Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Digital Book World Freaks Out at Hugh Howey's Accusations! #Pubtalk #DigitalPublishing #ASMSG

Freaked out Publisher Face,
which just so happens to look like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar...

Hugh Howey, author of the wildly popular bestselling 'Wool' series, blasted the world with jaw-dropping statistics on ebook sales vs. print, and Indie/Self-Pub stats: 

Via Hugh's new website, he revealed surprising statistics that demonstrate Indie/Self-Publishing is a massively growing trend, gaining in sales and market-share, and that a portion of Indie/Self-pub authors have been making more money than their counterparts in 'traditional-legacy' publishing.

(To get a complete picture, please visit Author Earnings, or JA Konrath's phenomenal blog post outlining the whole deal)

Now, the problem, Digital Book World, Bowker, and whole bunch of 'Industry Professionals' have staked their reputations by a completely different set of numbers. If you believe them, print sales are actually 70-75% and the rest is ebooks and audio-books.  And, if you believe them, Indies/Self-pubs and Amazon publishing book sales are not really eating up over 50% of the marketplace (the pros have it as a much lower percentage).  

Hugh Howey's numbers and well-defended conclusions have wrought CHAOS in the establishment. Digital Book World is repeatedly blowing up email newsletters filled with non-stop defensive arguments from Mike Shatzkin and Dana Beth Weinberg trying their damnedest to bring Hugh's data into question. 

Hmmm...The lady doth protest too much.

(check out Konrath as he blasts the 'industry professionals')

Email after email of denials and analysis of the analysis:

Setting the record straight, again, and again, and again...

Still trying hard to set the record straight....

In reading article after article of 'Industry Professionals' trying so hard to defend both their industry, and their sketchy data (skewed in their favor of course), a couple of things become clear through the quagmire of mud-flinging and accusations:

1)  Traditional Publishing does not yet understand that their business model is largely obsolete, and they are coasting on momentum, and the fallacy of belief that authors still need a publisher.

2)  Traditional Publishing has many proponents out in the media and industry. This myth that authors are better served by using a traditional publisher is still an entrenched ideal.  

But the foundation of this house of cards is starting to crumble, and the ugly truth has been exposed: 

We (Self-publishers) don't need you, Mr. Publisher. 

I don't need you, Mr. Publisher.

Why?  Because my books are sold worldwide, via Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Allromanceebooks.comSmashwords, and even as an emagazine on  

I am already making money publishing my books, and I only have three of my seven novels in paperback, and I don't even have a single audiobook. 99% of my promos are happening in social media, with very little paid promotion.  I run rebelmouse social media hubs. I run tribes on Triberr. I run several facebook pages, twitter profiles, and my fingers are pretty deep into Goodreads (haven't messed with Shelfari yet).

I am one of the many new publishers, both an author, and a publisher, and a social media promotional consultant.

I am making money in ebooks. 

I have never written a single query letter, not one. I have never downloaded a query letter format or bought a course on how to write query letters or attended seminars on how to query agents and finagle submissions to publishers.  

I have never bothered.

I, Travis Luedke, am part of a new breed of authors, who have never wanted or cared to have a publisher.  The only thing publishers can offer me is bookstore print placement, and some foreign rights (subrights).  I don't want a publisher in control of my editing. I don't want a publisher in control of my metadata. I don't want a publisher screwing up my blurbs and cover art, and sponging off my 60-70% royalties. 

I have seen authors struggling with their publishers, struggling with garbage cover art and having zero control over pricing, price promotions, giveaways, freebies, and yet they are still expected to do what I do in social media, to gather fans, to promote their writings, their blog, their books, and still they give up the lion's share of the sales royalties to the publisher. For what?  What value do publisher's bring to the table?

If authors must do all this work to connect with fans and sell their books out in social media, then what do they need a publisher for?

Obviously, Traditional Publishing is still the primary route for an author to get their books on the shelves of nationwide bookstores. Indies/Self-pubs are all waiting for the day that changes, we are biding our time for the moment a service provider offers a straightforward route into that final distribution point. 

That is what's called a vacuum in the marketplace. How long before a service provider comes along to fill that vacuum and blast open bookstores to Indie/Self-pubs?  

Amazon has offered to allow bookstores to sell Kindles and products, a wholesale/affiliate kind of deal.  Lightning Source has some limited access to bookstores for Indies with a certain amount of clout.

Okay, I was rambling, forgive me. 

The point is HUGH HOWEY, or more specifically, his numbers. 

Hugh's numbers and pie charts and line graphs and all that fun stuff is a classic case of data proving what I have learned by experience. These numbers are not wrong, they are a statistical confirmation of what I already knew, but never had the data (or time) to articulate.



  1. I have to agree with you. I don't want a print publisher dictating cover, blurb, advertising, editing, format of my books and demanding I sit all day in a bookstore to sell a dozen or so books. I don't need a publisher to take most of my earnings. Agents? Maybe useful when negotiating film rights.

    1. I hear that.

      But, to be totally honest, if a publisher started talking about six figure print-only deals, I would definitely be listening.

      The funny thing: By the time a publisher would want to approach me with a deal like that, I would be selling so well that I would be very hard-pressed to consider giving up all that control in exchange for a bigger paycheck.

      So, its one of those funny scenarios, publishers want to scoop up successful Indies, but, as a successful Indie, why would you want to do business with a publisher?

      A conundrum.


  2. I never want to give up my rights to anything. Movie deal? Lawyers are more needed than agents IMHO.

  3. Bookstore print placement is somewhat over-rated. It usually means the death spiral. And foreign rights--I'm thinking about translations to other countries but you can sell those rights to publishing companies overseas if the price and effort of getting the work translated is too much or too much effort.

    Great post on this!! I'm a small publisher...but I hope to be a dying breed to be be reformed into an authors advocate!

    1. Actually, its the small, nimble, author-centric publishers like you that will thrive in this new era of publishing. So, I don't think the need for your help, at your reasonable royalty rates, will ever go away.


  4. Bravo, Travis - great rant - do it often, please! LT :)

  5. I very much agree. Once (long long ago before ebooks existed) I tried to get a deal with a publisher, with no success. Now, I can't even imagine what kind of deal they would have to offer to entice me.
    I may have to work hard to promote my books, which are only just seeing some success, but I have control, perhaps the most important thing an author can have. I can change the cover/blurb/price, whenever I want.
    I love being an indie author. It may not pay the best at the moment but I see a bright future ahead, without someone in a suit in an office who is completely out of touch with the reading public deciding how my book should be sold.
    Yay for indies, and thanks for the great post highlighting how well we're doing.