Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tsunami: The New Slush Pile

When the initial shock of DIY publishing hit the industry, there was a slump in publishing new books. The industry experts were assessing the categorical storm that was about to hit. The tide was sucking agents and publishers out into uncharted waters, dragging the slush piles from their desks with them. All these slush piles began to mutate into one magnanimous tsunami of self-published books that would hit the internet sites such as amazon.com, smashwords.com, and barnesandnoble.com.

This has resulted in issues that are stagnating the industry of publishing - especially in books.

The Big Six are not taking on new unknown authors. Of course they aren't. They face the same problems the independent authors face. Even though their authors are known - famous even - they have to wade through the floodwater left behind by the tsunami just like the indie authors. The saving grace for their known authors is a reader can type in the author's name on a retailer's search function and bring up all their books - old and new. Unless a reader knows an independent author by name, or a book is recommended by another reader, this likely isn't going to happen to an unknown. The slush pile has been tossed ashore by the tsunami, leaving millions of books piled high on the cyber-beach for miles in any direction. The likelihood of a Big Six editor or an agent happening upon an unknown author's book in the tsunami's aftermath is slim to none.

Marketing is unstable. Competition is fierce in the publishing world. It always has been. In the aftermath of the tsunami, the competition has become vicious. Unfortunately, readers are the ones who are suffering the most. Indie authors are forming networks where the primary purpose is to promote each other's books. Sounds legit. However, what happens is readers are inundated with "Buy this Book," "Read this book," and other similar postings on all the social networking sites. I'm not going to lie; I've done it myself, and sometimes still do, although I am not a member of any indie author network. I rarely write reviews for other authors' books, because I refuse to write reviews for books I haven't read. I also don't request reviews for my books, even though I know it helps in the rankings on the on-line retailer sites. If a book sells one copy, I'm satisfied. The words I have put together have reached the world.

Pricing is also unstable. Readers are being gifted with free, free, and more free e-books. For avid readers, it's like being a kid in a candy store on free sample day. Sadly, many of those books sit at the bottom of reading devices with the likelihood of never being read. The free e-books have created a problem for not only the independent authors who do not publish for free, but also the publishing houses. When non-free books are published, they are buried in the rankings by all the free books and it's more difficult to find the paid titles.  Believe it or not, many readers will not use the search and sort functions. The 99 cent books are piled on top of the free books, pushing non-free books even further down in the rankings. It's not Amazon or B&N's problem. Their primary purpose in the e-book industry is to sell reading devices, and as long as there is content to be downloaded it doesn't really matter whether it's free, 99 cents or a million dollars, as long as the e-readers are selling.


As with all categorical events in the world, we will be wading through the floodwater of the DIY publishing tsunami for several years into the foreseeable future.