Publishing has become popular, in spite of the traditional publishing industry. A lot has changed in the last two decades.
Typically (or perhaps traditionally), the traditional publishing industry publishes 250,000 to 300,000 titles each year. That’s more than fits in a Barnes & Noble, which carry about 150,000 titles. Those are impressive numbers representing millions of hours spent by writers. Walk into any bookstore, look at all of those books, reflect on the hundreds or thousands of hours that went into each, then reflect on all of the books that are started by never finished – and marvel at the industry of writers and authors.
Also typically, the world changed. It always does.
Two innovations, print-on-demand and ebooks, revolutionized the industry and the art. The advent of high-speed ink jet printers and electronic book readers (aka computers) avoid the industry’s industrial heritage. Instead of a factory, books and their covers can be printed by a device the size of a dishwasher. Instead of driving to the bookstore, many people prefer electronic delivery, skipping the need and cost of paper.
As of 2011, more titles were published by print-on-demand and as ebooks than were printed by the traditional publishers. As of 2017, the self-publishing industry accounts for “over 84% of all print and ebook titles“. The total should soon exceed 800,000 titles.
I happened to self-publish my first book, Just Keep Pedaling, near the start of the revolution, 2002. That year, my scant research shows there were fewer than 20,000 print-on-demand titles published that year. Just Keep Pedaling also was published as an ebook, though some of those formats are already obsolete. I’ve watched the industry grow as I’ve written and self-published six books, produced a series of photo essays, and helped dozens of writers become authors. A lot has changed.
In 2002, my first book cost about $400 to publish and I received about a 20% royalty. Soon, the self-publishers realized they could offer more and charge more. My next books cost about $1,000, which continued to be a bargain compared to the $15,000 some authors would spend traditionally self-publishing. Eventually, Amazon realized they could drive traffic to their site by offering more titles; so, they bought Createspace and Kindle. Now, authors can publish their books for free and receive as much as 70% royalties. Why pitch to traditional publishers and pay the associated costs of postage, printing manuscript excerpts, and waiting months for a likely rejection when you can use word processing and templates to publish at your leisure?
Writing a book is an accomplishment that should be celebrated. Publishing can be just as large of a task. Self-publishing requires the writer to become an editor, designer, illustrator, publisher, marketer, and publicist. Madrona Workshops cover a wide array of those topics in one or two day events. Come by and learn the skills you need, or the skills you want to delegate. We’re informal (it’s an island thing), supportive (we’re writers, too), and curious (what is your project and where will it take you?) Check the schedule and agenda for more details. Got question? Contact us. We’re happy to help.