Thursday, 18 February 2016
A Brave New World - Author Revolution
I continue to explore the changes in the publishing industry on various stakeholders. My guest today is Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author and publisher of Imajin Books.
In your role as a publisher, what changes have you seen in recent years?
What we've seen over the past ten years is an author revolution, with a dramatic increase in self-published or indie authors taking the lead. Educated writers who take on publishing as a "business," are discovering that most book retailers like Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, GooglePlay etc., have their own publishing platforms available to writers from many countries. Some authors published by the Big 5 have taken back their rights and self-published their titles. We've also seen many start-up hybrid or indie publishing companies open and close their virtual doors. Ebook sales have risen worldwide. Amazon still remains the leader in book sales, especially for ebooks, and more authors (indie and published by small publishers) are making it onto the overall Top 100 Best Sellers list on Amazon.com. We're also seeing a huge demand for translated works, and indie authors or authors published by hybrid publishers like Imajin Books now have more opportunities to see their works translated and sold in various territories. We've also seen an increase in freelance editors, proofreaders, formatters and cover designers, though writers should do their homework as not all offer quality.
How has your role been affected by the changes?
My role as publisher hasn't changed much. I'm still looking for exciting, well-written stories with memorable characters and plots, whether novels or novellas. More importantly, I'm looking for writers who know how to promote themselves online and in public. We are always on the lookout for authors who don't want to self-publish. We'll even consider authors who've left the bigger houses and retained their book rights. We've branched out into foreign translations, whether we publish them or negotiate deals for our authors with foreign publishers.
What is the impact of these changes on authors? On readers? On the book industry overall?
For authors, these changes mean no more paying tens of thousands of dollars for old-fashioned "vanity" printing, or no more paying thousands for a print-on-demand publishing package. Publishing a quality book takes an investment of $1500-4000, depending on who you know. Not only are writers publishing their own works, they're taking charge of their marketing and promotions. They realize, now more than ever, that this is a business, and like all businesses you need to invest time and money every month. Authors who want their books to sell must regularly invest, and that means buying ads from book promo sites, Facebook, Twitter etc.
For readers, there is now a large quantity of $0-$4.99 ebooks available daily. The Big 5 and mid-sized publishers are still jacking up ebook prices, but we're seeing lower-priced ebooks by some. eBooks published by Imajin Books have always been more affordable than those of bigger publishers, and we hold quite a few sales and freebie events each year.
What challenges and opportunities do these changes present to the various stakeholders?
The biggest challenge for authors is 1.) learning that they can't do it all. If they want to be taken seriously as a career author, they must hire professionals (editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers etc.), and 2.) making sure they have available financial support to properly promote their works.
The biggest challenge for publishers is trying to weed out all the hobby writers (those who will most likely only write one book, and usually not that well) from those who have true talent. This has always been an issue for publishers, but with the influx of new authors comes more manuscript submissions.
As for opportunities, there has never been a better time for writers to either publish their own works or find a smaller hybrid company to publish their books.
How are you positioning yourself to meet the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities?
At Imajin Books, we take advantage of all the tools that self-published authors have access to. We pay small advances but higher than average royalties. We have access to far more sales data than ever before, so we can take advantage of other people's experiences. Plus I am both indie published and traditionally published, meaning I've self-published some works and other publishers have published me too. This gives me the benefits of experiencing and learning from both sides. I believe this makes me a better publisher. I'm always on the lookout for new technology.
Do you have any additional thoughts you'd like to share?
I encourage writers to consider what they want out of writing. Do they just want to write for pleasure? If so, there's nothing wrong with being a hobby writer. Do you want to write books full-time as a career author? If so, make sure you're prepared to spend the money AND the time. You can't just throw a terribly edited work up on Amazon then ignore it and expect it to sell. There's much more to being a career author than writing a couple of books. Treat this as a business, and you'll see your business grow. And know that ANYTHING is possible. Even hitting the New York Times bestseller list!
Cheryl Tardif is the publisher at Imajin Books®, a hybrid publishing company in West Kelowna, BC, Canada. Utilizing today’s technology, Imajin Books publishes ebooks and trade paperbacks by international authors. Imajin Qwickies® is a novella imprint that launched in 2015, along with children’s imprint, Ogopogo Books™.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif is an award-winning, international bestselling author represented by Trident Media Group in New York. Booklist raves, "Tardif, already a big hit in Canada…a name to reckon with south of the border."
Check out Cheryl’s website and Imajin Books website, and connect with her on Twitter (Cheryl and Imajin Books) and Facebook (Cheryl and Imajin Books).
Photo credit: Jessy Marie, Ai Love Photography