In today's guest post, Mark Coker shares his thoughts on the latest trends in ebook publishing. As founder and CEO of Smashwords, a leading ebook publisher, Mark is in a unique position to understand the big picture trends that are vital to the future of publishing and to independent authors and I'm thrilled to have him as our guest.
Ebook Publishing Trends, by Mark Coker
For ebook publishing, the market for ebooks is expanding much faster than even the most optimistic market participants expected just a few short years ago. The Association of American Publishers said ebooks accounted for about 8.3 percent of the trade book market in 2010, up from about three percent the year before.
Although the AAP has some of the best trending data going back ten years, their stats understate what’s really happening in the market. The AAP data captures results for a limited subset of large publishers, so they’re not looking at the thousands of small presses and the hundreds of thousands of self-published authors.
Amazon announced several months ago that they’re selling more ebooks than print books for titles for which they offer both formats. Amazon’s numbers are a good leading indicator of where things are going.
I think industry-wide in the US we’ll see overall unit sales volume for ebooks exceed print volume by December 2013, and by late 2014 or early 2015 we should see dollar volume for ebooks exceed print volume.
However, it’s worth noting that most indie authors tell me they’re already selling many more ebooks than print books. Amanda Hocking and Brian S. Pratt have commented publicly they’re each selling over 1,000 ebooks for every print book. This is where things are going for many authors.
For indie authors, I think there’s never been a better time to be writing, publishing and marketing. The opportunity to quickly reach large numbers of readers has never been greater. The power center in publishing is shifting from big publishers to authors.
Some authors views traditional publishing vs. indie publishing as an either/or proposition. The two worlds can coexist, and here I think literary agents have a great opportunity to facilitate dual publishing strategies for the most commercially successful authors (see my blog post, The Literary Agent’s Indie Ebook Roadmap and accompanying presentation at Slideshare on how agents and authors can take advantage of this opportunity).
Nothing stands between you and readers. As the power of publishing shifts to authors, so too does the responsibility to create a professionally written, edited and produced book worth reading. Keep an open mind and experiment. Indie authors are pioneering the future of book marketing. They’re the ones taking risks. Avoid complacence.
As a self-published author, you’re running a business. As the CEO of your business, the decisions you make every day will determine your ultimate success. You’d be surprised how often I see otherwise brilliant authors take steps to undermine their own success. I compiled a collection of the most common worst practices. See my blog post from last year, The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Failure for the most common mistakes. Then read The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success for the best practices.
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About Mark Coker and Smashwords
Mark Coker is co-author of the novel, Boob Tube, and founder and CEO of Smashwords, a leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for authors and publishers. You can follow @MarkCoker on Twitter.
Mark is currently working to complete his next ebook, The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, which examines the best practices of the most commercially successful Smashwords authors. The ebook should be out in October.
To learn more about how Smashwords works, read the How to Publish on Smashwords page or the publishing FAQ, and be sure to download a free copy of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) and the Smashwords Style Guide (how to format and publish an ebook).
Visit the official Smashwords Facebook forum to engage with Smashwords authors, publishers and readers. Several Smashwords authors are also posting their personal tips and tricks for publishing at Smashwords as part of a coffee mug promotion at Smashwords. Read the entries here.