Sunday, January 04, 2015

A Tough Year Ahead?

After last week’s review of 2014, I’ve been reading a number of predictions about this year, and let me tell you, it’s not a cheery picture.

As Mike Shatzkin reports in his popular blog, he suspects that many (but not all) indie authors will continue to lose income possibly due to a serious supply and demand problem. In other words, readers have either loaded up their Kindles with far more than they could possibly read or they’ve joined Kindle Unlimited’s (KU) subscription service to borrow books. It appears that a growing number of indie authors are earning significantly less per book on borrows than they would have through sales. He makes a good point that readers who were willing to try a lower priced, indie book by an unknown author are the same readers who are opting for KU. Simply put, there too many books and not enough readers.

These points are also referred to in a gigaom blog, which says that KU is facing strong competition from Scribd and Oyster subscription services. These two offer a wider selection of books to borrow as they have agreements with a couple of big five publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, which KU doesn’t have. As the blog notes, it will be interesting to see if these subscription services will also hurt traditional authors’ income.

By the way, to get a look at the growing author discontent about Kindle Unlimited, read this blog from The Digital Reader. The blog states that authors not in the KU program have also noticed a drop in sales. In other words, it’s quite possible that subscribers are borrowing so many books that they’re not buying anything right now. Will this change? Is a drop in authors’ income fixable, or is the beginning of the end for authors, especially those who aren’t interested in writing better books, just more books? (See last week’s blog referring to the number of indie authors who have apparently quit publishing.)

Since we’re discussing the year ahead, take a look at Mark Coker’s Smashwords blog. He provides twelve predictions for 2015, although I don’t agree with all of them. For instance, he says that more authors will aspire to indie publishing. Well, maybe more authors will choose Smashwords, given the trouble KU has caused. But it won't change the fact that there are too many books for sale and not enough readers willing to buy them.

As far as me, I’m mainly interesting in writing better books and short stories. The goal this year is to try a new genre and build a larger body of work. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.

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