market for books!

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  39. RunRabbit
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:23:48

    What sells in traditional print isn’t necessarily what’s selling well in digital, so I think digital can continue to break boundaries in futuristic, superhero, apocalyptic (small audience there too, perhaps), GLBT, offbeat contemporary and erotic. I feel that there’s a big horizon for risk-taking when it comes to unconventional stories, something digital pubs can do while NY pubs are still following fairly traditional paths. Which is why those steampunkers should keep getting the stories out there – maybe the audience just needs to be developed, although I can’t see it ever being big.
    I could see a move away from shorter stories and novellas. Readers frequently complain that a book is too short for the price or too short to develop a plot. And yes, as more authors find success with self-publishing, digital publishers will have to do more to keep their top authors, especially as far as taking on more of the burden of promotion, keeping their web sites up-to-date and reader-friendly, and offering competitive royalty rates. I’m not convinced digital publishers are fully cognizant of the threat of self-publishing to their sustainability.

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  40. CK
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:43:32

    @Jane: Sorry if you’ve mentioned it before and I missed it, but why is the ToC so important for digitals? I’ve seen books with and never used it, seen books without and never missed it.

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  41. PD Singer
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:54:27

    For all who suspect a werehamster story might be funny: it is. It’s also free. Caged by Tam Ames

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  42. Courtney Milan
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 14:59:40

    @Jane: Ah. Hm. That would be… interesting. It wouldn’t rock the boat between publishers and B&N, but it seriously rock the boat between publishers and authors. I’m not even sure my publisher would be able to do that without paying me at least…something…for every book that was uploaded to the B&N cloud. And there are some potential issues there, especially for books where the rights have reverted to the author, or will revert to the author.

    I still think it’s highly unlikely. iTunes has a lot more power in the digital download field than B&N does, and has been much more aggressive about the rip/mix/burn culture than B&N.

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  43. lisa
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 15:28:22

    @ jane good predictions I really like the BN one .(lol) I m really interested in the self publishing as a topic for discussion in my business classes.

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  44. Ros
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 16:12:16

    @CK: If you want to move about within a book, a table of contents is incredibly helpful. I do this a lot, especially if I’m re-reading and want to skip to my favourite bits.

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  45. Evangeline Holland
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 16:19:04

    @Maili:
    1. Victorian-set stories may be a popular trend. I doubt it. If you look at recent sales and upcoming HR releases, you’ll find that an overwhelming majority of them are still Regency-set. And I’ve set aside more than a few books purportedly set in the 1840s or the 1860s because they felt like “Regency” plots and characters transported into a later decade of the 19th century.

    2. Romance goes global. Global as in no geographical restrictions, or global as in a greater variety of settings?

    3. The diversity ratio improves, especially in historical romances. Bwuahahaha!…sorry, lol. I seriously doubt we’ll see anything more than tinges of “exoticism” in the form of mixed-race and Gypsy protagonists.

    4. More US-set stories. Only if the Western or the Civil War romance makes a comeback. Even in the “Golden Age” only a handful of historicals were set in urban areas like NY or Chicago.

    5. the Regency trend finally and [censored] dies! Yayayayayayayayayay! I’ll stab my chest with a quill if it’s still thriving at end of 2012. Seriously, I will. How can there be seven years’ worth of books out of a nine-year era alone? Stuck in the rut, aren’t we?
    It will never die, sorry to say. Not that there’s anything wrong with the setting, but based on my own experience, it’s a catch-22 situation. Most historical romances are set in Regency England, an aspiring author wants to try to write a romance, and when they decide what to write they want to recreate the stories they’ve loved, which are likely to be Regency historicals.

    6. More non-titled heroes and heroines. (I bloody hope so.) They are out there! It’s just that dukes and earls dominate titles and blurbs.

    7. Pubs’ current obsession in putting toilet dolls on covers will continue. But…they’re so pretty.

    8. Romantic suspense still can’t make its comeback. I know right? The paranormal craze killed it off. If it comes back, I hope we see less FBI/serial killer stories and more CIA/espionage/political RS.

    9. Neither will Dame Barbara Cartland. LOL

    10. Werehamsters are still waiting to take over the world. LOL again

    @RunRabbit: And yes, as more authors find success with self-publishing, digital publishers will have to do more to keep their top authors, especially as far as taking on more of the burden of promotion, keeping their web sites up-to-date and reader-friendly, and offering competitive royalty rates. I’m not convinced digital publishers are fully cognizant of the threat of self-publishing to their sustainability.

    This is something that deeply interests me as both a writer and as a reader. As a writer, royalty rates, DRM, and promotion and marketing are a definite factor in my choice of where and to whom I submit my books, but as a reader, I find that e-publishers are just as bound by “the/their market” as a traditional publisher (and they sometimes run in tandem) because they too have overhead, salaries, costs, etc.

    I think e-publishers are vulnerable because of this and because both traditional publishers’ digital-first imprints and Kindle, Nook, Kobo, & Smashwords (as well as Amazon’s imprints) are much more visible to authors (and readers) than an e-publisher. There is also the the fact that e-publishing is so romance genre centric, if the aforementioned publishing pathways expand in a major way, there is a serious chance the less established epubs will be squeezed out of the market.

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  46. Mel
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 17:08:41

    So, if I put all your predictions together I should expect to see a book about a regency steampunk weredragon duke finding his fated mate, a superheroine with hamster powers who likes to wear hoopskirts and ruffles in her off time?

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  47. Cindy
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 17:24:14

    @Mel *laugh* I think I would actually buy that…it’s different from anything else out there and sounds kind of fun.

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  48. Shannon McEwan
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 17:30:48

    @Jane: Absolutely. In Australia, as recently as 2009, Australian publishing industry interest groups succeeded in sinking a recommendation to the Australian Government (from the Australian Productivity Commission) that parallel importation of books be legalised in Australia. Reckon that’s a pretty good indication that (in the foreseeable future) the industry will be fighting tooth and nail against anything that it perceives to be a threat to their slice of the market.

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  49. What Will Happen in the Publishing World in 2012? | If My Thought-Dreams Could Be Seen
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 17:32:48

    [...] As someone who greets every new year with renewed hopes of getting a book published, I found this post from Dear Author pretty interesting. The following are my bold and not so bold predictions for [...]

  50. Dani Alexander
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 17:40:12

    @Mel: That’s it. I’m so writing that!

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  51. Anonymous
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 17:58:40

    I am someone who did self publishing who will be returning to trad. publishing this year. (or trying to). I am probably ahead of the curve. I did it before everyone else and I suppose now I’ll be giving it up ahead of everyone else. It wasn’t due to lack of success, but due to the pressure of having the buck stop with me.

    There’s also such a loss of respect from other authors, reviewers, readers. It’s hard to get tables at conventions. I thought as self publishing grew and more big name authors tried it, that type of marginalization would go away, but it hasn’t. There is still a stench associated with being self published and I am tired of feeling like I’m second best because I don’t have a publisher standing behind me.

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  52. Courtney Milan
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 18:56:35

    It wasn’t due to lack of success, but due to the pressure of having the buck stop with me.

    Yes. This.

    I really think that–for those authors that have a choice between the two–as the terms of traditional publishing get better, the divide will end up falling based on whether the individual author gets stressed out more by responsibility or by lack of control.

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  53. Ros
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 19:20:50

    @Courtney Milan: Agreed. It’s not so much a question of ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ as what suits an individual author. Some people are great at managing a business with all the responsibility that entails and some are better as part of a larger machine. I loved my little foray into self-publishing and would happily do it again, but for now I’m glad to have a publisher who is working really hard for me, especially on the marketing end of things.

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  54. reader
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:19:15

    @Maili prophesied:
    Victorian-set stories may be a popular trend.
    More US-set stories.
    More non-titled heroes and heroines.

    Oh I hope so! I love those best and they’re so difficult to find.

    ReplyReply

  55. DM
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:52:40

    I think we’ll definitely see more Victorians, and fewer Regencies. If you look at the freshest voices today, they’re not writing Regencies. Courtney Milan and Sherry Thomas write Victorians. Gail Carriger and others are writing steampunk Victorians. And the market factors that put Regencies on top have vanished. Fifteen years ago single title Regencies were a breath of fresh air. Now they’re old news. And the training ground for Regency authors–the category lines where they could hone their plots and characters in 50k words or less–have vanished. Writers like Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley, and Mary Jo Putney put the Regency on top with their superior storytelling skills–but the school in which they learned their craft is gone. Romance readers just want a good story well told. For a while, Regency titles promised exactly that–because the best new voices were writing them. Now they promise familiarity–and the stagnant sales numbers for historicals would suggest that it is breeding contempt.

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  56. Jane
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 21:32:32

    @Courtney – when Harlequin changes from Lit and Mobi to ePub, they are going to make that format change for readers for the books readers previously purchased. When Fictionwise eliminated formats, they offered ePub alternatives too. I don’t know whether authors were compensated again, but I don’t think that they were. Wouldn’t the iTunes matching service be essentially the same thing?

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  57. Courtney Milan
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 23:31:02

    @Jane: Not necessarily, because it requires a separate entity to issue a separate license. Fictionwise has already granted you a license to the work in question; when sold by Harlequin directly, ditto. So this can be seen as simply a modification of a license already extended, not a new license. And–having just checked–my license with Amazon is with Amazon proper, not with Harlequin. So the only way that B&N can let me access the material is to grant me a separate license to view the work.

    Although… I do wonder whether that’s true for agency publishers. If the publisher is the one who is conducting the sale, and Amazon is simply their agent, they might be able to make that work.

    But that would certainly not kill agency pricing. It would reinforce it.

    I don’t insist on this interpretation–I think there are a lot of open questions that depend on things I don’t have at my fingertips, like the grant of rights to Amazon & B&N. But that’s my basic point–there are a lot of open questions here, and I suspect it would strike at some points in publishing contracts where there’s a lot of existing ambiguity.

    As far as I can tell, the majority of authors still support DRM. Do you really think they would welcome this change with open arms? I don’t see how publishers could suggest this without occasioning a full-scale revolt among their authors. It’s that uncertainty that makes me put this on the “very unlikely” scale.

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  58. Kim
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 11:45:26

    Readers will gravitate to lower priced books, those priced 3.99 and under, so long as the book has a good hook and a decent cover. These books will be substitutes for traditionally priced books.

    Won’t this trend in self-publishing eventually effect the $7.99 price point that NYC publishers currently charge for newly issued ebooks? Avon is already testing the waters with the $4.99 ebook price for JAL’s new novel. This is great for readers, but what will it do to the publisher’s bottom line?

    Publishers are saying that ebooks aren’t lower priced because there isn’t a huge reduction in their marginal costs when producing an ebook vs. a paperback. That’s hard to believe, but assuming it’s true, what’s the fallout if all ebooks need to be priced under $5.00 to remain competitive? Won’t reduced profit margins further impact the viability of traditional publishers or will it cause publishers to offer an even lower print run in order to push readers towards ebooks?

    Finally, here’s a wild prediction: Would a big publisher ever buy out an ereader company? As an example, telecommunication companies offer free cell phones because they make their big profits on cellphone service. Will publishers offer free or nearly free e-readers because the big profits come from ebook sales or would this be deemed a monopoly/oligopoly?

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  59. Stephanie Doyle
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 11:50:25

    JR Tomlin – Self publishing is hard “No, it’s not. Honestly, it isn’t. What the heck is hard about it? Nothing. Sure you hire your own editor and cover designer, but it isn’t any harder in fact is probably easier than traditional publishing….”

    Sorry JR – I’m going to disagree. Having traditionally published and self published I can honestly say – I would rather sign my name to a contract than go through all the decision making processes I went through during self-publishing. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t “hard” labor. Just way more work than what I do for my traditionally published stuff.

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  60. LG
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 13:45:59

    @PD Singer: I think I know what I’ll be reading tonight…

    I’ve been vaguely tempted by a were-seahorse book for a while, but, unlike “Caged” it’s most definitely not free, and I’m not sure that the strangeness of it will be enough to justify what I’d have to shell out.

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  61. De
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 16:46:39

    Caged was was totally worth reading. I’ve already rec’d it to 4 ppl in the last 24 hours. And I tried a new to me author that I would never have otherwise tried. And since I liked her sense of humor I’m tempted to try her other books, that I’d have to buy. In this case, giving something away for free is working in her favor.

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  62. Jane
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 20:49:47

    @Kim: I think the lower price depends on how many books that the pubs can move at the lower price. The big problem for traditional publishing and lower prices is the advances they’ve already paid to authors.

    Ellora’s Cave does sell a branded ereader but I’m not sure what the cost is.

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  63. Brooklyn Ann
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:08:41

    These are all fascinating predictions, and I am anxious to see how the BN/Amazon/Publisher triangle plays out…and pray it will benefit the author. On the subject of trends, as a reader I only care about a good story. I adore a good regency or any other historical and will continue to read them, just as I will continue to chuck bad ones across the room. The same applies to paranormals. I’ll joyfully read about sexy vampires until the day I die…as long as it’s a good story.

    As an author, I know that trends don’t really matter in the long run. It’s all about the story and the quality of the writing. (Except in those odd random cases). And that’s why I was able to sell my regency vampire series.

    It’s also why I’ve read and loved a few westerns even though I don’t like cowboys or horses.

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  64. Christina Mobley
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 17:21:54

    love this post.

    ReplyReply

  65. Industry News-January 15 » RWA-WF
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 15:44:29

    [...] Author‘s Jane offers generally optimistic predictions for publishing in 2012. There be no dragons here. (Wait for the article to come [...]

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