This morning, I opened my email to discover an indie publisher is closing their doors. My experience with this publisher has primarily been through an email list, but I have still come to know them and am sad to see them go. As I don’t know if this publisher has announced to their authors yet that they are closing, I’m not going to say which one it is. Their authors will know, and the rest of the world, soon enough.
Whenever a publisher folds, I’m saddened for the publisher and the authors. Not to be surprised, from the contact I have had with the owner, they’re closing to prevent the inevitable bankruptcy. Not only are they doing this for themselves, but also the authors. Bankruptcy court is not a friend of authors. Those who have been through it will tell you that.
But why was bankruptcy inevitable? To be quite honest, sales for many publishers have been down significantly in the past year. There are a number of contributing factors, including a glut of free books, the new subscription services, piracy, and returns. All of these most likely contributed to their closing.
If we want to survive, we have to find new ways to get noticed and to draw readers, paying readers. So, I am going to tell you, friends, if you love to read, here are a few things you can do to support your favorite authors and support their publishers.
- Buy a book. I am ever puzzled at people who think $5.99 is too much for a full-length novel (whether it is electronic or trade paperback) yet have no problems paying $3.50 for a cup of coffee every day. $5.99 is not really that much when you consider that it’s paying an author, an editor, a cover artist, a line editor, a formatter, a proofreader, and the publisher’s costs just to operate. Wait! How can $5.99 pay all of them? Well, if there is only one sale, it doesn’t really, but when you have multiple sales of that book, it does. The author gets their royalties, and the publisher gets their cut and pays for the rest. Every book you buy from that publisher allows them to employ high quality people, pay their bills, and pay their authors so that they can continue to write, oh, and put food on the table and live.
- Leave a review. Did you like that book? Leave a review. Why? It brings the book’s ranking up higher.
- Tell your friends about the book you just read. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing. You like that author? Make sure they can continue to write.
- Buy from indie publishers, too. There are some really fabulous indie publishers, Wild Child and Freya’s Bower included. Some of the best books I’ve read lately are from indies. Okay, most of them, but I may be biased. 😉
- Don’t pirate. Many people think that their one downloaded pirated copy doesn’t make a difference. It does. If you never intended on buying the book in the first place, then don’t download it.
- Educate your children about not pirating. So many kids think it’s okay to just take something they want without paying for it. If we keep doing this, we are going to lose our literature. Look what’s happened to the music industry. Let’s keep our community vital.
- Don’t return a book after reading it. Seriously, can you return a meal after you’ve eaten it? There are a lot of people who think this is okay. Instead, just don’t buy a book by that author again. Or, better yet, read an excerpt before you decide to buy. Many publishers have seen an increase in the number of returns, especially on short books. When you return something you’ve read, you’ve just pirated. It’s no different.
Many say they can’t afford to buy books right now. Okay, I understand that, then use your public library. There are many indie publishing houses whose books are available to libraries through Overdrive. Don’t see the title you want. Ask your librarian if they can get it for you. There’s a good chance they can.
Remember, if you love to read, be sure you support your favorite authors and publishers by purchasing books. It’s the only way we’ll be able to stay in business.
It’s not unusual for people to find themselves beset with financial struggles and a myraid of other miniscule problems that, together, add up to ‘life’s burdens.’ It’s also rather common for people to believe in their particular version of ‘what goes around comes around,’ or ‘you reap what you sow,’ or perhaps ‘instant karma’s gonna get you.’ It might change the urge to ‘pirate’ books if people got the connection between their financial woes and the dollars that disappear from their own purses without permission. Some folks look at pirating a book like it’s a total ‘score!’ But if it’s a fact, instead of just a notion, that karma can be a bitch, they should try paying for things even though piracy has become some sort of “It’s normal, everyone does it.”
I agree, Stephen. Sometimes, even 99 cents is too much for something that isn’t a necessity. That’s why I suggest the library. It’s free, and you can request the purchase of books by title/author. It may not happen, but you can ask. And I know a lot of indie publishers have signed up with Overdrive. Get your fix there rather than pirate.
so sad to lose another. thank you for this post. and now I’m hoping it’s not one of my publishers….
It is sad, Nora, and I hope it isn’t one of yours. I hope one day people will realize the importance of art–all art–and be willing to support it.