Through Thom Tinted Lenses

June 27, 2011

GROWING PAINS: THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY IN FLUX


 

There’s been much discussion recently about trends in the publishing industry and how authors should respond. Should we embrace e-publishing? Are we being unfaithful to local independent booksellers if we allow electronic versions of our books to be sold, thus taking sales away from those who have supported our work through the years? As an author, and as an author in the horror genre specifically, I watch the trends and these discussions with great interest.

I believe that with the current changes in the publishing and bookseller industries the horror genre has a unique opportunity. Horror remains healthy on film with an amazingly dedicated following, but that enthusiasm has not translated to literary works. Yes, the top names, King, Straub, Koontz, Barker, etc. do fine, but otherwise horror-themed books are largely overlooked. (And, yes, I’m aware of the Twilight series, but that’s really YA/Romance, and has very few true horror themes.) Barnes & Noble doesn’t even have a horror section and many booksellers dismiss the genre altogether.

But, now there’s the surge in eBooks and print-on-demand (POD). Smaller publishers are getting into the game, the major book distributors are faltering, thus giving independent booksellers an opening to rise in popularity and in influence. As with the music industry a decade ago, the major players are losing hold of their monopolies and the power is falling into the hands of the common person, be that a publisher, bookseller, or author. This, as a horror writer, I see as an opportunity. With eBook and POD options, publishers – large and small – can take risks with both new authors and riskier genres because they don’t have to worry about the expense of a full print run. As well, I know of many authors who have had their previously out-of-print works revived as they can now be produced cheaply through e-publication and/or POD.

Booksellers, too, should rejoice. The POD option still allows retail outlets to order the same books offered as e-publications. True, in most cases there is no longer an option to send unsold POD books back to the publishers, but in my mind this just means that booksellers need be more realistic when ordering. No longer can they purchase dozens of more copies than they know they will ever sell simply so they can qualify for a discount, only to then send the vast majority of the order back a month later. This practice as long been one of the downfalls of the industry and even the major retailers are finding it difficult to maintain.

Let’s be honest, as the music and home video industries have already learned, there’s no going back once a new technology has been introduced. Consumers are buying eBooks. According to amazon.com, they already sell more e-publications than they do print. This is not a bad thing. It’s simply the reality of our time. If handled properly, this could allow more books to be published – and purchased. Once publishers get over the idea that they should charge nearly as much for an eBook as they do for the print version, book sales will surge. Again, an opportunity for lesser-known authors and for fringe genres. In my mind we should embrace the coming wave, encourage small, niche/genre related booksellers and publishers, and hopefully bring horror literature back from the shadows.

 

Check out my novel, THE DEMON BAQASH, at http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309177285&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

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10 Comments »

  1. You present a very good case for the ebook, Thom. I gave a couple of back to back booksignings for my latest suspense novel “Book Corridor” this weekend and they did well, although the first books attracted many book buyers. I’m doing much better with the ebooks. I have a small Canadian publisher, and was previously published by Zebra/Kensington NY. For my personal reading, I’m pretty much reading almost exclusively on my Kindle these days. I’ll read a paperback if I receive one as a gift. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves. You’re right, the technology is here to stay. And the competition among authors, both indies and with publishers, is fierce.

    You can find my books here, both eformats and in print here:.
    Amazon kindle – http://tinyurl.com/4yqgfjg

    Comment by Joan Hall Hovey — June 27, 2011 @ 6:06 am | Reply

  2. I like your post, Thom. I’m a fan of horror and thrillers, and an aspiring thriller author. And as a much-published midlist nonfiction author I struggled with this, too–but came to very similar conclusions. Similar to Joan, I’m now reading most of my leisure fiction from Kindle, and also seem to buy more than I did of the “dead tree” books. I’ve discovered that I can deeply discount my nonfiction pet books, update them more frequently as changes occur, and still sell well with better income.

    Having books available and an ongoing presence with fresh titles helps sell the others that remain with my legacy publishers, as this helps with my brand/platform. It’s all good. Oh, and my cat and dog nonfiction titles are listed over at my blog.

    Comment by amyshojai — June 27, 2011 @ 7:59 am | Reply

  3. […] Horror author Thom Reese on Growing Pains in Publishing […]

    Pingback by Monday Mentions: Writer-icity, Dog Surfing & PeePee Dance « Amy Shojai's Blog — June 27, 2011 @ 8:44 am | Reply

  4. It has been way too long since your last blog post, Thom. I always look forward to your insights.

    As an author of unconventional fiction (I write erotica under Lisa lane and speculative, literary-themed science fiction under Leigh M. Lane), I embrace this new era of publishing. The monopoly is finally over; finally, there is room for book sales for the rest of us.

    Even with their problems, such as pirating and the closing of chain bookstores, I am grateful for e-books. I sell far more Kindle and PC books than I do paperbacks, and I’m sure part of that is because thier cheaper list price allows more readers to take a chance on no-names like me. It is an exciting time to be a writer.

    Comment by Lisa Lane — June 27, 2011 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

  5. Hi, Thom,

    Many of my horror short stories have appeared in e-book anthologies. I see e-books as an important opportunity of authors of all kinds of fiction. At the moment, my only novel appearing as an e-book is STACY’S SONG, a YA novel published by L&L Dreamspell. I’m hoping to have more of my novels available as ebooks in the future.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — June 28, 2011 @ 2:11 am | Reply

  6. I like your optimistic take on the trends in publishing. Good article.
    John Capraro

    Comment by John Capraro — June 28, 2011 @ 4:41 am | Reply

  7. Thom, your article present solid observations. The publishing industry as a whole is in the sea of change, but I’ve no doubt good books will prevail whether they be paper or digial. I do most of my reading on my Kindle, but once in awhile I have to buy a paper version from one of my favorite authors.

    Comment by Betty Gordon — June 28, 2011 @ 4:51 am | Reply

  8. Paper books were having trouble before digital books because of their business model. Digital books will, IMHO, save publishing industry, though the dinosaurs will need to get with the program. (grin) Good post!

    Comment by Pauline B Jones — June 28, 2011 @ 5:49 am | Reply

  9. The changes are for the better. Horror took a hit back in the late 80’s, and a lot of midlist horror authors started publishing their own work, using their own imprints, mostly as limited (hardback, signed) editions. That worked for them, their collective efforts kept them afloat. Now one person with skills can write, publish, market, sell, all for free and a lot of hard work, and not share the profit as readers embrace the digital age. We get older, and the youngsters have smart phones and iPads. The catch is this: You must have the skills to produce a great book. Content, flow, and on until the end. Formatting, cover art, and then on toward the marketing side of things, which is another bitch to tame. I have two novels out that are dark fantasy with elements of hard horror, another on why we should strive to produce a professional read, blasting the stigma of Indie Authors being hacks. My last novel is XXX erotica, and I don’t pull pucnches. I did everything, from cover art to formatting, and Kindle samples are free to download. Stop talking about it and join us. No, it isn’t easy. This is cutting your own path.

    Comment by Terrance Foxxe — June 29, 2011 @ 7:38 am | Reply

  10. The times they are a changing, and writers and readers alike need to go with the flow. E books are nothing short of a revolution, especially for horror authors (and this from a guy who loves print books more than anything). We have to throw out all the old assumptions and embrace the the now.

    Comment by Hunter Shea — June 30, 2011 @ 4:36 pm | Reply


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