How do you make a new bestseller?
By now, you’ve probably heard that this is a time of great opportunity for publishers and authors alike.
Millions of readers around the world are consuming more content from the internet each day, and that’s a good thing.
But, while it may be the most exciting time of the year for authors, publishers are facing a growing number of challenges.
The top four publishers, for example, have lost around 60% of their market share since the last time this chart was published, which is roughly 20 years ago.
The number of US-based publishers has shrunk from a peak of around 700 in the 1990s to less than 200 today.
And it’s not just authors and publishers who are suffering from declining sales.
A recent survey by the Association of American Publishers found that nearly half of authors surveyed felt their publishing business was in “excellent” or “exceedingly good” shape, while a further 23% said they had “poor” or no business prospects.
So what’s the answer?
It’s not as simple as simply making a few tweaks.
As author and publisher Adam Roberts explains, the answer lies in the way publishers and publishers interact.
While it may sound like the world is changing, Roberts tells me that publishers are still in the same position they were in a decade ago.
“In terms of publishing, you’re still basically the same.
You’re just not as happy, and the same thing with book sales.”
It’s not that publishers and booksellers are on equal footing, Roberts says.
It’s just that publishers have had to adapt their business model in order to compete with Amazon, Google and Apple, while bookseller have had less competition.
As Roberts explains it, publishers still need to compete on the same level of quality and quantity with bookselling, while the market for books and authors is changing.
In the end, he says, publishers have to find a balance between increasing the quantity of their titles and creating the right balance between quality and value.
“If you’re not really trying to drive the same amount of revenue from your book, it’s going to take longer for that to happen,” Roberts says, “and you’re going to lose the market.”
And while publishers may be better off focusing on the quantity, it may not be enough to make up for declining sales in a year.
In the past, the majority of authors had to sell over a million copies before they could secure a contract.
Now, it seems publishers can sell tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands.
But there are still authors out there who want to publish a few thousand copies a year, and there’s a growing appetite for that kind of book.
The best part is that publishers can actually do that, too.
“If you have a great book, you can get published,” Roberts explains.
“It’s really about your ability to get published.
And you can be publishing right now.
There’s no other way.”