Thursday, June 5, 2014

Golden Age for Indies.

I didn't really start looking at self-publishing, and/or ebooks until last September, when I finally started to prepare the results of my year long writing binge for publication.

I've learned a lot since then.  I still have a lot to learn.

I had to at least take a stab at traditional publishing.  Which went nowhere.  Then I had to take a stab at self-publishing.  Again, pretty much nowhere.

Finally, I arrived at the hybrid model -- ebooks through a smaller publisher, who also publishes physical books, but which aren't distributed except online.  I get paid like with traditional publishing, but not as much.  The publisher pays for everything, (printing, covers, distribution, etc.)  has a platform, has some marketing savvy, and knows how to use key words and placement.  Things like that.  I have more control than if I was with a traditional publisher, but not as much as if I was publishing myself. 

This model has some of the same advantages and disadvantages as traditional publishing, but is quicker and more adept.  It seemed like the right way to go for me.  There was some validation in it, and it made it easier to push my own books.

But I've continued to research it, and learning.  I flailed around until I found the sites that had the kind of information I needed.  (Hugh Howey and The Passive Voice are the best, for those who are interested.)

I was talking to someone today, and I said that self-publishing was further along than I had suspected, and that I thought I was coming in at the tail end of the Golden Age.

The proponents of self-publishing call it Indy publishing, and they make a good case.

The Golden Age is my term for when a new thing works.  When everyone is in it for the right reasons, and there is a reasonable chance of success.  Every fad has a Golden Age.  Every new product that becomes Big has a Golden Age.  A time when you can do well with it if you have good intentions, work reasonably hard.

One of the hallmarks of the Golden Age is the skepticism by outsiders.  "You can actually make money selling sports cards?"  "People actually buy these Beanie Babies?"

That's when it's best for all the participants, the buyers and the sellers.  Things are happening, and there is a slow build until it becomes common knowledge.

Then everyone jumps in the pool, including the grifters and the cheaters, and the Golden Age comes to an end.  Those who are rudest and most obnoxious push their way to the head of the line.  Quality and honesty become lost, and only the top of the top can make it.  Competition becomes suicidal, the consumer can't figure out the good from the bad and throw up their hands in disgust.

"Oh, another card shop..."

When I went home I thought about it, and while I think it is true that the Golden Age for self-publishing is near the end, there is still some time.  (It would have been better to get started two to three years ago...)  I'm guessing there is still at least a year left, maybe more.

It's still a high hurdle to success, but it isn't impossible yet.  (Self-publishing itself is only beginning -- it will go on without or without me.  But the Golden Age is nearing the end.)

Most people still look down at "self-publishing."  Most people are still skeptical that anyone can make money at it.  And that's good.

It's when the truth is otherwise -- when everyone perceives it as not working when it is -- that's the best time to get in on it.  (The worst time?  When people perceive it as working when it isn't...)

When will the Golden Age be over?  Well,  I'll be looking for the signs.  For instance, the articles -- about how easy it is to make money publishing your own books, and how it is no longer looked down on, and look how rich this person has gotten!

There have already been a few articles like this.  There are a few examples that people seem to know about:  Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking, for instance.  But there are dozens if not hundreds of self-published writers who are doing very well, and who are producing good books, and that really isn't common knowledge yet.

So I just need to keep doing what I'm doing, and hoping for the best.

It isn't too late.  If I can establish myself before it becomes an impossible hurdle (instead of just a very very difficult hurdle...)

There was no way I could have timed this.  I was ready to start writing when I was ready to start writing.  I'm probably fortunate that I could even catch the tail end of this.  I could just as easily waited another year and missed it completely.

I predict that within five years it will jump from 2000 books a day being published (an already insane number of books) to 5000 or 10,000.  That big name authors will be self-publishing.  That the barriers of entry will rise, and the payoff will decrease.  It seems inevitable to me.

But it doesn't matter.  I'm busy writing.

1 comment:

Duncan McGeary said...

There is also some "Watch out what you wish for" in all this. Indy writers are wanting validation, but in truth they are better off without it.

When validation comes, so will the shitstorm.