Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Konrath's Ebook Predictions from 2009.

I wrote the following blog post in 2009, a list of ebook predictions.

I'll put my recent updates in bold:

1. Ebook readers will be available in stores for less than $99.I believe this is the magic price point, and the ability for consumers to purchase their device at their favorite department store will finally allow this tech to enter the mainstream.

As of today, the Amazon Kindle is now available for $79. The new Amazon Kindle Touch is $99. Kobo has been $99 for several months.

I expect B&N to drop Nook prices sometime soon.

Also, ereaders are now available in stores, Best Buy, Staples, Target, and many others.

2. Amazon will adopt Epub standard format. I've blogged about formats before, and how proprietary formatting is preventing worldwide acceptance of ebooks. The closest to a universal format is Epub, and once there are millions of non-Kindle ereadersout there, Amazon will want a piece of the pie and offer different formats.

They haven't done this yet. But they are releasing titles without DRM. Now that Amazon has launched several paper imprints, and B&N has refused to carry those paper books unless they can also sell the ebooks, it will be interesting to see how this gets resolved.

3. Ebook readers will improve. Well, no duh. All tech improves as time goes on. But I'm talking about the look and feel of the device, not just what it can do. As advanced as ebook readers are, they still look low tech. Compare this to the iPhone or iPodTouch. These devices look, and feel, 21st century. Some ereadermanufacturer will come up with a device that just looks right (the Nook comes close) and it will sell like crazy.

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet just announced, for $199.

4. Ebooks will go multimedia. The potential for ebooks to change the way a book is experienced has not been explored yet. Author annotation, interviews, video, audio, extras, music, deleted chapters, short stories--these are all benefits that could be added to content at no cost.

Not quite. There are a few companies doing some innovative things, but nothing that has caught on in a big way. Yet.

5. A third party etailer will rise to prominence. Currently, people buy most of their ebooks online at Amazon. But someone with deep pockets will launch a big website and begin to gobble upmarketshare. My guess is this site will be the first to begin offering the out-of-print backlists of published authors. Public domain isn't the key to success. Copyrighted work that is only available used is the key to success, because ebooks can make these vetted, professional books available again. It's a gigantic, viable, untapped market.

Smashwords and Kobo are doing very well. I just launched my own ebook store.

As for the copyrighted work I mentioned, Amazon is buying many out of print backlists from name authors, including Ed McBain and Max Allan Collins. Al's book just hit #1 on Kindle.

6. Estributors will become common. Where there are writers, there are folks who help writers and take a percentage of their income. Agents currently hold this position. But it won't be long until some smart folks realize they can make money being a liaisonbetween the writer and the ebook world, and offer services that include editing, formatting, uploading, and cover art, so the only thing the writer has to do is write.

I'm working with my agent in an estributor capacity. We'll see how it goes.

7. Print publishers will get savvy. Some major publisher is going to realize they can make more money selling ebooks for under $3 than selling them for $15, and they'll give it a try and be successful. Others will follow suit.

In the past two weeks, I've seen no fewer than eight Big 6 titles crack the Kindle Top 10 by selling them for $.99 to $2.99. Once they hit it, they jack up the price back to normal and the sales fall off. But they're learning...

8. Ebook bestsellers will emerge. As more reviewing sites and blogs dedicated to ebooks rise up, word-of-mouth will propel some independent ebooks author to bestseller status. It's inevitable, and both the print publishers and Hollywood will take notice.

Amanda Hocking and John Locke, anyone? I wrote this prior to their successes. I've also sold a movie option on an ebook.

9. Print books will be packaged with an ebook version. Perhaps it will come on a CD or an SD card. Perhaps it will come with a code so the ebook can be downloaded for free. But some smart publisher is going to include the ebook with the print version. A really smart publisher would also include a download for the audiobook version with the package. Then folks wouldn't mind paying $25 for a hardcover, if it came with those downloads.

I talked about this when I spoke at the Google Unbound Conference a few years ago. I've heard rumors of it happening, but nothing concrete yet. BTW, that blog about the conference is from January 2007. This is one of the things I said:

"On the subway today, I counted 7 people with PDAs, Blackberrys, and Palms, and two more with mp3 players. People need their media so much they're taking it with them when they leave their desks. Only three people on that train were reading newspapers. What does that say about the future of print media?"

All the major publishers were there, listening to my speech. None of them listened to me.

10. Exclusivity. If an author is big enough, they are available everywhere: Amazon, Nook, Shortcovers, iTunes, Sony, etc. But someone is going to sign an author exclusively, so their book is only available in one etailer location, to lure people to their device and website.

Barry Eisler. Boy, he did make the right choice signing with Amazon.

11. I'll continue to pay my mortgage with ebook sales. I've been self-publishing ebooks on Kindle since April, and every month since I've earned enough to make my monthly house payment. I'm also going to release a novel exclusively as an ebook in 2010, as a long-term experiment, to see if I can earn more in five years than I could on my previous print deals. This is the beginning of a very long tail, and writers really do need to think about how much their ebook rights are worth over the course of their lifetime and beyond. Because that's how long this technology will be around.

I've earned more in the last eight months than I did on all eight of my previous print deals, combined, since 2003. And this holiday season looks to be even better than last year.

So I got 8, maybe 8.5 out of 11 right.

So what do I see for the future?

1. Publishing houses closing. Maybe it will be bankruptcy or maybe their parent company will just shut the doors. These houses once controlled paper, and because of that they could control authors. Now paper is a subsidiary right (something I wrote about last year, before ebooks were actually outselling paper) and authors can do better on their own.

No lock on distribution + authors now having choices + readers unwilling to pay $12.99 for an ebook = game over.

2. Interactive multimedia. I've been talking about this for over four years. Vook and Hybrid Books are only the beginning. One day enhanced ebooks will be the norm.

3. Ads in ebooks. This is something else I've been talking about for years. The $79 Kindle is ad-supported. As ebooks drop in price (or become free) authors will supplement their income by selling ad space and taking corporate sponsors.

4. Ereaders under $49. It'll happened quicker than the drop to $99 took.

5. People abandoning paper. I've already gotten rid of several hundred paper books, replacing them with ebooks. Watch as more and more people do the same thing, just like they dumped their vinyl and VHS. Thrift shops, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, will stop taking book donations because they already have too many.

6. Global market. Ebooks will be worldwide. Smart authors will work with translators (or smart estributors will have translators on payroll) to exploit these new avenues, which had been closed off to all but the luckiest authors. And even then, foreign deals were notoriously small, and hardly ever earned out. Watch for self-published authors becoming international bestsellers.

7. Bookstores, book fairs, writing conferences, and writers organizations will have to change, or perish. As paper popularity fades, and self-pubbing ebooks becomes more prevalent, there will be fewer and fewer people who gather around paper books.

Companies like Autography will allow readers to get personalized autographs on their ebooks. Add some video-conferencing, and no one will even need to attend another genre convention.

Conferences that sucker authors into paying $500 for a chance to pitch to a Big 6 editor will disappear.

Used bookstores will do well in the beginning, due to all the people dumping their collections, but eventually won't be able to give books away.

All the professional writing organizations will have to admit self-pubbed authors, or their ranks will thin.

8. Pottermore is just the beginning. Watch as more and more authors lure their fans to their websites, without any need of a publisher.

9. We'll see a lot of new stuff from old writers. All writers have shelf novels, or ideas that they couldn't pursue because their publishers wouldn't allow it. There are no longer any barriers to ideas, and we're done with all that bullshit about buy-in and sell-through. The fate of books will be decided by readers, not by a handful of people in a room looking at prior sales figures.

10. Libraries. There are tens of thousands of libraries in the US alone. I currently have 30 ebook titles available. If I sell one copy of each of my ebooks to every library, I've made over a million dollars--and many libraries will buy multiple copies. When Canada, the UK, Australia, and eventually the world get in on the library thing, it's going to be gigantic.

11. I won't continue to pay my mortgage with my ebook sales.

That's because I'm paying off my house with my ebook money. :)

What about you folks? Any predictions for the future?

149 comments:

Mari Stroud said...

8 out of 11.5 is still a respectable C+, especially since so many people thought you were a kook. Hell, since so many people still think that you're a kook.

As more Big Six publishing houses tinker with $2.99 e-book prices, I can't help but see more and more traditionally published authors looking at them, then looking to their royalty statements, then looking back again and going, "...so what do you do, actually?"

Joe Konrath said...

As more Big Six publishing houses tinker with $2.99 e-book prices, I can't help but see more and more traditionally published authors looking at them, then looking to their royalty statements, then looking back again and going, "...so what do you do, actually?"

I think they'll be angrier than that. A Top 10 Kindle bestselling ebook can sell over 10,000 copies a day.

If that ebook is $2.99, an author earns 44 cents per copy sold.

20,000 sold is $8800.

20,000 sold of a self-pubbed $2.99 ebook is $41,000.

puravida said...

It's interesting the commercial aspect of having different sponsorships or ads in an ebook. Very forward thinking and liking where that may go.
Happier Than A Billionaire

Rob Cornell said...

My prediction: I will finally get lucky this Holiday season and hit the Kindle top 100 list by February. :)

Hey, it could happen. I have two more books due to go up before X-Mas.

Lulu Dean said...

Although my books are far different than yours, Joe, I am so grateful for your predictions ... past, present and future. As I finished my first collection of humor essays, Does This Pink Slip Make Me Look Fat?, I returned to your posts over and over and over. Your amazing generosity in sharing info, wit and wisdom is making a huge difference for so many writers and readers. Cheers! Lulu

Donna K. Weaver said...

Author David Farland's been talking and working on enhanced books for a while now. It's an exciting time for book lovers right now.

Bruce Andrews said...

Regarding people abandoning paper - I don't disagree, but its going to happen more slowly than, say, the disappearance of LPs. Actually, LPs aren't gone, but you have to look really hard for them. Many people are attached to them, but you don't interact with them so closely while you play them as you do with a book when you read it. Also, while LPs have great cover art, you can't see it while its in the shelf, whereas the title of a book still adds some ambience to a room. So I think books will have greater staying power, and there will be a number of pockets of resistance.

A generation from now, however, nobody will be able to figure out why.

S. A. Engels said...

I can see the ad-supported format being the wave of the future. Its a very effective way to pay for "space."

But I don't see the ad space being sold by the author. It only makes sense that the publisher (and in Amazon's case, the ereader manufacturer) owns the ad space.

So, you'll get to page 73 and your main character is calling on a cell phone, and the ad in the corner will be for a Motorola cell phone.

Can't wait to see the ads on the erotica novels!

SL Clark said...

Kudos Joe,
Ads in eBooks = present, Seth Godin has done this several times to great success. One page ad was a profitable eBook given to the early adopt Tribe.

Enhanced eBook = movie production? Recovering costs is hard at $0.99 for Apps today. -Steve

Milton Bagby said...

Oh great master, you are most wise.

Seriously, I don't know why every writer in America--from best seller to newbie--doesn't check this blog every single day.

Eric Christopherson said...

My predictions: (1) The Big Six will not go bankrupt. (They're all backed by too much money for that to happen.)

(2) Within five years, they'll drop the midlist entirely--or the midlisters will drop them--and only compete where there are still barriers to entry, in other words, do 7 figure deals and up exclusively, take after Big Hollywood.

(3) Beyond five years, the Big Six will become the Big Three and (4) there will be the return of a gentleman's club at the top of the publishing chain, wealthy publishers who aren't in the game to make a normal profit, but for the cultural cachet.

TK Kenyon said...

#9 -- HC books packaged with ebooks. Baen published some HC books last year with a CD-ROM containing that novel plus the author's backlist. I reviewed *Cryoburn* by LM Bujold and noted that the best reason to buy this HC DTB was the CD-ROM with the whole Vorkosigan series in most ebook formats on it. Review of Cyroburn at SFSignal.com.

You're better than you think!

TK Kenyon
TK Kenyon's Writing Blog
Tweet with TK!

Milton Bagby said...

I think what you'll see in the short run is big time authors going to some kind of hybrid publishing, with a solid indie like Ridan or maybe a new agent hybrid handling the details.

Not everyone wants to build a car before they take a ride.

Cyn Bagley said...

My prediction: ereaders in the schools for schoolbooks. ;-)

And hopefully, I'll have five more novels written (or more).

Cyn

Walter Knight said...

I would like to is see Amazon Kindle book sale royalties over seas (UK) paid at the 70 percent rate.

Why the difference in royalty rates from US sales?

Walter Knight said...

The nail in the coffin for the Big Six will be when quality photos and pictures from books are available on Kindle.

Reacher said...

"What about you folks? Any predictions for the future?"

yes. competition will soon increase for writers. once the playing field is totally leveled by legacy publishing going under, more good writers will emerge. less barriers = more good writers than in the past, which means trouble for poor/average writers. without naming names, many of the ebook superstars of right now will not be successful in a future where they have to compete in a much larger pool. they currently have a first mover advantage and are capitalizing on the fact that their books are 0.99-2.99 while most other authors' are 12.99. once every ebook is priced low, they are in trouble. and please don't say "it's not a zero sum game" -- if a reader has 10 great writers to choose from, all selling their books for 0.99, they aren't going to buy an average/poor writers' book just to stockpile it on their Kindle. in the future, readers won't have to settle for anything less than good/great writing like they do currently.

so don't underestimate quality as the ultimate predictor of success, much more so in the future than in the legacy past and transitional present. many writers who are successful with self publishing today will not be tomorrow because they won't be able to compete in the quality department.

Mike Fook said...

I predict:

1. Within a year Joe will see the value of threaded comments and get the hell away from a blogger.com blog.

2. More writers living in the USA will get the hell out and move overseas to write.

3. Regardless what happens to the world economy in the next couple months or years, there will always be a core group of people (a giant one) buying things online like ebooks, mp3s, renting videos, gadgets, jewelry and the rest of it. Get an online business - even if you are not a writer!

4. Mike Fook will be the first author to literally sell out of all available ebooks before 2012. Subsequently he will retire on Koh Phi Phi to suck down Beerlao in abundance and bliss.

Tina Boscha said...

Your predictions were eerily, spookily accurate. I'm glad I started reading you last year, because this blog really challenged my thinking. I have a long way to go before I pay off my house (my book has just been out a month) and who knows if I'll get there, but with the field of publishing changing so much and so rapidly, who knows?

Thanks for the new predictions. I eagerly await the outcome!

Joe Konrath said...

threaded comments and get the hell away from a blogger.com blog.

Can't do it. I don't like Blogger, but there are half a million links to my blog posts here. If I leave, the links die.

Em said...

Instead of wasting my time trying to find a publisher, I'll e-publish myself. All those years of trying to get past the gate-keepers are over. And I can offer my book at a low, affordable price and pocket more money than I would have if a big publisher had taken me on.

And I don't think I'm alone and I have you to thank for that goal change. Not only that, it won't be 6 months or a year of my books sitting in someone's slush pile before I can send them to sit in another slush pile! N

Joshua Simcox said...

Joe says:

"No lock on distribution + authors now having choices + readers unwilling to pay $12.99 for an ebook = game over."

I have some doubts about this one.

Obviously, I'd rather pay $2.99 than $12.99 for an ebook, but if that $12.99 gets me the hours of reading enjoyment that come with a new Harlan Coben, or Preston and Child, or John Connolly, versus $2.99 lost and hours wasted with a self-pubbed novel by a mediocre indie novelist that doesn't have the same writing chops, $12.99 is a much better value. For me, anyway.

If traditional publishing collapses, as Joe predicts, and all the bestselling heavy-hitters start self-pubbing at low prices, then certainly that's a win for me as a reader. But until that happens, I don't think Michael Connelly's or Lee Child's legions of fans are going to abandon them due to the ebook prices their publishers have set, especially when many of those fans realize that four indie novels for the price of one legacy novel isn't necessarily a great deal when the quality of the product (generally) isn't as high.

I realize that I'm in the minority here, at least where this blog is concerned, but I'm just not as yet unwilling to pay $12.99 for a favorite legacy author's ebook, especially when I know I'm getting something I'll genuinely enjoy for my investment. I haven't sworn off indie authors yet, but after being burned numerous times, I'm starting to lose some faith in them (Joe, Blake, and Scott Nicholson excluded). I'm certainly not ready to sacrifice my favorite legacy authors for them just because the indie guys have a lower price tag. I'm sure numerous other readers feel the same.

Customer reviewers at Amazon complain frequently about legacy ebook prices, but for me personally, the argument that one should choose the paper version over the ebook version because "it's only two dollars more" doesn't hold water these days. Paper is a burden. It clutters shelves, gathers dust, takes up space. Reading digitally on a device like the Kindle not only eliminates those issues, but it is so uniquely pleasurable that I find myself willing to pay a bit more for the experience rather than be burdened with another physical product to take up more of my ever-shrinking living space.

I would be curious to know if anyone else here can relate.

--Joshua Simcox

Charlie Pulsipher said...

You are spot on about multimedia ebooks. I know an author who is starting his own publishing company that will focus specifically on creating multimedia experiences packaged around the novel, including audio book, touchscreen technology, soundtrack, and more. He sees what you see and is capitalizing on it. I expect many to follow suit.

chris said...

@MikeFook:

Just watched one of your vids, Fooky.

I had my ass up against the cobra cage..!

Gonna get me a look at some of your books.

Lynna Merrill said...

Thanks for sharing your predictions, as well as the advice on this blog, Mr. Konrath. I released my own books recently, and your blog has been very educational. A prediction of mine would be that multimedia e-books would take some time to come, even after e-books have become more widespread. Most e-books are published by the writers themselves, and producing multimedia content is often not a writer's greatest strength.

Rick Novy said...

>>Amazon will adopt Epub standard format.

I would point out that Amazon now allows UPLOAD of EPUB files and they handle the conversion to their formats on their end.

Gary Jonas said...

Coming soon: some top editors will go freelance and provide their services for a small percentage of sales. Many of the NY editors can take a good book and kick it up to being a great book. The best of these editors will make a lot more money freelance than they ever did working for traditional publishers.

Many agents already provide a similar service, but imagine working with today's equivalent of Max Perkins.

cephalophore said...

I'm predicting the rise of ebook review blogs, staffed by professionals or semi-professionals who hold ebooks to a higher standard than Amazon reviewers - something more akin to the AV Club reviews section than to 'Jimmy's SF Reviews Blog'. Amazon.com reviews are all well and good, but 5 star ratings seem to be overwhelmingly common for the vast majority of books.

frank palardy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Fook said...

@Joe - when you transfer your blog over to WordPress or other blog - you can import all your old posts. You can then do a 301 redirect to point to your new posts. It is not a difficult move. It does take some time to 301 redirect them and have everyone - including Google - recognize the move. I did it to more than 5 sites. Recently a friend moved his big site - it took 2 mths for Google to get up to speed. The pagerank and Google trust - transfers quickly enough. You have some time now to do it the right way. In 2-4 months time Google will see what you've done and reward you for it. It won't take long for everyone that links to you - to re-link to you at the new blog.

Or, maybe if you hold out long enough blogger will get with the program - they have some radical changes coming - did you see them? New Ways to View Joe's Blog. Click top links for more views.

@Chris - thanks for checking out the site. I could have had a king cobra double injection right in my a** during that video. Mom told me I take the king cobras for granted. I did learn something from that episode - without a doubt.

Alain Gomez said...

"Ads in ebooks. This is something else I've been talking about for years."

Congratulations, we've reinvented the magazine.

Simon Haynes said...

I bypassed trade publishers with my new series. It just seemed the right time to break free and strike out on my own.
My previous attempt at self-pub was in 2000, which was a decade too soon as it turns out.

hijhinckx said...

1. Pottermore was preceded by The Mongoliad, "a community-driven, enhanced, serial novel that you read with your Web browser, smart phone, or tablet." While keeping control of the main story thread, the authors running it allow fanfic (which can use secondary/tertiary characters from the main thread if they wish).

This really draw fans into the Mongoliad world, making them feel invested in it. Fans who actually get involved and create stories and characters often make pictures of their characters, sometimes drawing graphic-novel style versions of their stories, and can now fairly easily create little home-made movies, soundtracks, etc. to go with their artistic endeavours if they wish. I suspect this and similar places are where some of the more creative (if amateurish) experiments in multimedia books will begin showing up very soon.

2. epub 3.0 allows for some respectable baby-steps towards a more multi-media form of e-book. It probably won't take off until Amazon buys into it or allows the equivalent in their format, but it's an additional step forward.

3. The average novel may shrink a bit more, effectively being replaced by novellas. Most modern adult paper novels are in the 80-105K word range, right? Currently most ebooks (as I understand it) are coming in around 50-65K wordcount and people seem perfect happy with this.

I think the average may shrink to the 30-45K range and stay at the $0.99 or so pricepoint each. That's 2-3 or so e-books worth of written text to one current paper novel. You can generate them much faster and keep your name out there. And as long as you keep a low price point, I would guess there won't be much complaint from your readers because they'll get to read new installments much more frequently than they do today (I would love your thoughts on this one).

4. To some degree combining aspects of the above, I think a lot of serial/series writers will begin thinking in new directions. Writing books that are matrixed to each other instead of meant to be read linearly, for instance. This isn't that radical - the simple form being any series with the same character and lots of adventures that can be read in any order - but the matrixing will be intended to enrich the reader's experience of the world and characters - filling in backstory, adding side adventures that enhance the reader's knowledge and understanding of the characters, etc. So though each story is basically stand-alone, having at least some knowledge of the world it's set in will add depth to the reader's experience and to the other stories in that series/world (this is something I am about to start experimenting with - right now just as plain old-fashioned e-books).

I also think this approach, if handled well and of course containing an interesting set of characters and tales, will play well towards the concepts mentioned in 1 and 5 of this list.

More below.

hijhinckx said...

5. Smaller movie-houses and production companies, and probably gaming companies, will begin working with those authors w/ widely popular series in a single world (eg, something to tie multiple stories together) - ala Pottermore or The Mongoliad - once the sales OR the number of fans in the virtual world created to support them and their beloved series reaches a certain level of popularity. Once we hit this level of multi-media integration, the problem will become the story-tellers fighting for readers' time because a single person can only get involved in so many virtual worlds. They can still just read the ebook, but that's going to become rarer and rarer as the older folks like me (late 40's) start dying out.

Eventually, perhaps by the time today's preschoolers are having children, I suspect reading a book will be an odd combo of text, interactive CGI graphics and sound (ala a video game), and a TV or movie-like experience that you or I won't even recognize. Perhaps following the POV characters around the story as an observer?

6. Print will largely move to hardcovers since ebooks effectively replace paperbacks. Once that plateau is reached, I suspect you'll start to see whoever is left in the Big 6 begin competing with the small niche publishers who release beautiful signed limited editions with artwork, etc. for purchase by those of us who still love and collect beautiful books. The publishers who remain after all that shakes out will basically wind up partnering with writers who wish to release a limited edition of certain of their tales (or collections of tales :) to collectors and readers who have an interest in a nice paperbound archival quality copy of a story with unique attributes like the written signature, unique artwork, etc.

The one exception I see right now is schoolbooks. Yeah, you can read them online easily enough, but so far what little research I've seen on how people study suggests that ebooks and their one-page at a time, one book open at a time approach severely limits their usefulness in studying for tests, writing papers, etc. I am sure that day will come, though - and it may well by the time that plateau of hardback-only print books is reached. I have no doubts that today's students will push until a solution to this issue is found. Perhaps it's simply allowing multiple books to be open on a screen at once, or the further virtualization of ebooks so you can "see" multiple texts and pages in your field of vision at one go (ala a heads-up display or similar).

7. Globalization - I concur w/your prediction, but given the price of translation services, I wonder if translators won't wind up setting themselves up as speciality services that authors can go to and arrange a deal - they get their English text translated to, say, Russian, and the translator takes home a significant percent of the Russian language sales or takes all of it home until some pre-agreed amount of money or time is reached. This puts a significant amount of the risk - and the potential payoff - on the translator, who would, in this situation, obviously only translate books they feel they can make money on. I say this because I don't see most authors ponying up the significant translation fee for each language - at least not until they reach a success level not so different from yours. :-) Thoughts?

hijhinckx said...

Drat - I mean "hardbound" instead of "paperbound" in 6, and "percentage" instead of "percent" in 7. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Websites recommending decent ebooks will grow in popularity, helping readers find goods ebooks from the morass.

www.goodbooks-toread.com

Lisa Hinsley said...

I see bestselling authors ditching the Big Six and signing with Amazon to get a heftier cut of their revenue. I see Amazon going even further to make it more difficult for newbie authors to get noticed – primarily by promoting the hell out of the big names they managed to sign. I see the Big Six going to increasingly desperate measures to stay solvent…

As for the little fish, I believe the mantra is write, write and keep on writing. Build a fan base and get lucky.

Lucas Nicolato said...

@Mike Fook,

2. More writers living in the USA will get the hell out and move overseas to write.

On the contrary, with the falling prices of the US$, I give you a few predictions:

1 - Several self-published writers from outside the U.S. will become major US best-sellers, either by paying someone to translate their works into English or by writing directly in English.

2 - Many of those international writers will move to the U.S., a beautiful country with a relatively low cost of living (if you don't believe me, google about the cost of living in the BRICs). Also, living in the U.S. will mean paying less taxes.

3 - At least one translator will become an "e-book millionaire" by proposing unknown writers to split royalties instead of charging them in advance.

And, please, before you decide to move out of the U.S., contact a consultant about Tax Treaties.

I live in Brazil, and the combined cut of U.S. and local IRS is about 60% of my ebook earnings!!!

David Gaughran said...

Hey Joe,

I think you were a little harsh on yourself there, and your score might be higher.

#2 Amazon adopting EPUB - lots of rumors that this is on the way.

#4 Enhanced ebooks - already happening, just not an a large scale yet (probably due to both the investment needed and the limitations of the format/devices). But, "The Waste Land" app was #1 for a while over the summer. If an enhanced ebook of a backlist title from a dead English poet can hit #1, imagine what Rowling, King, Patterson, or Grisham could do.

#9 There are a couple of smaller houses doing this already - Baen is one - and I believe Cory Doctorow did this for his last.

Regarding the future, do you see subscription models forming a big part of the mix? I know Amazon put out feelers to publishers to include e-books in Amazon Prime, but were rebuffed. But maybe that's because it was Amazon, and publishers are wary of giving them even more power.

Could a different company have success here? There are a few start-ups going for the Spotify-for-Books model. Do you see that taking off? (i.e. free, unlimited reading with ads in books, pay a subscription to have them removed)

Dave

Christina said...

Ads in ebooks. This is something else I've been talking about for years. The $79 Kindle is ad-supported. As ebooks drop in price (or become free) authors will supplement their income by selling ad space and taking corporate sponsors.

As a reader, I can't think of any other idea that makes me more wary. Ads in my books? Ick. Ick. Ick.

Barry said...

I predict I will keep listening to you in 2012. :)

Edward G. Talbot said...

Two predictions:

1.Over the next year, Amazon's share of the ebook market starts climbing again. I'm convinced the Nook color available in a brick and mortar store was the reason B&N started grabbing more share despite having a "less than optimal" buying experience on their site. But they've got nothing to counter what Amazon just announced. This may be bad for authors in the long run - though I am looking forward to January 2012 sales!

2.Big publishers have actually resisted the price drop longer than I thought they would. Listing books for $1 or $3 just to get them ranked is one thing, but people are still buying $7-$13 ebooks. My prediction is that what will finally really lower prices is actually indie authors RAISING theirs. I've seen more $3.99 indie ebooks do very well recently, and I think we'll see $4.99 start happening more as well. Authors who consistently sell 500 or more a month of $2.99 titles will start to experiment more. When the gap between tradpub prices and indies gets smaller, the difference will start to blur and more readers will try indies.

David Gaughran said...

@Christina

The startups working on a subscription model are planning ads in books. However, they are less intrusive than you think. It's not like a character will whip out his cell and an ad for Motorola will pop up. They won't be text ads on the side like Google either. They are more like glossy one page ads in magazines that you can quickly flick past if you so wish.

Joe Konrath said...

I've seen more $3.99 indie ebooks do very well recently, and I think we'll see $4.99 start happening more as well.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I'm going to raise one of my Kilborn books to $3.99 for October to see what happens. Naturally, I'll keep everyone posted.

Joe Konrath said...

Regarding the future, do you see subscription models forming a big part of the mix?

Yes. And no. And yes.

Subscriptions will happen. And I can foresee a future where books are treated like movies--authors make deals similar to Netflix or cable TV, with properties being available for a limited time for a set dollar amount.

This is very similar to the library market, which I really think is the Next Big Thing (should have mentioned libraries in my predictions--in fact, I think I'll add it.)

But there are a lot of things to work out for a subscription model to be sustainable. Cost for the reader, and royalties for the writer, are the two biggies. I can imagine a lot of indies balking at the thought of reduced royalties for book rentals (which is what this essentially is.) I also wonder if the Big 6 will be allowed to release their backlists as rentals, because I'm not sure contracts will allow it.

Subscriptions no doubt work for some media. But more people use iTunes than Pandora or Emusic, and I think that could be because 99 cents for owning a song is so cheap that people don't mind paying.

We've heard a lot about the cloud, and media being accessible 24 hours a day without the requirement of ownership. That may be the future. But with memory so cheap, and hoarding tendencies part of our genetic make-up, I still think some folks will want to own the digital copies.

So yes, subscription models will be viable in the future, but I don't see them usurping sales for a while.

Most of all, I see many revenue streams available to the author--sales, libraries, subscriptions, ads, global market. It's going to be lucrative for w long time.

S. A. Engels said...

@ David, I respectfully beg to differ on ads.

I can see (with MY crystal ball) that the advertisers will want more time on the page. DVDs are doing this now, where I have to sit through certain ads in their entirety before I can get to the movie.

I suppose that there might be a hybrid of the two. Every chapter maybe a nice, glossy ad. But more often a content specific, or READER specific ad (ala Facebook).

We'll see. As long as it keeps the commission structure at 70% for a $2.99, so be it.

And I hate to say it folks, ads are still what makes TV and magazines possible. Multimedia will follow suit.

Nancy Beck said...

I would hope ebooks are shorter and they're more readable.

@frank parlady - I think the shorter lengths are already there. I've seen (and purchased) more novellas/short novels and short stories than I ever thought I would.

I've been in the corporate office world for quite a while, and getting to the point quickly is the nature of the beast; all of my writing is minimalist because of that.

And because of that, I have to put in stuff when I edit or no one would know what the hell I was talking about. :-)

Which is why I've started out with a novella/short novel series, because I can't see stuffing it full of words just for the sake of doing that. :-)

Changing Faces

Nancy Beck said...

As for predictions, I predict that the fantasy doorstopper will survive only in hardback.

I just can't see reading something that huge on a computer; my eyes would cross. Or something.

The hardback will be filled with extras, like maps or color drawings, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I tend not to go for those behemoths (tho I read mostly fantasy), but I did pick up Brandon Sanderson's latest as a hardback (curious) - but I only cracked open the book long enough to read the prologue.

Nancy Beck said...

Many of those international writers will move to the U.S., a beautiful country with a relatively low cost of living

You obviously don't live in New Jersey. ;-) (Trust me, low cost does not equal living in New Jersey.)

Jussi Keinonen said...

Striking a chord with Lucas Nicolato, I'm coming from another language area (Finland) too:

Translators of all languages will seek authors of other languages to time-invest in translating them. These can be at least partly on a profit-sharing model. They can take on the role of a local foreign rights agent.

I've got a Finnish translator for Joe looked up already. :)

Carl said...

"As of today, the Amazon Kindle is now available for $79. The new Amazon Kindle Touch is $99. Kobo has been $99 for several months.

I expect B&N to drop Nook prices sometime soon."

The $79/$99 price points are for the ads version of the Kindle. The ad free models I believe are $40 more, so the price is in line with B&N's model for the Nook Touch. Wouldn't be suprised to see the Nook Color price come down to match the Amazon tablet though.

Jussi Keinonen said...

On thing missing from the predictions yet:

The erosion and decimation of the retailers share when competition really starts. The 30 % "standard" will not hold on.

I predict 10 %, like Google already is offering in some areas.

Sean McCartney said...

Great post. I think the enhanced ebook will be the next great thing and when it comes schools should pick up on it right away. I know how hard it is to get kids reading and this would help.

Sean

Janice Lane Palko said...

That decades from now, you will known as the Johannes Gutenberg of the e-publishing age.

Your blog has disabused me of the notion that traditional publishing was the gold standard and has liberated me to go indie.

Thanks,

Ann Voss Peterson said...

As far as subscriptions are concerned, I'd watch to see what Harlequin does. They have used a similar model in the past with paper books, and it is my (somewhat educated) guess that they are currently positioning themselves to pursue this with ebooks.

Pump Up Your Book said...

I've been saying this for awhile now...get those books out there now before the market gets satiated! Great post, Joe!

Todd Trumpet said...

My Predictions:

1. As more and more writers turn to electronic publishing, Konrath's blog comments will routinely top 1000/post.

2. Advertisers will take notice, and Joe's future rants about publishers, agents, and luck will be sponsored by Pepsi, Chevy, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, respectively.

3. Buoyed by illimitable income, Joe Konrath declares "A Newbie's Guide To Publishing" to be a sovereign state, and insists on being referred to as "LORD Joe".

4. Since absolute power corrupts absolutely, Lord Joe begins invading other blogs, acquiring even more wealth and power until the internet itself becomes his eBitch and, with the worldwide implatation of The Chip (developed by Joe, Ink.) allows Konrath complete dominion over humankind - leading to a final, inevitable outcome:

5. Joe Konrath marries Angelina Jolie.

All hail!

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Joe Konrath said...

internet itself becomes his eBitch

You just made Lord Joe spit espresso.

Rebecca Burke said...

I agree with your comment about old writers coming out with new stuff that their publishers wouldn't take. In some sense, this applies to my newly epubbed novel, The Ahimsa Club. I was represented by a "good" agent at the time I wrote it, but she informed that no publisher would take it b/c it's about animal rights, a topic that was apparently radioactive. Silly me--I just thought it was an interesting subject to explore, and something that would grab young readers in particular. I found a small-medium press that liked it a lot and agreed to publish it, but when their marketing dept. got wind of it they made them back out b/c of the subject matter. Who knew?! Certainly not me--I wrote it not as an activist but as someone who liked the idea of turning a complex issue into a fast-paced, and even humorous story for young adults.

Many years later, the miracle of indie publishing occurs. No publishers, large or small, telling authors what "will fly" based on their own fears of backlash or small sales.

Thanks for another great post, Joe.

Ian Pattinson said...

I predict that paper will go the way of vinyl- which means it'll never die.

Go to any decent sized record shop and you'll still see 7" and 12" pressings of new and recent releases. There are record fairs for collectors of old vinyl. I work for a company which sells hifi and AV (audiovisual) kit. In amongst all the 55" 3D flatscreens and 9.2 channel, dozen format home cinema systems we still list turntables and related equipment. Most of these record players look nothing like your old gramophone, with constant tuning, new materials and ever more precision. Not only do some people swear they sound better but next to the kit bristling with features they do have an understated beauty.

Whilst ebooks will kill, or at least seriously injure, the plain words on paper, bread and butter end of publishing I predict a rise in books as beautiful objects. My Kindle's convenient, and you can do some neat stuff with illustrations on an ipad, but there's a joy to a big book on glossy paper. Add tipped in holograms, embossing etc. and I see what you might call coffee table books turned up to 11. There are also experiments to be done with the medium of words and pictures on paper, such as the recent SVK comic by Warren Ellis and Matt "D'Israeli" Booker which had elements printed in ink which only showed up when you shone the included UV torch at the page. There'll be some successful publishers that do well from "value added" books, though they'll probably not be one of the current big guys.

Before you start throwing stones at the Luddite can I just add that, otherwise, I think Joe's predictions are close to the mark. I've been writing for ebooks since about this time last year when I discovered Brits could publish on the Kindle. The backlist and the sales are growing slower than I'd like, but I'm working on the basis that once it's up it's there forever and everything else just builds on it. I predict that I'll have my first $100 month by Easter and will be looking at the prospect of $100 weeks by this time next year.

Gary Ponzo said...

I predict the Red Sox and the Braves will meet in the World Series this year . . . oh, wait, I haven't read the paper yet this morning.

Never mind.

Tut said...

Enjoy your info on this topic. I tried unsuccessfully to find your posts about ebook formats. I need to educate myself on epub vs other options. Help!

Rex Kusler said...

To cut costs further, eventually the only paper books available will be printed on rolls of toilet paper.

Hazel Anaka said...

Please accept my thanks for all you do: resources, predictions, kick-in-the-pants motivation. As someone who is still green as grass (just one e-book to my name: Lucky Dog) your generosity is appreciated. Can't wait to see what you do next!

Now back to work, that second book isn't going to write itself!

BillSmithBooks said...

Joe --

As usual, insightful and interesting.

I have a few of my own predictions for the next two years:

1. Sub $50 ebook reader.

2. The DRM-backlash begins.

3. Traditional publishers rendered even more irrelevant :)

(The upshot: limited selection at remaining bookstores pushes more and more consumers to buying almost exclusively online, both ebooks and physical books.)

4. A leader will appear in the field of book recommendation and discoverability. This is what the industry REALLY needs.

5. (for 3-5 years from now) POD publishing will be available in almost every small town, at every Starbucks and McDonalds, and the re-emergance of the small (Waldenbooks-sized) bookstore that is half store, half cafe, with a row of POD printers in the back room for immediately printing and delivery of any book you want.

6. International Epublishing goes mainstream.

http://billsmithbooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/predictions-of-publishing-industry.html

-- Bill Smith
www.BillSmithBooks.com

gniz said...

Joe,

I want to send you a check or a gift or something. What kind of wine do you like to drink? I'm dead serious here. Or beer. Whatever.

You've basically made it possible for me to quit my shitty 9-5 corporate job I had for 10 years. I could never get a traditional publishing deal, but now between the ebooks I've written and some stuff my wife has going on, I've been writing full-time for the last 5 months.

The money has been amazing but the freedom is truly priceless. I know you get a lot of thanks, but what about gift baskets?

BillSmithBooks said...

Oops, bad URL:

http://billsmithbooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/predictions-of-publishing-industry.html

Apologies in advance if linking to my own blog is bad form, just smack me down if this is the case.

- Bill

K. Drollinger said...

You have been right about many things so far, and I am sure many of your new predictions will come to pass as well. However, I have to say I am one of those freaks that will always have some paper books. The older they are the more interesting. I will always like the look and feel of a book more than a tablet.

As for your prediction about libraries, I have to think that libraries in general will drop off in number. With every step father into the world of the internet the less people like to go out. Eventually we could have one massive library online with servers in each state instead of physical locations. In which case, they wont need to buy multiple copies of books.

As for this Christmas season, I wouldnt expect it to be all that great. Everyone is in economic crisis and we are in a double dip recession. My mom works for a branch of corporate Macy's and she has been really stressed over their predicted sales this holiday season. Ebook authors may want to offer sales/coupons/whatever to make their titles more enticing for readers to purchase, especially if its a new title. You could argue that most ebooks are already ridiculously low priced, but everyone is tightening their purse strings. Just a thought.

Stella Baker said...

Rex said: To cut costs further, eventually the only paper books available will be printed on rolls of toilet paper.

Wow...negative reviews reach new lows!

Dawn Wilson said...

I want to implement a soundtrack into an e-book. Movies have soundtracks, why not books? I am looking for someone to help me with this---and if you know of anyone, send them my way---
Original songs may even be devoted to certain characters. (which is what I want to do with my upcoming book, but alas, I have the songwriting ability of a very talented squirrel.)

Also, there could be background music (like in a movie) that sets the mood depending upon chapter.

And THANK YOU Konrath for putting yourself out there and helping other writers with this experiment. You rock my socks.

Steven M Moore said...

Hi Joe,
As fiction writers, we tend to emphasize what's happening in the eBook market FOR US. As an ex-scientist, I often wonder how the textbook industry will handle the eBook revolution, especially since technology and science texts seem to be graphics-intensive.
This brings me to the idea of "eBook chapterization," i.e. the idea of taking an entire book or text and producing mini-eBook-formatted chapters. It seems like there's a market for such things, especially in textbooks but alos biographies and literary fiction. Lee Child's short on Jack Reacher's past also comes to mind.
Just a thought.
r/Steve

Adam Pepper said...

I predict the trend of once-"snarky" agents and editors suddenly turning altruistic and nice continues, as they realize they may soon need freelance gigs from the same folks they've been ridiculing for years.

Anonymous said...

@Ian wrote:

"I predict that paper will go the way of vinyl- which means it'll never die.... Whilst ebooks will kill, or at least seriously injure, the plain words on paper, bread and butter end of publishing I predict a rise in books as beautiful objects."

Agree completely. (And I was a comp sci major and work in the tech field, so hardly a luddite). Vinyl is very much alive and well in the genre I listen to -- new Metal albums (both underground acts, and better known bands like Iron Maiden) will often have a "limited edition" vinyl option in addition to Mp3 and CD.

I've been saying for at least a decade that the cheap paperback and the disposable newspaper will be replaced by electronic versions, but this will only increase the appreciation for book-as-object-of-art in anyone with the slightest tendency towards bibliophillia, and the paper market will move towards quality hard-cover editions.

Anonymous said...

*counts backwards* -- make that 15 years, rather than 10. Though at the time, I expected it to happen much sooner / more quickly than it has, so what do I know?

Matt J said...

Joe, just curious about some of the math and where other costs are in the mix (Greenhorn with a capital G here). From a high level view, if you sell 20,000 books/month at $2.99, that's 60,000 X 70% = $42,000. Now, I know there are some other expenses involved, depending on contracts, but how do you get as low as $.44 cents/book = $8,800. That doesn't really fare better than what writers received traditionally from legacy publishers for the same # of books (understanding, of course, that they sold the print versions for far more than the equivalent e-version sells for now, and that the old ways are gone, regardless). Just curious (in all humility and sincerity), what I'm missing. P.S. - Legacy example might be 20,000 x $9.00 per trade pb at the very lowest = 180,000 X 8% = $14,400, give or take.

Anonymous said...

Ebooks (including EPUB) were already multimedia well before 2009.

People have predicted an e-reader at $99 or below since the Kindle arrived four years ago.

Seriosly, Nostradamus? Everything you "predicted" has been widely discussed for years.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say that the "Anonymous" with the reply to Ian (and the followup post immediately following) is not the same person as the "Anonymous" with the sarcastic Nostradamus comment.

I really should get a blogger account.

Jussi Keinonen said...

Dawn Wilson said...

"I want to implement a soundtrack into an e-book."

This is already being tried and done with the $4.99 per month hear-almost-all-the-music-you-want model of Spotify. Basically any author can make their own playlist as an recommendation of listening while reading the book.

It will take some tech development to integrate the changing of songs to the page you're reading, though.

A successful Spotify model will inevitably come to books, too, and there are companies like 24symbols trying it out.

A huge problem, however, is that Spotify doesn't pay the artists nearly enough, something like 0.02 cents (yes, you read right, not dollars) per song listened to. Spotify is part-owned by the music industry majors... we'll see what happens with books.

Cyn Bagley said...

I am already starting to review only ebooks and the newer ebook authors. And my fav. legacy writers??? - I am waiting for the books to drop to 2.99 or under.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I preordered the new Neal Stephenson book Reamde for Kindle. It was $16.99. CRAZY PRICE!!

However, it's Stephenson and it's 1000+ pages (yeah!) and it's Stephenson. 'nuff said.

Ok, read the book in a weekend. Great book, but nothing near as awesome as his previous works. (bummer...)

Today, Amazon sends this email:

We're writing about your past Kindle purchase of Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. The version you received had Missing Content that have been corrected.

An updated version of Reamde: A Novel (ASIN:B004XVN0WW) is now available. It's important to note that when we send you the updated version, you will no longer be able to view any highlights, bookmarks, and notes made in your current version and your furthest reading location will be lost.

If you wish to receive the updated version, please reply to this email with the word "Yes" in the first line of your response. Within 2 hours of receiving the e-mail any device that has the title currently downloaded will be updated automatically if the wireless is on.

People are NOT HAPPY about this. The pissed off reviews/comments are coming in fast and furious.

Apparently, AZ customer service can't or won't even tell you what was "missing" and the new file doesn't indicate it either.

Traditional published, high price point, screw up.

Sean McCartney said...

Joe-Which ebook has be optioned and how did that come about? Will that be a post? Just curious.

Sean

Joe Konrath said...

@Anon - Feel free to point us to your 2009 post where your predictions came true.

If not, feel free to STFU. :)

Anonymous said...

Lit agent Janet Reid last week, giving advice in 'what writers should be doing now):

...Do NOT drink the kool-aid on E-publishing. It's too early to be making sweeping statements about any of it. We're all learning this as we go and the right answer to almost everything is "we'll see what happens." - Janet Reid, on what writers 'should be doing now, sept 22, 2011

Prediction: by this time next year Janet Reid will be saying:

'Hi, I'm New York agent Janet Reid, and I am now offering a smart, efficient editing and ebook-production service for all those writers out there who...'

Anonymous said...

better, Reid will be posting chirpy, helpful comments here, hoping at attract new clients to her new business.

elf said...

I started to reply, and it got too long, so I posted it elsewhere.

I think you're right, with a couple of caveats: I think multimedia will indeed grow, but quickly become "new type of entertainment, not books," just like movies quickly became "not plays." They'll stop being considered in the same market niche, because they'll appeal to different people and require different tech.

And I think ads will continue to not-quite-work, especially as long as mainstream publishers cling to DRM. I think authors & publishers will continue to *want* ads, and readers will continue to grumble about the possibility but be willing to accept them--but that ebooks, like pbooks, will continue to be not worth the cost of access to most *advertisers.*

But most of the rest--floundering publishing houses, more online interaction with authors, *lots* more content by lots more authors--is spot on.

Patrice said...

Impressive predictions!

Alan Tucker said...

I predict every author will publish under the name "James Patterson" and this will be the only author seen in major retail outlets …

Oh … wait. It can't be a prediction if it's already true, huh? Hm. I wonder what Patterson would charge for me to use his name …

BTW: my verification word for this post? wrong

I'm not sure how to take that.

Barry said...

Ah, Janet. I can't resist unpacking a little:

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-talk-to-nyc-chapter-of-sisters-in.html

"Do NOT drink the kool-aid on E-publishing."

What does this mean, other than that the declarant thinks in cliches?

"It's too early to be making sweeping statements about any of it."

Isn't that itself a sweeping statement?

Never mind. As with the Kool-Aid reference, these sorts of massively vague pronouncements are difficult to address because, as articulated, they're fundamentally meaningless. But if you think about it for a second or two, just why would it be too early to come to various conclusions about the nature, trajectory, and speed of the revolution we're seeing in publishing? We have a lot of data, after all, to which we can apply logic while extrapolating from experience. Isn't analyzing broad industry trends, and trying to understand, extrapolate from, and exploit them, exactly what smart businesspeople ought to be doing? If you have to decide -- today -- between a legacy deal and self-publishing, should you just stick your head in the sand and your ass in the air?

"We're all learning this as we go…"

Well, no, there are clearly many people who are *not* learning as they go, or learning at all, for that matter. The rest learn different lessons and at different rates. The different lessons people are learning -- that is, the different conclusions people are coming to as experience continues to accrue and as data continues to come in -- are interesting and potentially valuable for anyone who thinks understanding today where the industry will be tomorrow is a potentially advantageous thing to do.

Barry said...

"...and the right answer to almost everything is 'we'll see what happens.'"

Absolutely! If something that looks like a tiger pops out of the underbrush and is hurtling toward you, it's best not to make sweeping statements. Better to learn as we go and just see what happens. Running for a tree would be foolish.

Same thing in intelligence work. Who really can say where Pakistani nukes are stored, or how soon China might be able to deploy a blue water navy, or who are the true power brokers in Russia? Better to just sit back and see what happens.

And isn't the same inevitably true in business? If you're in the horse and buggy business and you hear about a thing called a car, or if you're in the the candlelight business and you hear about a thing called an electric light, or if you're in the eight-track cassette business and you hear about a thing called a CD, or if you're in the paper book business and you hear about a thing called Kindle, you should absolutely avoid trying to understand -- let alone exploit! -- any of it, and should instead sit back and just see what happens. In fact, sitting back and seeing what happens is the one common denominator of profitable businesses and successful businesspeople. Amazon, for example, became a a hundred-billion-dollar company by doing little else but going along and seeing what happens, while legacy publishers are dying precisely because they've always ruthlessly examined, prepared for, shaped, and exploited industry, technological, and cultural trends.

"Drinking the Kool-Aid" means "to become an unquestioning believer in some ideology, or to accept an argument or philosophy wholeheartedly or blindly without critical examination." Who's really doing that here? And the phrase is derived from the Jonestown massacre, where cult members followed one another into a massive group suicide. Again, not a bad metaphor for following "advice" like Janet's, which consists of nothing but cliches, sloppy thinking, and bromides.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_the_Kool-Aid

It's one thing to be not very good at making predictions yourself, and Janet's track record is not the best:

http://twitter.com/#!/trow125/status/51355244587794433

But to advise that everyone else refrain from trying to understand where the industry is going and how we might profit from how it's changing? That's just irresponsible.

LK Sherman said...

While you're at it Joe, can you tell me who's going to win the Rangers-Rays series?

I predict the average bestselling novel will get much shorter, and short stories and short novels will become an increasingly big chunk of the fiction market.

I.J.Parker said...

Well, it may be that agents need to keep their stable of authors from defecting en masse. Some agents are absolutely comfortable with the way they have always done business. And these agents are beholden to the big publishing houses. It may just be that Janet Reid has made clear who she really works for.

Yuwanda Black said...

Joe:

On getting away from blogger -- it will never happen completely probably, but you can start a WP blog, for example to upgrade your look -- and link back to this blog from that one.

I put off my sites' design for abt 3 yrs b/c I had the same problem. Then, a reader who was sick of my old site design (it was very dated) suggested that I just start "blogging in a new design for God's sake!"

That was a eureka moment for me. I did and while three yrs later all of my old posts on my blogger blog still haven't been migrated over into my current site's design, as the info is helpful, my readers haven't minded.

They're just glad I got away from blogger (and from my old site).

Note: As I find time, I migrate pages over and put a redirect link in the old blogger spot. You could, I'm sure, afford to hire someone to do that for you outright -- all at once.

Just a thought.

On the writing front -- because of the inspiration I found on your blog, I'm trying my hand at fiction for the first time (a murder, werewolf-inspired thiller). I'm co-writing it with my sister.

Even if it doesn't sell one copy, I'm having a ton of fun and am glad to be writing in a diffrent niche (I've published over 20 non-fiction ebooks on Amazon -- mostly on freelance writing/small biz/internet marketing).

So, thanks for all that you do. Yours is one of the few blogs I read religiously -- and have even told my 18 yr old nephew about. He's a brilliant writer (of course!), and wants to self publish, of course! :-)

DVshooter said...

I see a big and ever growing market for short work. You've menetioned numerous time that you'll always write shorts and novellas on top of the "two books a year" formula.

Once an incredibly small market (what...3, 4 short story mag's...tops...depending on your genre?) now has endless "magazine rack" space. They're conusmer friendly at .99 cents and cheaper and fit into the morning commute or the Dr's waiting room. Nice way for indie authors to supplement their total e-earnings and grow their readership.

I see basic e-readers being free with subscriptions, maybe not by the end of next year but they will be.

The exploding foreign market will create a cottage industry of translation and foreign marketing services.

The Big 4 will completely redesign their business models (and their vertical structure) to market, promote and provide creative and foreign services to indie authors who sign with them for more favorable percentages than traditional.

But this will only happen only after the Big 6 become the Big 4.

Anonymous said...

Do NOT drink the kool-aid on E-publishing.

I can't remember the last time I went to Barnes and Noble to look at or buy a physical book (though they do make good drink coasters). I only go there to write.

Joe Konrath said...

But to advise that everyone else refrain from trying to understand where the industry is going and how we might profit from how it's changing?

"Daddy, those lights are coming straight for us!"

"Don't move! Just remain standing in the middle of the street, and we'll wait and see if they run us over or not."

Anonymous said...

"Do NOT drink the kool-aid on E-publishing."

I've sold 11,000 ebooks for $2.99 on kindle in September. That's more than the first printing of my first novel with a Big 6 publisher a few years ago. From where I stand, the Kool-Aid tastes just fine. But thanks for the input, Janet.

David Wisehart said...

Adding to prediction #8, I see successful authors "windowing" their releases.

For the first month, a new title is available only from the author's own website or estore. Their current fans buy directly from the author, and the author makes nearly 100% of the purchase price.

After that, the book is made available through other distributors like Amazon and B&N, who take a distribution fee.

Third-party distributors will sell an author's backlist, while the frontlist is exclusive to the author's own site.

Clearly, this will work best for authors with lots of fans and a significant mailing list. But windowing will also encourage fans to join an author's mailing list. Fans get the special privilege of an early read, and authors make more money.

David

wannabuy said...

@Ian "I predict that paper will go the way of vinyl- which means it'll never die."

So true. It will become a small niche market. Most music is bought either digital or grandma sends a CD.

Though overall album sales dropped 13 percent in 2010, sales of vinyl increased by 14 percent over the previous year, with around 2.8 million units sold.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/vinyl-sales-increase-despite-industry-slump-20110106

2.8 million versus the heyday of the CD at just under a Billion. Yawn.

Neil

wannabuy said...

Vinyl is about 1% of the music market.

One percent!

I love ebooks, but I fervently hope ebooks do better:

http://ebookcomments.blogspot.com/2011/09/why-talk-of-vinyl-and-paper-books.html

Neil

Mark Asher said...

10. Libraries. There are tens of thousands of libraries in the US alone. I currently have 30 ebook titles available. If I sell one copy of each of my ebooks to every library, I've made over a million dollars--and many libraries will buy multiple copies. When Canada, the UK, Australia, and eventually the world get in on the library thing, it's going to be gigantic.

I think you are being too optimistic here.

First of all, only a small percentage of writers will be able to sell to libraries -- there are about 40,000 new Kindle titles uploaded every month. I'd be surprised if libraries buy more than a couple hundred of those.

Second, libraries will pool their ebook collections. Where I love about 8 local libraries have done this. The result? There is typically only one copy of an ebook purchased that all libraries share. I expect every metro community to do this because it makes sense. Libraries are not in the business of trying to make money so they are not competing with one another. They share books and ebooks are perfect for pooling.

I'm not saying there won't be money to be made from libraries, but most indie writers will be lucky to see any of that money.

DVshooter said...

Subscriptions no doubt work for some media. But more people use iTunes than Pandora or Emusic, and I think that could be because 99 cents for owning a song is so cheap that people don't mind paying.

The subscrption I was thinking about is one where your device is free but you agree to buy...I dunno, 1 or two books a month for a year, two maybe.

Sounds like the old Columbia House subsciption, I know, but how it might work is a flat rate that you get billed for anything in a certain library.

Or maybe you can get whatever you want and the seller takes a loss on a premium title knowing they're still getting you for 12-24 more and all your future purchases.

But like Barry said, we'll wait and see.

Melissa Douthit said...

Diddo!

Hunter F. Goss said...

@Barry:
Love the way you make an argument. Great set of points.

Glad to know I’m not the only one who knows where the phrase ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid’ originated.

Blake Crouch said...

Prediction: Writers who have two weapons in their arsenal (speed and quality) will become rich. I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. This is not a market for the undiscovered writers who are sluggishly brilliant.

wannabuy said...

@LK Sherman:"I predict the average bestselling novel will get much shorter, and short stories and short novels will become an increasingly big chunk of the fiction market."

Probably. There is no longer a high cost to distribute a thin book and pricing can be adjusted to meet customer expectations.

But mostly by attracting back to reading ex-readers.

Exciting times. and I'm only a reader. ;)

Neil

Jude Hardin said...

Do NOT drink the kool-aid on E-publishing.

In fairness, I think she meant eselfpublishing. I don't think anyone can deny that ebooks are the future of publishing. Is self-publishing going to be the best route to success for everyone? I don't think so.

Embrack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Konrath said...

This is not a market for the undiscovered writers who are sluggishly brilliant.

Darwin applies.

Jude Hardin said...

Darwin applies.

Yeah, but we have to consider that many, many, many writers depend on "day" jobs to pay their bills. It's not really fair to talk about survival of the fittest when the playing field is nowhere near level for all participants.

Embrack said...

If the playing field isn't level, the participant has to flatten it. That's my program, anyway....

LH said...

"Used bookstores will do well in the beginning, due to all the people dumping their collections, but eventually won't be able to give books away."

Eventually, is may be the case. For the time being, I would like to see the small booksellers do very well. Used books, even at the Goodwill Stores, are more expenisve than I like to pay. I like to see used paper backs go for a dollar. In my are used paperbacks are like three or four dollars. I would like to see the small booksellers take advantage of the ebook phenomenon, especially considering that many books I like are out of print.

Eventually, yeah, used book stores will be hurt, but not for a long time, I think. I think the ebook phenomenon will be a boon to them.

Jude Hardin said...

If the playing field isn't level, the participant has to flatten it. That's my program, anyway....

Good luck explaining your program to your creditors.

Anonymous said...

It's not really fair to talk about survival of the fittest when the playing field is nowhere near level for all participants.

It will NEVER be any more level than it is at this moment. If you can't grasp this opportunity and make the most of it, no one is going to take you by the hand and make it any easier.

Embrack said...

That's what a miserable soul-crushing day job is for, to cover the creditors.

DVshooter said...

Jude

I think the playing field is more level than ever. An established writer with a readership who goes digital is, of course, going to sell better than me starting out. That's just life.

Did the first internet start-ups have a level playing fields? They were monkey's strapped to rockets working in basements and garages. E-commerce is a cornerstone of the global economy now.

I would say our playing field in this area is reduced to 3 factors; quality of work, presentation and marketing.

The fittest would be those who execute. The quality factor will always be subjective; the best written genre novel is going to get looked down on by literary types, SF fans consider SciFi inferior, as examples, but when looking for something new in your preferred category I agree that the quality work will stand out.

Just as people grew 'internet saavy', ie; everyone knows what spam is and not to reply to e-mails from the Nigerian Royalty, e-readers will recognize what indie writer took their work seriously and who's just yelling out their window.

Presentation and marketing are completely up to the writer. Look at Hocking. Her level of success is an anomoly, of course, but she's proof that anyone can do it from their couch with their laptop.

And I knew what the kool-aid saying meant too.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but we have to consider that many, many, many writers depend on "day" jobs to pay their bills.

Oh, not me. I started publishing directly out of the womb. And I was ALWAYS independently wealthy. So yes, my road was paved with gold.

Please.

Jude Hardin said...

It will NEVER be any more level than it is at this moment. If you can't grasp this opportunity and make the most of it, no one is going to take you by the hand and make it any easier.

I agree everyone who wants to work hard should make the most of their current opportunities. But to suggest that the writer who is in a position to write full time and the writer who works forty hours a week at another job...to suggest that those two writers are anywhere near level on any kind of playing field, is just plain silly.

Maybe you have really cool parents, Anon. Maybe they'll let me come and live with them, too!

How 'bout it?

Embrack said...

Darwin applies. Snatch the pebble from his hand and you make it. Don't you keep your day job. Zero fairness in this field.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you have really cool parents, Anon. Maybe they'll let me come and live with them, too!

Jude, you can have my old room. Mom makes a killer chicken fajita.

Jude Hardin said...

Jude, you can have my old room. Mom makes a killer chicken fajita.

Yes! I promise to pick up after myself, and to not play my drums after nine at night.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I promise to pick up after myself, and to not play my drums after nine at night.

Just so you know, Mom used to be a dude. She changed her name to Chaz Konrath. Consider yourself warned.

chris said...

Predictions:

1. Amazon will data mine every new kindle user/shopper via their new Silk browser.

2. Amazon will build a third party ad platform that will feed advertisers the relevant demographic data needed to make ad targeting successful on Amazon controlled devices.

3. Amazon will launch a FREE EBOOK platform that will be ad driven. Complements of the Silk browser data and the new ad dashboard.

4. Amazon will, like, make this shit work more gooder than awesome, man.

5. Some authors will be annoyed by perceived loss of revenue, whilst others will be thrilled by the prospect of revenue growth.

6. Some readers will be annoyed by ads, whilst others will be thrilled by the prospect of free content.

7. Jeff Bezos will be begin wearing glasses AND turtle neck shirts, thus becoming Steve Jobs and Bill Gates rolled into one;

and, finally, and somewhat more personally...

8. I will possibly finish writing at least one novel... straight after I finish watching the rugby world cup, 2012 Formula 1 Championship, vist the gym, start my raw food diet and stop fucking around on the interent long enough to concentrate on placing one word on a screen... followed by another.

9. I predict point 10 will follow directly.

10. The future, 'tis has been written.

Ian Martin said...

I predict that no psychiatric medication will be needed to control your apparent delusions of omniscience. I have made a study of your marketing strategy and have noted your dexterity with the self-fulfilling prophecy as a highly effective promotional tool. Predict something to your advantage, throw a whole lot of hype at it, then sit back and watch it happen. And you’re preaching to a large congregation of fervent Konrath acolytes who are more than happy to help spread the word. They all want to become successful self-published writers like you and are eager to carry the message far and wide. So anyone who tries to dismiss you as some kind of crackpot clairvoyant has missed the point altogether. You’re no charlatan who polishes his crystal ball, throws the bones, shuffles the tarot cards and gazes cross-eyed into a teacup before regurgitating yesterday’s news as if it was a revelation. Oh no. You’re a shrewd businessman on a mission, not only to get rich but to thumb your nose at the Establishment as you make your way to the bank. I like that.

Sean McCartney said...

Joe,

Which ebook got optioned?

Sean

Nancy Beck said...

I want to implement a soundtrack into an e-book. Movies have soundtracks, why not books? I am looking for someone to help me with this---and if you know of anyone, send them my way---

@Dawn Wilson - Bella Andre had a post up a few days where she (or as her pseudonym, Lucy Kevin) has done something like that with one of her ebooks.

Adam Pepper said...

Blake makes a great point about this market favoring the prolific. However, the power of word of mouth is stronger than ever with all the social media and net outlets. If a truly brilliant voice comes out of nowhere I'd still say his or her odds are better at finding an audience self publishing than playing the slush lotto, where the corporate suits just wont see the numbers add up on the P&L statement...if it even gets as far as the suits.

S. A. Engels said...

I think Joe's library numbers are closer to being correct (maybe not million$ of dollars, but...) and here's why:

A) HIS library strategy will succeed. He's a long-established writer who will be the "cream" they choose to place on the shelf. Even if books will be shared between podunk, one-horse municipal libraries.

B) Access. When you place a staid, traditional library formula, like the one for printed books, on the e-book market, then the same old rules will apply and the unknowns will not be able to be checked out at your local library. But access and shelf space, along with cost, has been the barrier. With e-pubs, that no longer applies.

The system will change. Maybe libraries will have the opportunity to buy a subscription from Amazon, opening up the ENTIRE collection to their library audience. What if the library doesn't have to choose the books that go on the shelf? They could pay a subscription fee based on the number of downloads.

Hopefully any subscription service will leave crumbs on the plate for the actual author of the books.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha I just stopped by to tell you about the email I just received from Amazon for Australian buyers. New Kindle at 109 Aus dollars! Of course you already know!

Matt J said...

Joe, just curious about some of the math and where other costs are in the mix (Greenhorn with a capital G here). From a high level view, if you sell 20,000 books/month at $2.99, that's 60,000 X 70% = $42,000. Now, I know there are some other expenses involved, depending on contracts (cover art, editing etc.), but how do you get as low as $.44 cents/book = $8,800. That doesn't really fare better than what writers received traditionally from legacy publishers for the same # of books (understanding, of course, that they sold the print versions for far more than the equivalent e-version sells for now, and that the old ways are gone, regardless). Just curious (in all humility and sincerity), what I'm missing. P.S. - Legacy example might be 20,000 x $9.00 per trade pb at the very lowest = 180,000 X 8% = $14,400, give or take.

Publisher Searcher said...

e-books save paper and money in the long run and are a great way of getting kids into reading and learning. i see it as a win win situation for eveyone involved.

Matt J said...

Regarding my earlier post, I think my confusion (and others might be confused as well) was regarding your mention of earning 44 cents for every $2.99 book. You were NOT referring to publishing on Kindle, you were referring to an author's profit margin with a traditional legacy publisher. Indeed, $41,000 is most awesome and much preferable. I think you have long passed the point where you can just make your mortgage with your earnings. More like 3 houses, completely paid for, and a collection of Indian motorcycles and vintage Harleys!

Joe Konrath said...

Yeah, but we have to consider that many, many, many writers depend on "day" jobs to pay their bills. It's not really fair to talk about survival of the fittest when the playing field is nowhere near level for all participants.

Every so often, Jude, you seem to forget whose blog you're on.

I'm the guy who wrote novels for 12 years, and got over 500 rejections, without a single sale. All while depending on a day job to pay my bills.

Of course Darwin applies. If you want to survive badly enough, you find a way to survive.

Joe Konrath said...

I have made a study of your marketing strategy and have noted your dexterity with the self-fulfilling prophecy as a highly effective promotional tool.

You need to study a bit more, Ian.

The purpose of this blog is to help writers, not to sell ebooks. John Locke's platform is for selling ebooks. ANGTP is to make writers aware of the opportunities out there.

I get a lot of traffic on this blog, but it is from writers, not fans. Readers don't care about any of the things I discuss here, and writers aren't the demographic for my books.

You’re a shrewd businessman on a mission, not only to get rich but to thumb your nose at the Establishment as you make your way to the bank.

I don't disagree with that. But this blog isn't a tool to help me do that. This blog is about sharing how I did it, so others can do it too.

Maybe if I were selling ebooks about how to sell ebooks, this blog would be a useful tool. But the two ebooks I've released for writers--The Newbie's Guide to Publishing Book and Be the Monkey--are both free on my website.

Joe Konrath said...

Which ebook got optioned?

SERIAL.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm the guy who wrote novels for 12 years, and got over 500 rejections, without a single sale. All while depending on a day job to pay my bills.

And your output during those twelve years wasn't nearly what it is now. That's all I'm saying. If speed is a big part of the success equation in today's market, then those who can't yet afford to write full time are at an obvious disadvantage.

Of course Darwin applies. If you want to survive badly enough, you find a way to survive.

But then there's that little thing called luck, which doesn't really fit in with Darwin's thesis.

Gary Ponzo said...

I completely understand where Janet Reid is coming from. She's a crew member on a sinking ship; the last thing her clients need to hear from her is, "The ship is sinking." Better to calm everyone's nerves and keep those manuscripts coming her way so she can sell the fourth or fifth book in the series. Should any of her writers become intrigued with the concept of going Indie, she's lost a source of revenue.

There's little chance she's so myopic that she really believes it's better to wait and see what happens. I'd be surprised if she isn't already making preparations of her own to reinvent herself.

We may all be on a sugar-buzz from too much Kool-Aid, but she's got a cup in her hand while glancing over her shoulder.

Joe Konrath said...

But then there's that little thing called luck, which doesn't really fit in with Darwin's thesis.

Tell that to the dinosaurs.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"Yeah, but we have to consider that many, many, many writers depend on "day" jobs to pay their bills. It's not really fair to talk about survival of the fittest when the playing field is nowhere near level for all participants."

I had to comment on this, Jude, because I so often disagree with you. This time I think you're absolutely correct. Writers who can spend more time writing have an advantage. Writers who are naturally faster at producing quality pages will have an advantage. Writers who are more talented will have an advantage. Writers who are natural storytellers will have an advantage. Writers who are independently wealthy will have an advantage.

None of this is fair. But it's the way things are.

Complaining that the world isn't fair doesn't get you very far. If you want success, you need to find a way.

Joe Konrath said...

Where did I ever say evolution was fair?

Jude Hardin said...

Complaining that the world isn't fair doesn't get you very far.

I wasn't complaining, just trying to make a point. Being prolific might have something to do with how fit you are as a writer (to stay with the Darwin analogy), but it might just as well depend on a plethora of other contingencies. Therefore, survival of the fittest doesn't work for me in that context.

If you want success, you need to find a way.

Absolutely. And one size does not fit all. My way might not be the same as yours, or Joe's, or James Patterson's. It doesn't mean that anyone's way is right or wrong, just different.

James said...

Joe, if I've got only one novel, do you recommend publishing it--or holding off until I have at least a few more?

This is what Locke did, for reasons you probably know, but--it seems odd to me. What's your opinion?

And: what's your suggested retail price if I've only got one (or maybe two or three) novels up?


-James

Anonymous said...

I wasn't complaining, just trying to make a point. Being prolific might have something to do with how fit you are as a writer (to stay with the Darwin analogy), but it might just as well depend on a plethora of other contingencies. Therefore, survival of the fittest doesn't work for me in that context.

Jude, sometimes I genuinely think you are looking for an excuse to not succeed. Have a full-time job? Get up earlier and stay up later.

It sounds to me like someone could give you a bag filled with a million dollars, and all you would do is complain that it's too hard to break hundred-dollar bills.

Michael said...

Janet was really quite polite and responsive with me, but I will note that she gave me personal rejections on two novels that have sold tens of thousands of copies as indie books. She wrote about a supernatural element in one of my thrillers:

You CANT have an angel as a character in a mystery series. It will plop it into religious, speculative or science fiction quick as a wink. You’ve got a “grounded” series here...all the characters are people we’d expect to find in a Utah town. Bring in angels and we’re getting into “belief”. You can have zombies and serial killers before you can have angels. Talking cats too. I’m not sure what this says about us, the reading public or mystery readers, but it’s true.

That book has sold over 50,000 ebooks and spent several weeks in the top 100. I received several unsolicited offers for either representation or publication when the book hit the big time.

I think highly of Janet as a person and an agent, but her opinion is not infallible. Nobody's is, for that matter. The industry is changing so quickly I think we can only guess at what the book-publishing world will look like a year or two from now. The only thing I'm certain of is that people will still be reading books and writers will still be writing them.

Paul Mannering said...

I predict that Amazon will stop insisting on paying writers by cheque if they live overseas (how many of those cheques actually get paid out??)

Everyone else uses Paypal, why can't Amazon??

David Gaughran said...

@James

I know you asked Joe, but I'll give you my 2 cents.

There is no reason to hold back publication of the book. With only one title out, the benefits derived from promotion will be limited, so you should focus your time and energy on writing more.

People like Bob Mayer suggest waiting until you have at least three out before you go full force on the promo.

But yeah, no reason not to publish it (if it is ready).

Joe Konrath said...

@James - What David said.

MotownMomMusings.com said...

I am just spellbound by the predictions and love how technology has come a long way since I've been selling ebooks since 2002. I feel like an old woman yet i'm only 40 and just knowing it just gets better after this is amazing!

The Genesis Code Book Series said...

It's great to see so much good information on the Guide to Publishing. This refreshes my memory why we chose CreateSpace to Self Publish our book The Genesis Code: God Has Spoken. The authors Abraham Lopian and Julie Snyder have been working on this book for about 10 years. I am Julie's brother who has taken on the role of Marketing Manager.

We thoroughly reviewed all of the publishing options prior to choosing CreateSpace and Amazon. Even though the process has not been flawless, it has provided us with the avenue we needed to publish and sell our book.

The most important thing I can tell your reader is this: IF SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!

I will not stop trying, I will not stop working on marketing, and I will not stop learning what others have done. I CAN DO IT TOO.

Thank you,

Robert Machol, COO
The Genesis Code Team

Thom said...

But here's what I wonder:

I wonder if the Big Houses won't eventually learn their lesson, and lower e-title prices to the sweet spot.

And I wonder if, once they do, the surge in success for Indie-Writers, --who now occupy that sweet spot because they were the first to claim it as their real estate-- well, I wonder if the BRAND NAME BIG HOUSE writers won't completely push them out.

In other words, are Indie Authors living the high life only because the Big Boys are so stupid they haven't figured it out? Is all of this a temporary opportunity, or does it have real staying power?