Monday, May 2, 2016

Some Stark Truths: The Romance Digital Pub Biz in Crisis by Karyn Gerrard @KarynGerrard #Opinion #publishing

I wrote a blog post in January about fastening your seatbelts for a bumpy 2016 ride, It is turning out to be kinda the truth. Check HERE

So far in digital romance, we've had Secret Cravings cease production, Samhain Publishing announcing it is slowly winding down and will cease production in the coming months, Booktrope is out of business May 31st. Also Amber Quill Press ceased production March 31st. A lot of digital publishers have quietly cut back the number of releases each week. Maybe there is more examples, I've lost track. Oh, and Harlequin is cutting retail for a couple of  romance print lines and doing away with their Blaze line in June 2017.

So, this isn't good no matter how you slice it. A lot of it is the market correcting itself. The business model is not sustainable over the long run unless you have a ton of capital. But even Booktrope couldn't make a go of it with one million dollars in start-up investments Read Geekwire article HERE

What does that leave? My so-called prediction? The larger publishers (like the big 5 and maybe Kensington and Sourcebooks for example) will continued to have a romance digital line as a loss-leader, a place to try out new talent (or as the Kensington owner described it, much like the farm system/minor leagues in the MLB) If you hit one out of the park, you just might get a bump up to their print lines. And I say might. I read on the Avon Romance site some time back that so far, only ONE author moved from digital (Avon Impulse) to print. Not great odds.

Sales are down. Way down. Yes, there are the exceptions, those 1-5% of romance authors who have the golden touch. But the rest? We have hard truths to face.

I really can't see how small and mid-size digital romance pubs can keep going at this pace.
A digital publisher charging 3.99 for 28,000 words is not viable in this market. And they need to charge that much because of editing and cover art costs and other expenses. Some years back, an e-book sold at this price. They don't any more. With the market shrinking, and the dearth of free, 99 cents, and cheap box sets readily available, why would someone pay 3.99 for less than 30,000 words? Especially on a new, unknown author?

So with less options, a declining market, and soft sales, what does that leave? Self-publishing. Prepare for a flood of an already over-crowded romance digital marketplace. Hundreds, maybe thousands of authors are getting their rights back for various reasons from various publishers. Some may walk away and be done with writing/publishing. But the remaining have few options but self-publishing. It's not easy. It's not cheap if you wish to put out a quality product.

As I said in my Jan post: Just tell yourself this over and over: It's not YOU. Don't take low sales as a rejection of your writing or your talent. I predict (and this entire piece is just my opinion, I could be dead wrong as I'm no expert) things will continue to be in flux for the coming year and maybe the next. Accept the disappointments and move forward. Enjoy writing and don't let the dire market predictions (or my depressing post) ruin the fun of creating a story.

And fasten your seatbelts.

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