Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why self-publishing looks more and more attractive

Mike Shatzkin lays out the ebook royalty arithmetic again, this time for self-published titles.  (See this post for his sums on trade publishers' ebook royalties.)  He uses Smashwords as an example.

Smashwords pays authors 85% of the sales price for ebooks sold on its own site, and about 85% of the receipts for sales made through iBooks (Apple), Sony, B&N, Kobo, and the Diesel eBook Store. In other words, an author would get more than three times the “old” standard 25% ebook royalty offered by the big publishers and double the “new” possible 40% royalty implied as the new ceiling by the Random-Wylie agreement announced last week.
I'm finding it progressively more challenging to see the advantage of using a trade publisher, especially for what a Big Six outfit might call a marginal title: a full-length collection of short stories or essays.* Such a collection is more likely to sell to an author's already established and faithful readership than to new readers.  And the author (me, say) will find it easier to reach those faithful readers through her painstakingly compiled mailing lists and blog followers and fellow Tweeters than through the usual mainstream bookselling marketing and distribution mechanisms.

Actually, I'm wondering if, five years from now, there will still be such a thing as a full-length single-author collection.  Perhaps they will go the way of the concept album.  Perhaps sales will be single titles: individual stories.  I honestly don't know.

What do you think?

* I'm not the only one.  Publishing Perspectives has a round up of responses to Seth Godin's announcement a week or so ago that he would no longer publish traditionally.  (Via Dear Author.)
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