Crayne Business Model for Book Writers
Crayne Business Model for Book Writers
by Victory Crayne
Copyright 2010, 2016
As many of you know, the book publishing industry is undergoing tumultuous change. The old paradigm of first trying to sell to NY publishers causes a great deal of frustration for many authors.
With ebooks selling for less than US$10 and big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco demanding steep discounts so they can sell bestsellers at US$17, publishers are feeling the squeeze. And with so many writers competing for the attention of agents and publishers, there is relentless pressure on writers to accept lower advances and lower royalty ratesóif they can get a commercial publisher interested at all.
We should accept the fact that the world of publishing is becoming less pricey. From the viewpoint of consumers, that's a very good thing. But for providers of information and entertainment, the old business model has become harder to sell in and harder to make a living in. But rather than try to resist or overcome the changes, we should accept them and embrace them.
After discussing the issues with many in the industry, I've come up with a business model that I think will be better for writers of books.
New business model
The Crayne Business Model for Book Writers will work for both printed books and ebooks. We need a business model wherein:
- Writers create their manuscripts.
There will always be a demand for the information and entertainment that only writers can provide.
- Writers get their manuscripts professionally edited.
Most books need to be rewritten and polished before they are marketable. Writers must get their manuscripts professionally edited if they hope to compete with the millions of other writers out there. The good news is that the vast majority of manuscripts are not well written. Professional editors find that less than two percent of their clients write at a publishable level. Many agents say the same thing.
- Writers own their own ISBNs.
Every ISBN contains information on who is the publisher. If that is you, fine. If it's Amazon or a traditional publisher, you will find some difficulty moving that book to a different publisher. You can buy a lot of ISBNs via www.bowker.com. I buy ten at a time for a price break.
- Writers publish via an honest "pay to publish" firm.
An honest "pay to publish" firm will package the book (cover art, ISBN, interior design, etc.), then print and fulfill orders. Such firms focus on helping writers create low cost and appealing products to aid writers in marketing their books. Those honest firms also help writers market their books to the public, rather than focus on selling printed books to the writers. One such publisher is INDI Publishing Group at http://www.writersreaders.com/indi-publishing-group/. Another is good ol' Amazon. As professional editing becomes more popular with writers (and the quality of manuscripts increases), other honest, pay to publish firms will enter this market.
You can publish an ebook AND a pbook (printed book). Amazon does only ebooks and those in its own format I prefer the non-DRM format of MOBI. DRM means Digital Rights Management and it sounds good on the surface. But what it really means is copy-protection. It is difficult to copy an ebook to a different device. I prefer to publish my pbooks via CreateSpace. Those can be automtically listed on the Amazon page.
But outside-the-USA retailers may charge more for your pbook. In that case, I suggest you NOT select "Expanded Distribution" (on the CreateSpace website) and publish also via Ingram Spark. They will publish your pbook for less than CreateSpace if the retailer is outside-the-USA.
- Writers develop their own professional website.
Writers need professional websites to provide their own personal showcase for their books. The website must be professionally developed and maintained to convey the image of a professional author and product. The fifteen year old nephew cannot prepare a website to successfully compete in today's competitive marketplace.
- Writers get reviews of their books.
This brings up the idea of "paid" reviewers. I suggest writers beware of paid reviewers. Some are honest and some are very dishonest.
Most writers of self-published or pay to publish books have a very hard time getting anyone to even read their books. If you write boring books, or those which have too many grammatical errors, you can expect a reluctance to read your book. But it you routinely get 4 or 5-star ratings, it will be easier.
- Writers market their books on their own.
Book marketing often entails cover art, reviews, blogs, speaking engagements, radio interviews, web interviews, content articles submitted to websites, free samples of chapters, hiring publicists, and much, much more. The marketing side of the publishing industry is also undergoing rapid change.
- Writers refocus if their books sell very well.
Regardless of format (print, ebook, etc.), if the book sells well, the writer should contact an agent for professional advice on legalities of contracts, auctioning of rights, and market options such as foreign markets, movie rights, etc. At this point, the writers will have some income from sales and may want to change their marketing strategy to take advantage of greater opportunities.
What this means for different players in the publishing industry
For writers, this may mean abandoning their efforts to sell print rights to major publishers and depending on their meager royalties to make an income. Instead, successful writers can go directly to the public to sell their books at modest prices. Writers will get higher profits per book, will sell fewer books, but can continue to sell their books for many years. Continued sales means writers can depend more on building professional reviews and "word of mouth" advertising, rather than depending on promoting their books during the three to six weeks that major bookstores allow before pulling new books off their shelves.
Those books that sell well will garner more marketplace attention. This will stimulate new markets for firms that collect and publish successful sales figures on a website, broken down by category and author name, with links to professional reviews.
For agents, this means getting more queries from writers with proven book sales. They could market their services to successful authors to help them take advantage of greater opportunities. Agents would still have the option of screening floods of queries, sample chapters, and manuscripts and marketing to major publishers.
Some agents may become brokers or book shepherds, who assist writers in selecting the best publishing option, best marketing strategy, and best way to stand out from the crowd. Similar to the way many travel agents were affected by online booking, literary agents may seek niches offering specialized packages. They will still experience the thrill of nurturing wonderful books into the publishing world and the reading public.
For publishers, this means developing websites to sell their books directly to the public (especially important for ebooks). They could offer discounts to brick and mortar bookstores to have books available for same-day purchase from buyers.
For major publishers, this still leaves the option of buying print rights and e-rights from writers as they do now. Since books with established successful sales mean less risk for publishers than unproven manuscripts, publishers could compete for rights for those books, resulting in better royalties for authors as well as lower costs for publishers.
For bookstores, this means primarily stocking books that get good reviews and have good sales figures already on record, which reduces store costs and risks. For books they donít have in stock, bookstores can become mini-printers, providing fees back to the publishers. As with books on the shelves, customers can order books via the bookstore's website, pay, and pick up their purchases the same day.
For book buyers, this means less pricey books, access to more controversial books that big publishers may not want to touch, and a way to find out which self-published or pay to publish books are worth buying. In the current business model run by big publishers, only a handful of people make the decisions on which books the buying public can see in the stores. This business model provides more freedom of choice for book buyers.
The Crayne Business Model for Book Writers would mean printing far fewer books, since they would be printed to fill orders. The current industry practice is to print in large batches and ship before being sold, with many books being returned unsold. This new model would reduce the costs of printed books and the consumption of limited natural resources. Of course, a great advantage of ebooks is they donít require any printing at all.
Most writers create four or more manuscripts before their writing skills reach marketable levels. The Crayne Business Model for Book Writers provides millions of writers a means to test their books in the marketplace at low cost. Simultaneously, professional editors and reviewers provide excellent means for developing writers to gain valuable feedback for improving their work before they invest thousands of dollars in their books.
Book buyers will have more options to find quality books at affordable prices.