Changes in 2011

We keep hearing about big changes in the publishing industry. Not everything will be changing, so as an author, you need to keep up on the latest trends. And speaking of trends, remember that e-books only account for 5%-25% of publishers book sales. 

Here are things to watch out for in 2011, so you can put yourself in a position to succeed. 

Mid-Size Publishers 

Forget about the “Big Six.” (The Big Six referrers to the largest publishers in the world. They are: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House, Simon & Schuster.) If you have query letters out to these publishers, don’t get your hopes up. They won’t sign you. The larger companies have restructured their executive management and gotten rid of some employees, but that is about it for their adjustments. 

Mid-Size and small publishers are changing with the times, while the larger companies are staying the same. Smaller publishers are looking for the next great author and willing to take a calculated risk. 

Another thing to watch for is start-up traditional publishers. We’ve already seen 10,000 new self-publishers in 2009/2010. Next, you will see new traditional publishers finding their place in the market. Start-ups will adapt to the new digital age, while longtime companies are still trying to modify new business plans. 

And most importantly, authors have taken control for the first time in eighty years. Publishers do not have a say on an authors career anymore. In fact, authors are making more money in e-books than if they signed with a traditional publisher. Mid-size publishers are aware of this and do not want to lose you. 

By the way, I predict the first Big Six publisher to make a significant transformation very late this year will be Simon & Schuster. The rest of the big publishers will fall in line in 2012, but authors will have moved on by then. 

Social Media 

Of course, social media has been on the rise and one of the best ways for authors to promote for free. In fact, social media and marketing can be stated in the same sentence. What does this mean for authors? 

In the past, publishers would use the Business-to-Business formula. This means publishers would sell to bookstores, mass-market, and distribution channels, which would in turn sell to the consumer. Now, mid-size and small publishers, along with all digital and e-book publishers are doing more of a Business-to-Consumer approach. Social media is the reason for that change. 

It’s not only the publishers, but the publicists, marketing firms, and authors who are taking advantage of social media. 

Why is this working and how should you use social media? For most authors, it is a common mistake to jump right out and start promoting/selling their books. However, most of the time, that plan fails. Authors need to think like everyone else in the publishing industry. Attracting readers through platforms and discussions is the way to build your audience. 

Think about it on a smaller level. If you wrote children’s books and did a speaking engagement at a school, then talked about the importance of reading and writing, using imagination, and developing ideas in a fun way, this would attract other schools to invite you as well. The important thing to remember is that you do not sell anything at the schools, but rather leave information behind for others to consider. 

Let’s say there are 50,000 elementary students in your area. If only 5% of the children asked their parents to purchase your book, you would sell 2,500 books. Then next year, you go to the same area, but expand to the next city. Other than the 5th graders, all the students in the schools you visited the previous year would remember you. That improves your sales to 15%. In two years and two different areas, you would sell around 10,000 books. 

But here is the problem. You can only reach so many students before you are burned out and not writing books anymore. That is the great thing about social media. Just learn to build by giving information first, selling later. 

It does not matter what genre you write in: politics, vampires, thrillers, westerns, romance. As long as people are interested in your discussions, you will build a fan base. You are having an ongoing conversation with consumers. (Readers.) 

And the best discussion is not about you. Have I once mentioned anything I am doing in this blog? No. I can’t stand blogs that start off, “Well, I’m getting back in the flow of things and looking forward to the New Year.” Save that kind of stuff for your Facebook posts. Talk about a subject, not what you are doing personally. It will have a bigger impact. 

Did you know that agents and publishers look to see how many people “Like” a Facebook post and fan pages? They also look to see how many “Friends” you built up. The better you are doing, the more proven your social media campaign. The more proven you are, the better chances you will be signed. 

In the following blogs, I will talk about more changes in 2011 and how you can take advantage. Here is a sneak preview: 

  • Brick-and-Mortar stores do an extreme makeover.
  • Children/Young Adult books are on the rise.
  • Publishers giving more royalties for e-books.
  • Book Fairs will have their biggest year.
  • Print-On-Demand separates from self-publishing and changes how all books are printed. 

Stay tuned. 

Ron Knight  



Ron Knight

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  1. Ron, thank you so much for this informative article. We writers sometimes get so engrossed in our writing that we overlook the big picture.