Friday, July 3, 2015

State of the Publishing Industry Update

Deb chatting about her books
I always look forward to hearing literary agent Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency give his State of the Industry speech at our annual AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) conference.

Steve is knowledgeable. Steve is wise. Steve is funny.

It's great to be informed from someone in the know about the publishing industry's newest news, whether it's good, bad, or ugly.

This year (last week) we heard a bit of all three. Here are the highlights:

  • Fiction e-books make up 50% of all book sales.
  • General e-books make up 30% of all book sales.
  • Novels are considered throw-aways after 1 read.
  • Nonfiction books are keeps on your shelf as bookmarks of your life. 
  • The publishing industry is like a labyrinth; the walls move every day ... meaning editorial departments and publishing house staff shift constantly. Some disappear completely. Personalities drive publishing companies.
  • Amazon holds the keys to publishing sales, even though their own effort at publishing failed dramatically. Amazon sells books only to get you in to their "store," collect your data and sell you other stuff (they make their most money off other goods, not books). For example, Amazon is the #1 diaper seller in the world; they also make huge shoe and electronics sales. 
  • Amazon print and digital (Kindle) sales make up half the business of many Christian publishers.
  • In bookstore retail news, the recent Family Christian Stores declaration of bankruptcy (26 stores in 34 states) lost some publishers up to one million dollars in February, 2015, although Family Christian was probably doing only about 5% of all Christian book sale business. This story is not over yet. As you know, Family Christian still has its doors open. 
  • Even if Family Christian goes under, it will not sink the industry. Christian book sales in general are strong, steady, and stable.
  • Newsletters are now considered the #1 marketing tool for authors because the author is in total control (unlike social media outlets such as Twitter or FaceBook who make and change their rules whenever they please). 

Our audience of people who look to the Christian Book industry to feed our families left encouraged and ready to press our noses back to the grindstones.

I did hear mutterings among my peers of professional speakers that speaking invitations from distant churches (requiring paid cross country travel and accommodations) had declined somewhat this year, but we could only speculate that the financial crunch of '08-09 had caused residual tightening of belts and budgets.

I'd love to hear your take on the health of publishing. What has been your recent experience?

1 comments: said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Deb. As Christian writers, one thing we know for sure -- God will have His way with our words, no matter what the publishing industry looks like. I love how He uses writers to help other writers. I sure appreciate yours!