The annual state-of-the-industry predictions by Mark Coker, President of the e-book publisher Smashwords, are always interesting and almost guaranteed to trigger some controversy. The list of 14 predictions Coker offered in the Smashwords blog post 2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions - Price Drops to Impact Competitive Dynamics were no exception.
Some of the more audacious elements of Coker’s list of prognostications were:
- Big publishers will lower e-book prices to make their books more competitive.
- E-book sales growth will slow.
- E-book unit market share will grow.
- The dollar value of e-book sales will decrease.
- Price promotions will become less effective.
- All authors will become indie authors.
There’s plenty there to chew on. But for authors, Coker’s advice was simple: concentrate on writing high quality books and write more of them.
To be successful in the emerging publishing universe, Coker says:
One of the most important secrets to ebook publishing success is to write more books. As a writer, your writing is your unique creation. It’s your product. Authors who write great books (and produce more of them), are the authors who build sales and platform the fastest, because each new book represents an opportunity to please existing fans and hook new ones. Organize your time to spend more time writing and less time on everything else.
The focus of that time, says Coker, must always be on producing a high quality book:
It’s all about the writing – It’s back to basics time. In a world where readers face an unlimited quantity of high-quality low-cost works, the writers who achieve the most success will be those who take their readers to the most emotionally satisfying extremes. Books are pleasure-delivery devices. It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing a cookbook, romance novel, gardening how-to, memoir or political treatise. Your job as the indie author is to write that super-fabulous book.
Coker touches upon a corollary which is extremely important. Quality means professional quality production as well as good writing. He says, “That involves great writing and professional-quality editing.” I would add high quality interior and cover design as well. The majority of authors would be well served to concentrate on writing and employ the services of freelance editors and designers to turn their manuscripts into high quality books.