Editorial & Giveaway (US/Int): Bookouture founder Oliver Rhodes on the future of digital publishing
Please help me welcome Oliver Rhodes, founder of Bookouture Publishing!
At the risk of sounding old, I have worked in publishing for the last 15 years. In the last three or four, I feel like I have had to almost completely re-learn my job as so much has changed. Whilst that means a lot of hard work, it’s a really exciting time to be working in the industry – and especially for me as I started my own digital publishing company, Bookouture, last year.
Here are a few of my own observations about some of the changes in publishing that I think are particularly exciting… and some educated guess work about where the industry might be headed!
How eBooks have changed publishing…
[quote]What is so exciting today is that self-published and indie books can become bestsellers, shifting hundreds of thousands of copies. There doesn’t need to be a big advance or a big marketing budget. There just needs to be a great book.[/quote]
How to grow a bestseller… from top down to bottom up
There used to be a fairly standard formula for creating bestsellers, before the eBook and digital marketing revolutions. A BIG publisher paid a BIG advance to one of the BIG agents and made a BIG splash persuading the BIG retailers to stock BIG quantities… and backed all that with a BIG marketing campaign. With that book in front of so many readers, all that led to BIG sales on launch week – and hitting the bestseller lists.
There were word of mouth exceptions to the rule – Harry Potter being an obvious one – but this was the general shape of things. Most bestsellers came from the top down.
Nowdays, BIG isn’t quite so important. And with eBooks especially, things happen bottom up.
What is so exciting today is that self-published and indie books can become bestsellers, shifting hundreds of thousands of copies. There doesn’t need to be a big advance or a big marketing budget. There just needs to be a great book.
Why? Because in a world where anyone can publish an eBook and reach a global audience, there is no need for a BIG agent or a BIG publisher to reach readers. Sure they can help, and they still have a role to play, but there’s another way too.
[quote]Readers like you, and blogs like GraveTells are the ones that help to create today’s bestsellers. And that for me is exciting.[/quote]
The other route to a bestseller exists because Amazon does such a great job of recognizing books that are generating interest and cross-selling them – and because indie publishers and authors can compete strongly on price. It works because social media works so well at spreading word-of-mouth recommendation. But the systems of both Amazon and Social Media have to be fed – by readers.
And not just any readers. It’s the bookworms, the Goodreads addicts, the Wattpad readers, the book bloggers – those who read A LOT. Those who proactively seek out new authors, look for recommendations and share their opinions. These are the ‘early adopters’ of the book world. The people who start the buzz.
Readers like you, and blogs like GraveTells are the ones that help to create today’s bestsellers. And that for me is exciting.
I think that’s the most important change that eBooks have made. That’s why I’m so excited for our authors at Bookouture. That’s why I’m grateful for GraveTells supporting us and for running Indie-pendence week. It’s a democratization of publishing – the readers are in charge. It’s bottom up instead of top down.
…and where the industry is headed.
[quote]I also expect to see more established authors, disenchanted with royalty rates, move to self-publishing or digital publishers.[/quote]
As someone who works in digital publishing and does 90% of their reading digitally, it’s easy to think that everyone reads eBooks nowadays. Of course they don’t – not even in the US – let alone lots of countries where the digital reading revolution has hardly even begun.
One exciting thing about the changes that we’ve seen so far is that we’re still just at the beginning – there is a lot more to come. Here are just some of the trends that I think are worth looking out for…
Continued eBook growth
The massive growth we’ve seen over the past few years has slowed down now in the US, but will continue to grow at a steady rate. Where growth will be a lot quicker is in other countries as they start to catch up – and in particular as Amazon expansion marches forwards.
The decline of bricks and mortar bookstores
I know this isn’t always the most popular thing to say, but it is inevitable. I’m not saying that they will disappear completely, but the economics of a low margin business with declining volumes and rising costs make it unavoidable.
More self-published and Indie-published bestsellers
Self-published and Indie-published authors are becoming better and better at marketing – especially as they share knowledge of what works for them. I also expect to see more established authors, disenchanted with royalty rates, move to self-publishing or digital publishers.
More publishing options for authors
It is easier than ever before for anyone to become a publisher. I’ve noticed newspapers and magazines and even blogs (check out to noveliciousbooks.com) setting up their own digital publishing companies. That means more options for authors.
Having moved from a traditional publisher to set up my own publishing company it will be interesting to me to see whether more people move to work away from publishing houses.
Move to tablets
I’d expect to see less people reading on dedicated eReaders and more on tablets tablets and smartphones… which will become even more pronounced with the arrival of colour eInk screens (there are prototypes already). I’d also expect that to open the way for more, and better, illustrated eBooks.
Continued Amazon dominance
Amazon has been at the forefront of innovation in both bookselling and (self) publishing. Expect it to grow geographically and to grow its publishing imprints. I’m particularly interested to see how it integrates Goodreads – imagine being able to see what your friends thought of a book when you’re deciding whether or not to buy!
What do you think?
Those are my thoughts about some of the ways the industry might change in the next few years – but what do you think? Is there anything that you don’t want to change? Are there things that you are excited to see? Let me know via the comments section!
[quote]Is there anything that you don’t want to change? Are there things that you are excited to see?[/quote]
About the author
Oliver Rhodes is formerly the Head of Marketing at Harlequin UK, where he worked for over ten years – establishing authors like Diane Chamberlain, Debbie Macomber, Heather Gudenkauf and Alex Kava in the UK market. In September 2012 her set up his own digital publishing company – Bookouture.
Oliver Rhodes is the founder of Bookouture. He spent 10 years at Harlequin UK, where he was Marketing Controller and was chosen as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2012. He regularly appears on The Romance University to give guidance and advice to authors. He was part of the Harlequin team that won The Bookseller’s Digital Strategy of the year award in 2012. His incredibly successful New Voices online author talent search won M&B the Bookseller’s Marketing Campaign of the Year 2011. He helped quadruple sales of Harlequin’s MIRA commercial fiction imprint in 5 years and establish authors such as Diane Chamberlain, Alex Kava, Debbie Macomber, Erica Spindler, Pam Jenoff, Maria V Snyder, Rachel Vincent, Elizabeth Flock, Anne O’Brien and Victoria Fox.
About the publisher
Bookouture is a boutique digital publisher combining big publisher experience and small publisher attention to detail. You can see an interview with Oliver about Bookouture here!
Bookouture is giving away 5 e-copies of The Husband Diet to commenters on today’s post! To enter to win, leave a comment letting us know… Is there anything that you don’t want to change? Are there things that you are excited to see?… on this post then fill out the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
More Indie Week giveaways and spotlights
Check out our special spotlight of the Bookouture’s contemporary romance, The Husband Diet by Nancy Barone, here! That’s also where you’ll find today’s Indie Week Sponsor mega-givewaway entry form.
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