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Richard Hershberger May 10, 2019 um 9:54 am

Self publishing: Not in decline, but probably over-saturated. Ten years ago, when this was new as a commercially viable option, the first generation of authors was delighted by how well they could do. The evangelized, both out of enthusiasm and self-interest. Bringing more writers into self-publishing would bring in more readers, too. But at some point the calculus shifted. The readership was about as big as it was going to get, while the number of authors increased. This is when we started to see complaints about declining income.

The same thing happened with EBay. In the late 1990s you would see stories about people who cleared out the attic and were amazed at what they could get on EBay for their old stuff. Some quick their day jobs and spent their days buying inventory at yard sales and selling it on EBay. This worked great for a while, until the supply became glutted.

Another parallel is the monopoly internet marketplace. Early in the process it is to the company’s advantage to bring in more sellers, and so sets terms favorable to the sellers. Once the company no longer needs to attract more sellers, the terms are changed to favor the company. Amazon has worked to make itself a de facto monopoly. This was never going to benefit authors. Add to this the modern internet giant culture of paying for algorithms, not people empowered to make decisions. This is how you get these stories people gaming the system, and honest authors getting crushed in the ensuing attempts to stop the gaming. The algorithm concluded that the author was one of the gamesters–no telling why–and there is no one whose job is to review and possibly overturn this conclusion.

I don’t think self-publishing is in decline in a global sense, but this is a different question from how it plays out for the individual author. The promise of ten years ago was that if you could write fast and put in the effort to promote yourself, you could draw a good middle class income. This, at least anecdotally, is a lot harder today. The established names continue to do well, but breaking in is a much iffier proposition now. May 10, 2019 um 12:14 pm

Richard, your comment wins an Oscar!

Roland Denzel May 11, 2019 um 12:53 pm

I hope self-publishing is in decline, because that will make things easier for those of us who stay in it.

All of the things she said affect traditional publishing as well as indie publishing. The only thing somewhat 'valid' is the money to spend on ads (pay to play in her words), but trad isn’t doing that as much as indies yet.

If being an author is truly only a hobby and a labor or love, then go traditional, but realize that most publishers won’t market, market well, or market long. …and then you’re not selling books and there’s even LESS you can do about it because you can’t afford to pay to advertise your own book at trad royalty rates.

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