Self-publishing is the next tech bubble that’s going to burst

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/30/tweet-about-cats-just-write

I’m not 100% sure I agree with it, as much as I would love to. Eventually, yes, the word is going to get out and people are going to understand that it’s just as hard (if not harder) to be a bestseller in self publishing than it is in getting an agent and selling a book the old fashioned way. But at the same time, there will always be midlist authors (or big name authors) who jump ship and decide to self publish, and reap all the rewards and act like this is great and anyone can do it, ignoring the fact that they had anĀ audience that a publisher built for them ahead of time, and that their success is not really one can translate to everyone.

People will always want instant gratification, people will always feel spurned by rejection letters, and people will always think that their story is the one that is going to be a bestseller and make them rich no matter what. And since it’s beyond stupid easy for them to do it self publishing, it will always happen. So, unlike the tech bubble (which required VC to keep it afloat) the cost of entry is 0. Nada, nothing, and so people will always risk it.

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14 thoughts on “Self-publishing is the next tech bubble that’s going to burst

  1. I think self-publishing is dying, and I think Amazon knows it.
    Nobody can deny that when it comes to bookselling Amazon has the most data.

    That they started their own publishing company is to me a clear sign that they see self-publishing is going nowhere. Why else would they put a lot of money into making, and buying, publishing companies?
    And you also have KDP Select, that binds self-published authors to Amazon. They obviously don’t want them to seek other venues. (OK, that could just be that Amazon has lost a lot of market share.)
    And on top of that they made a Tablet PC, and no matter how many people see Tablets as “e-readers” that is not the case at all – it’s a laptop without a keyboard.

    Amazon knows something, they are not telling us what they know. But from the evidence of what we can see, I’ll say that self-publishing is not the future. And it even looks like e-books might not turn out to be the success story people make it out to be.
    If I remember correctly, apps are selling better than books on the Kindle Fire.

  2. yes, the Kindle Fire (and the Nook Tablet as well) are not e-readers, they’re not. As for what Amazon knows…I think that’s obvious.

    They know that if they have a half million people publishing, and they get 30% of it (more so if it’s less than a dollar, which most people do) and each person only sells one or two books EVER- then they are making a fortune.

    It’s the long tail, and it benefits the middle man and never the producers. So they want to bring all the small, indie writers to their flock so that they can make a shit ton of money off of each of them. That’s the whole point. That’s why they rebranded the word indie, to bring in small press writers into their flock (Konrath, who is an Amazon shill is the one who started this). To them ebooks and epublishing is a massive money maker, even if the authors barely make a cent.

    Basically it’s shitty labor with no pay and a lot of willing participants.

  3. (this is also why Amazon lists how many ebooks are published with them each year, and how big the number of is. Of course only a few sell so many, but who cares? It all adds up after awhile)

  4. I remember early last year (, or was it late 2010,) that Amazon bragged how every Kindle owner bought an average of 30 e-books a year. I haven’t heard anything since then, so I think it’s very safe to assume that the number has dropped.
    I would very much like to see how many e-reader owners are early tech adopters, and not really readers.

    There’s a huge focus on the tech when it comes to e-books, and tech hasn’t really anything to do with books, a novel is text.
    The talk of “enhanced e-books is ridicilous to me. I don’t think any reader wants their books full of movies and audio.
    The problem, as I see it, is that the e-book debate has a lot of people in it that have no real interest in books, just the technology. When the next cool gadget comes along they’ll go there.

  5. While I do agree about “enhanced ebooks” (I mean, the internet proved that was pointless years ago), I do like ereaders and ebooks. I have a Nook, and I buy at least 2-3 books on it a month, if not more than that. And it’s because I don’t have to put it in a physical space. I don’t buy selfpublished books with it…usually stuff from FSG, Melville House, and others like that. I never pay less than 9.99 for an ebook, because anything less than that is usually a sign of shitty books.

    For someone who reads a lot, ebooks are a great thing. I still go out and buy some books in hardcover format, books I love and books that make terrible ebooks (like Blake Butler’s There is No Year, or Visit from the Goon Squad)

    • I totally see the “no more room for books” argument. But to be honest, I think the number of people that have that problem is so small that they don’t validate a business model.

      I don’t think e-books are going away, but I have seen how much the growth has slowed in the last year. I think they may reach their peak much sooner than many people expect.

      • That makes sense. I am a rare, insane reader who can’t get get enough of good, literary books that are weird and broken. I think I’m not normal at all.

  6. And yes, Amazon will make money from e-books as long as they get people to sell them for $0.99.
    If you want to cut out the middleman in e-publishing, that is the retailer – not the publisher/editor. Why would you give someone 30% or 65% to do something you can do (almost) free on your own website?

  7. Because, in their frame of mind, and what they’ve been told by lots and lots of people, is that they can make *millions* by going the kindle route and nothing else. And people believe it. Because it’s told to them in a way that sounds convincing.

    • It does sound convincing. And as you mentioned, the way Konrath & co atack everyone with differing opinions and call them idiots will make it seem to the “uneducated” that you are dense if you don’t believe their propaganda.
      Of course it doesn’t help that the press prints lots of articles on self-publishing that more or less just repeats the arguments of the self-publishing/Amazon gurus.

      • Well, they prey upon the same people who follow self help gurus. That’s why a lot of them are called “inspiring”. People that self publish don’t care if they follow mean bullies, because to them those bullies are the people telling them that yes, they to can make a fortune and be a best seller, all they have to do is believe in themselves

      • Yes, I’ve seen that. I’ve even seen people who have self published one or two books giving tips about the self publishing industry. I may not have published anything (except blogposts) myself, but I often find that I know more about the publishing industry than some of these “experts”. -But I also know that I don’t know nearly enough to call myself an expert.

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