Backlists, Hydra and the Future of Indie Publishing
March 13, 2013 | 11:30 am
By Juli Monroe
I’m a bit behind on reading Rusch’s blog on the business of being a writer, but one of her recent articles on binge reading (which also touched on Hydra) was excellent food for thought.
Note that her article didn’t cover Hydra’s recent changes in its royalty and payment structure, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reading, both as readers and as writers.
Rusch discusses reader habits, and how there’s no such things as “too many books” for a popular author. She also talks about why traditional publishers limit the number of books an author can release in a year. (Hint, it’s all about costs.)
This ties in beautifully with Joe Konrath’s recent post on his backlist and sales. Take a few minutes to read both articles and draw your own conclusions.
What’s the secret to success in publishing? They both agree: It’s having lots of books continually available. An author or publisher never knows when a reader is going to discover an author or a series. When we find one we like, what do we do? Try to find the rest of the books by that author, or in that series. What do we do if we can’t find them? Well, some readers move on to a new author. Others seek out used copies or less than legal means, neither of which puts money in authors’ (or publishers’) hands.
Which wraps back around to (a) why publishers try to grab all rights for the length of copyright, and (b) why indie authors who keep their backlist continually in print often see significant sales and success, and (c) the utter foolishness of limiting authors’ productivity.
It’s obvious, I think, that indie authors are here to stay. The better ones will learn to be good business people, and the not-so-good ones will get frustrated and leave (no real loss to readers). Indie authors have the flexibility to respond to readers’ needs, as discussed by both Rusch and Konrath.
What remains to be seen is whether the traditional publishers will learn the lessons of indie authors. Publishers are becoming less relevant, and silly decisions like those of Hydra (even under new terms) show that they see indie potential, but are still so stuck in their old business models that they can’t be flexible.
My theory of their future is … you know what? Right now I honestly can’t finish that sentence. I do read a lot of traditionally published books, and part of me wants the big publishers to succeed. On the other hand, they continue to behave so badly (and stupidly) that the business-owner part of me doesn’t see a future for them.
What do you think?