Monday, January 28, 2013

Liz's Lair: Some Staggering Numbers About Publishing

This weekend I attended a Plotting Princess Retreat. A what?? I'm part of a group of smart women authors (some pubbed, some on their way) and we get together 3-4 times a year to help each other plot books and to learn new technical stuff. There are a few in the group who are so far ahead of the rest of us when it comes to techy stuff, and they willingly share their knowledge. 

This retreat was different in a lot of ways. First off, in less than a year, several of the women have either self pubbed or been epubbed and  several more are on the fence about it. So for the first time since we've been meeting, we didn't do any plotting at all--mainly because no one needed help -- but also because with the publishing world changing right before our eyes on a daily basis, we realize that we have to keep up with all the new marketing strategies. It's sink or swim, and we chose to swim. 

We spent the entire retreat learning how to use the free social media out there to our best advantage as well as how to tap into the  vast opportunities to promote ourselves while chatting with  cyber strangers. We learned a whole lot of other things, too, but if I told you about all of them, I'd have to kill  you!!

It did make me think about a blog I read just this week, written by Kathleen Schmidt. In it she gives her opinion of the overall state of the publishing world. You can read it in its entirety here.

It's really an informative blog in a lot of ways, but what got me were the statistics about the discoverability of books. The statistics are from Bowker and represent the book consumers from January through September 2012. 

•  60 percent of book buyers are female.
•  28 percent of book buyers are age fifty-five and above.
•  One in five people buy books on pure impulse.
•  93 percent of book buyers have a Facebook account.
•  50 percent of book buyers own a Kindle.
•  A quarter of all books published are bought from Amazon.
•  Book buyers discover print books via in-store book displays.
•  Book buyers discover digital books via recommendations from other people.
•  Consumers will purchase a physical book because of its subject and purchase an e-book because of its author.
•  35 percent of all e-books purchased are in the romance category.

My conclusions:  Social networking is more important now that ever before. We talked about street teams at our meeting. For those who don't know--street teams are likened to fan clubs where the members play an important role in getting out the news about new releases, sales, etc. In other words--sharing on Facebook and retweeting any news from a writer. I think this is a great idea. Of course, if you're retweeting all kinds of promo stuff, you run the risk of people unconnecting with you if all  you ever do is hawk books. There has to be a balance.

I have a feeling 2013 is going to bring a lot of brand new changes in the publishing industry. Are you ready for the challenge? I'm talking instant books, e-book libraries, etc.

I'd like to know what you think about all this. Are you excited for the changes, scared about them, or somewhere in between?


Pamela Stone said...

Hi Liz,

As one of the fellow Plotting Princesses, I have to echo your sentiment and add that I feel humbled to be among such a talented group of writers. Social media becomes more and more important every day. However, in a way it seems like we are at the beginning. What will it be like in say another five years? Great blog.

Liz Lipperman said...

Pam, I'm convinced there will be more dramatic changes before the end of the year. We have to be able to change with it. I think that is why the NY publishers are scrambling right now to play catch up.

I love being a PP girl.

Kathy Ivan said...

I totally agree with everything you said and those statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. The astonishing number is how many people self-published their books just since November 2012.

I'm one of those not very technically savvy people but I'm learning. It's a sink of swim proposition. I agree with Pam, too, what is the social network and publishing going to be like in just one year, let alone 5 years. It staggers the mind.

It was lovely getting together and seeing all my fellow Plotting Princesses Saturday. :-)

Phyllis said...

Hey Liz!

I agree there are so many changes in publishing and in many respects we are the new pioneers...wagons Ho!

I am one of those who gave up on the big publishing houses a long while back. I've spent this last year watching and learning. I hope to get my books indie pubbed this year.

Social media will be the key. Thanks for passing along those statistics!

Liz Lipperman said...

Kathy, putting our heads together to come up with a solution or at least getting on the right path for one is the bet thing we can do. I am proud that the PP are so proactive in this.

With the news today that B & N will be closing stores, digital publishing can only get bigger and bigger.

Liz Lipperman said...

Phyllis, there are a lot of people in the same boat as you as far as giving up on NY. I don't know what will happen, but I believe you will find agents having to reinvent their jobs if they want to make a living. The same goes for the editors. It's a scary world right now--but it's also a little exciting to know that our books are not at the mercy of publishers but in our own hands and those of our readers.

Sylvia said...

I love being with the Plotting Princesses and walk away amazed at this group of women. Yes, publishing is changing before our very eyes. Five years ago I would never have agreed to self-pub and now I think I've almost waited too late. I feel like I'm chasing after a fast moving train. Yes, social media is important, but you have to find a balance. I unfriended an author the other day because all she did was promote her novel. Eight times in one day and frankly, I don't have time for that. Tell me you have a new book out and what it's about, but don't beat me over the head with it.