Thursday, July 5, 2012

Amazon and Apple Have Changed the Publishing Industry

Amazon.com and Apple have changed the publishing industry forever - and that's good news for authors, consultants, professional service firms, speakers, trainers and any other thought leaders.

Here's how it used to work...

Publishing a book used to be a slow, cumbersome, time-consuming process. Even if you managed to get your book accepted by a publisher (and that process could take a year or more), it didn't mean you would get it on the bookshelves quickly. On the contrary! That was just the start of the process.

When your book did finally arrive, the publisher did some initial marketing and publicity for it, but it wasn't long before they moved on to their next project. After all, their job is to sell books, not to sell your book.

When they did sell your book, you would get a royalty... usually a very small royalty. To be fair, the publisher paid for the entire production of the book, so they took all the risk. So it's not unreasonable that they would take a larger profit than you. But it did mean that most authors didn't get rich from their book royalties.

The publishing model has changed.

Some authors didn't want to wait to be picked by a publisher, so they self-published their books (After all, the "publisher" is simply the person who pays for the production of the book). Decades ago, this was called "vanity publishing", as if only authors with big egos would publish a book this way. But that's certainly not the case, and many experts chose self-publishing because it's faster, easier and more profitable than the traditional publishing route.

Of course, if you self-published a book, you paid for everything, and so you took all the risk. You get to keep all the profits, but you do take all the risk.

Not so long ago, self-publishing was an expensive and risky business, because you had to estimate how many books you could sell before you did your first print run. Many authors were too optimistic, and ended up with boxes of unsold books filling up their spare rooms!

The "print on demand" process has removed some of this risk, because it's no longer uneconomical to do a small print run. And even if you want a larger print run, you can do this offshore in places like China and India, for a very reasonable fee.

So self-publishing has become a legitimate way of getting your ideas into print. Some people still look down their nose at it, but provided you still invest in quality editing, proofreading, layout and design, a self-published book can be every bit as good as a printed book. And sometimes much better!

Now we have the e-book revolution.

Thanks to Amazon.com's Kindle and Apple's iPad, there's a new revolution in publishing: e-books.

As an author, you no longer have to go through the expensive process of printing a book on paper. You simply publish it in electronic form, upload it to Amazon.com, and it's instantly available to millions of potential customers. Amazon.com has created free Kindle apps, so that even customers without a physical Kindle device can read Kindle e-books on their iPad, iPhone, Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC.

An e-book might mean "electronic book", but it's much more than just the electronic equivalent of something that used to be printed. E-books can be very short or very long; they can have links to audio and video, or even have audio and video embedded in them; they can be given away as gifts to build credibility and foster loyalty; they can be shared (legally and illegally); they can be updated instantly whenever new material is available.

In short, an e-book is nothing like a book. The e-book revolution really is a revolution.

Will you be one of the revolutionaries?

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