Mark Terry

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Traditional Publishing Is Dead

April 19, 2012
Well, okay. It's sick. For me, personally, as a writer, traditional fiction publishing is dead.

Will it rise up like Lazarus in the future? Could happen. I'll cross that particular crosswalk if and when the need arises.

What brings me to lurch out of my blogging lethargy to make this claim?

I got an email from my former agent yesterday indicating that she had received my most recent royalty statement and check from my former publisher. That would be for both THE FALLEN and THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS. I haven't seen either, but I believe it covers the time period from about June 2011 to December 31, 2011. Or not. It doesn't matter for the discussion at hand. What was pertinent to me was that the check she received was in the amount of $249.99. She'll take her 15% of this magnificent sum of money and send me the remaining $212.49, give or take. Then I'll automatically take 24% out for the federal government and 4% out for the state government. That'll give me about $153 give or take, to play around with, pay bills, or sob over.

In comparison, in March I received a royalty check (direct deposit, actually) from Amazon (alone) for $1013. That reflects, I believe, either the month of January's ebook sales or December's. I'd have to think that through. I think it's January.

Please note. I ain't getting rich here. I read posts by Joe Konrath, Blake Crouch, Lee Goldberg and many others about the thousands and thousands of dollars they're making epublishing and I want to pound my head on my desk. But such is life. I am not making my living writing fiction. I am, however, having a hell of a lot more fun with a lot fewer headaches. And I'm paying my Visa bill fairly regularly with the royalty money. Once I get that driven down, maybe I'll have even more fun.

But there are two factors here. One, having a bunch of ebooks for sale can be reasonably cumulative, whereas having two hardcovers for sale, not so much. So, the more books you have for sale, well, the more money you make. Two, my royalties on my ebooks are actually higher both in terms of percentage (about 8% on hardcovers for my legacy publishers and 70% on ebooks myself) and in hard dollar numbers (calculating hardcover royalties after discounts, etc., is a nightmare, but let's be optimistic and say 8% on $25, which is $2. My Kindle royalties on a $2.99 ebook comes to $2.04 per copy downloaded).

So, anyway...

The cover art is for the next Derek Stillwater novel, THE SINS OF THE FATHER. I'm tweaking the final draft right now, will get it off to my layout guru when I'm done and I imagine it'll go live by the beginning of June.

And for anyone else interested in a fairly interesting blog post about the publishing industry today, I suggest you check out Kristine Kathryn Rusch's post today. 


Anonymous R. E. Hunter said...

Thanks, one more voice in the chorus saying how much better indie publishing is.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Mike Faricy Author said...

Mark, Exactly... 8% vs 70% even a numbskull like me can ultimately figure it out, sort of. Oh, then the lack of all the hassle not to mention getting your work published el-quicko instead of 18 months from now. It's sort of like breaking up with a lover you've had some great occasional moments with, but deep down you know this is just not a good relationship for you.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Leah Griffith said...

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one thinking as you do. Well said Mark.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Top100EbookRanking said...

You might get a kick out of this "list."

133 authors (and growing) who have sold more than 50,000 self-published ebooks. I hope you will join them one day soon.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Interesting list, Top100E. Just FIY, David Morrell needs an asterisk by his name. :)

7:23 AM  
Blogger Joe Harwell, Author/Publisher said...

When I decided to self publish my first novel in the spring of 2009, it wasn't the most popular decision with family, friends and especially other authors. What can I say? Today, it seems everyone I know is self publishing for the reasons you point out. Thanks for the post.

Joe Harwell

10:54 AM  
Blogger David LeRoy said...

When I started working on my Novel, it still seemed like a good idea to play the traditional world first. Now, I am getting ready for a copyedit, and the entire thing has flipped. What is also interesting is that my friends attitudes have flipped as well. They no longer see me as a self published author if I am in the Kindle store or on Amazon. To them, that is a published author. I have had to get my own cover art, and editors, and shell out a few bucks here and there, but this investment seems wise in the long run. I still do know a few people who are dead set against any self publishing at all, but I think they have other issues as well.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

You'll probably find that some people have issues no matter what you do. The first time I got published and paid for it, it was a nonfiction essay in a regional magazine, TRAVERSE. They were late paying the magnanimous sum of $50 and one of my friends at the time said, "It doesn't count if you don't get paid for it." And I snapped at her and said, "It counted the minute I wrote it."

10:05 AM  
Blogger Jon VanZile said...

Interesting, Mark ... your experience definitely lines up with what I've been reading about with non-Patterson writers. It just makes so much more sense to skip the middleman.

Now if you could only get MG readers to buy ebooks :) I'm a week away from finishing the book I've been working on for two years and about to start shopping it. Although I firmly believe in self-publishing, it just doesn't work for me. I write MG and lower YA and today, as ever, kids aren't reading ebooks.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Tami Parrington said...

Indy publishing has come such a long way in just the 10 years I've been involved with it. Also having dealt with mainstream publishing (years and years ago), I can definitely say that while there were plenty of growing pains along the way, indy is the way to go!

2:49 PM  

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