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Editorial & Giveaway (US/Int): Bookouture founder Oliver Rhodes on the future of digital publishing

 

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Posted July 6, 2013 by

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…

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.

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.

Readers like you, and blogs like GraveTells are the ones that help to create today’s bestsellers. And that for me is exciting.

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.

I also expect to see more established authors, disenchanted with royalty rates, move to self-publishing or digital publishers.

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!

Is there anything that you don’t want to change? Are there things that you are excited to see?

publisher Oliver Rhodes

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.

From an interview with author Lindsay J. Pryor on The Hot Pink Typewriter

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.

Follow Oliver on Twitter  here!

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 logo

Find Bookouture online at Bookouture.com | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Giveaway (US/Int)

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Want to see the GraveTells Indie-Pendence Week 2013 schedule? Click the badge below!

GraveTells Indie-Pendence Week 2013


davincikittie

 
Sue "DaVinciKittie" Brown-Moore is a veteran romance blogger and reviewer and the primary voice for GraveTells.com. Sue and GraveTells have won several blogging awards, and GraveTells recently celebrated its five-year anniversary! Sue is also a freelance Developmental Editor passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their stories. She loves reading romance, fantasy, and sci-fi and edits any genre she reads for pleasure. You can follow Sue's editing blog, with tips and tricks for authors, at DaVinciKittie.com.


15 Comments


  1.  
    Susan W.

    I’m excited for all the publishing options for authors. I have found so many new to me authors who quickly became favorite authors because of indie publishing and self-publishing. As much as I hate so say it, I rarely buy books from the big name publishers because they all seem to be the same, cookie cutter stories. Original and fresh stories are so much more interesting.




    •  

      Thanks for the comment Susan!

      In the world of traditional publishing there’s always a financial risk in publishing a new book – if it doesn’t sell, you get all the copies back and make a big loss. That’s one factor that can hold back publishers from venturing too far from what has already been successful.

      One of the great things about digital publishing is that there is less financial risk – which makes it much easier to stories that push boundaries, and of course lets anyone become a publisher. So I think you’re right and we’re seeing more creative storytelling as a result!




  2.  

    Ebooks have opened up the publishing business to many authors who would not have otherwise been published –indie authors. I have found several NEW authors that I love to follow and read. But saying that, the market is glutted with books that should NEVER have been published. They would have never made it past the reception desk.

    The great thing about the ereader revolution is the immediate download but also the number of ebook deals. Where else would you find ‘freebies’, .99cent and $1.99 deals at your fingertips.




    •  

      Hi Sandy,
      You’re definitely right about variable quality of self-publishing – and I think that makes reviews (both on Amazon and sites like GraveTells) more important that ever before. It will also be really interesting to see how Amazon uses Goodreads!

      And I love that 99c deals (and even free) take the risk out of trying a new author – it’s a definite win for readers!




  3.  
    Kai W.

    I found that self-publishing allows the authors to keep their rights to books. Some of the authors have mentioned that when they publish their books with the publishers, they waive their rights to the books for so many years before they get it back.

    I have noticed that I have discovered so many new authors in self-publishing and that the stories are just as good.

    One of the thing I would inquire is that the price correlation. Even though self-publishing dictated separate pricing, I have noticed an increase in book prices. Is there any relationship of why book prices have gone up? Or is that the way the market work: competitively?




    •  

      Hi there Kai,
      That’s interesting about pricing – do you mean ebook prices or paperback prices?
      Amazon has certainly made a move to make free eBooks less prominent on their site, but still keeping paid book prices low. Overall I think self-publishing has helped to bring eBook prices down – by providing competition to the big publishers.




  4.  
    bn100

    like that authors can publish books faster in ebook format




    •  

      That’s definitely a benefit – I know several authors who would only be published once or twice a year by traditional publishers, but were actually writing 3 or 4 books a year!




  5.  

    Great article, Oliver! Thank you for sharing your insights about the current publishing market. I think this is an exciting time to be a writer, with so many options out there, but also a demanding time. No matter which route we end up taking, we need to be able to do more than write–we need to understand the business and understand how to market our work. I think e-publishing has also put pressure on authors to produce more books faster. These can all be good things, though–marketing can be fun, and having to put more work out there has encouraged me to try other formats, like novellas and serials.




    •  

      Hi AJ – thank you!
      I agree that to be a successful self-publisher there’s a hell of a lot of work involved – and being a great writer doesn’t necessarily make you great at marketing!

      That was actually one of the reasons that I founded Bookouture – I wanted to give authors and option where they could get the same great editing, covers and promotion as they would with big publishers – but with much better royalties!




  6.  
    Mary Preston

    I love browsing in “real” book stores. I hope they never go for good.




    •  

      I don’t think that they’ll go for good for a long time – but I think we will see less of them – and physical books will be more expensive as a result 🙁




  7.  
    Liz S

    I love the instant gratification of ebooks and the overwhelming variety. I am more likely to try a new author if the ebooks is $2.99 vs. a $7.99 paperback. I do most of my reading on my iPad. But my favorite authors I buy in ebook and paperback. I still love to browse bookstores and the closing of Borders was a traumatic event for me as I was in the store at least once a week. Enjoyed your post very much.




    •  

      Thanks Liz! I definitely agree about the ‘instant gratification’ – I love being able to download a book that I’ve seen or heard about in less than a minute – how amazing is that? And let’s hope that bookstores stay around for a while – I have to admit that no one has made browsing for books online quite as pleasurable as in a shop!




  8.  

    We want to send out a HUGE thank you to Oliver Rhodes for being one of our featured Indie Week guests and for sharing his insights on the publishing industry. Thanks also to everyone who came out to chat!! Congrats to the following winners of the ecopies of The Husband Diet…
    Sandy S.
    Liz S.
    Susan W.
    Kai W.
    Mary P.





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