So you probably read the bold statement of my goal and mission in the busness that is writing. I’m self publishing and I need to sell my books. So I’m going about it a very logical,very unlike me way. I’m having a strategy.
The first point in my strategy was to get my goal. It was bold. I want to hit the main best seller’s list. That is my objective and with a strategy – no matter how rubbish or amateur I want to see it if works.
This has nothing to do with the quality of writing at all. This is me looking at my potential book as a product. A business venture. And after hanging out on Scribophile I decided that was the way forward. I was no longer going to write and save my drafts in folders in my hard drive, or and shove my printed draft copies under bed or give them out for free. I WANT TO GET PAID. I WANT A RETURN. I WANT COMPENSATION FOR THE TIME, EFFORT, AND MONEY I PUT INTO EACH BOOK.
You may ask what money?
The writing craft books I bought and continue to buy to improve my craft; the subscription fee I pay to be a premium member of Scribophile (one can join for free however there is a limit on the amount of work one can post which makes writing a novel just a bit harder); the short courses I sign up to now and again.
Writing was no longer a hobby, or something I spent on instead buying the season’s latest pair of shoes or new dress. Spending on writing was now an investment instead of a hobby.
My goal was not longer to be just read, I wanted people to pay.
So the point of this post. I needed to analyse the market. Yes, look at the market and external drivers that might affect my goal. Why? I don’t know but it’s good to get a reality check from time to time.
So here I’m using a old school inappropriate business model to see if this self-publishing can be really profitable or I can hit the best seller’s list.
Note this is very incomplete and just at a glance. I don’t need any more since it give me a feel. This is also subject to opinion.
In Europe the tax has changed for outfits like Amazons so books can be a bit more expensive. This means the 20% tax charge (VAT) in UK may affect my books. Do I care? Well my readers might so I’ll need to consider that later on.
Amazon is having some trouble right now as to how it treats its staff, and the bad publicity may affect sales. A family member of mine has already said she’s not shopping there. This may mean others like Kobo, Apple ibooks/itunes may get part of Amazon’s market. We need to look carefully on how this impacts.
This depends on pricing, though books are cheap source of entertainment and mine will be reasonably price. This has an impact on people’s spending patterns. Not an issue.
Overall nothing drastic.
I’m using a version of Michael Porter’s Five Forces to see if this market will give me profit since people not only do I want my name on the best seller’s list I also want a fist full of dollar and more. After all that’s the main motivation to be on a best seller’s list.
New Entrants – Entry of Barriers to New Writer
Non existent. This means anyone like myself with access to a computer (even at the public library) can write a book (on google docs), up load and market. So simple, makes it super competitive.
Bargaining Power of Supplier
I don’t really have any suppliers. Okay I guess using my computer and all that but I’ve already said up above there is a local library and I’m not sure it features here.
Power of Customers
We’ve got two levels of customers.
The middle men – Distributors like Amazon.
Very powerful. In fact Amazon, Smashbooks, Kobo, Apple etc are all very powerful in that they can dictate what terms they want. There is the recent controversial of Amazon’s Pay per Page in Kindle. So basically paying writers per page read in kindle. So these middlemen are very very powerful. They even intimate the well established traditional publishers.
Essentially self-publishing writers are Amazon’s bitches. End of. What does this tell me? Basically Amazon and all these electronic distribution. will dictate how much profit I make, or how much I sell, also what I can sell. Yeah, I can price my book for what every price but I still get royalties. The higher the royalties I get the lower the price however these boys and girls need to get a cut and dictate that in a way.
These middlemen also have the power over how our books or products are represented to end customers or readers. The readers rely on Amazon’s search function, recommendations all and that stuff. Even if you aren’t on the the best seller’s list you still want your product to catch the customer’s eye.
The ordinary/end readers (customers)
They tend to rely on the middlemen – so Apple’s free book or recommended reads, so with Amazon etc. They don’t really have any power as individuals however as a collective they do. Hence we need to keep an eye on how this New York Times Amazon scandal might affect their sales. If people stop buying from Amazon, it loses it’s place as #1 then someone else will take dominance.
Threat of Substitutes.
I’m not really concerned about this. But I reckon TV, video games, Youtube social media and other sorts of entertainment can been seen as it. I guess if I’m looking at the self publishing industry, I could add traditionally published book.
Rivalry Among Competitors
Fierce. Very high. Its a dream. As I said above, barriers to enter the self-publishing industry are non existent so its fierce out there. Also we are competing against traditionally publishers who are far more experienced. Gosh romance is probably one of the worst genres to try and enter.
So many levels
They have the resources to advertise and market their authors. They do a lot of PR, take out adverts and use the press, and get plenty plenty of exposure.
Newish Traditional Publishers
These mostly exist on the internet. You know the ones, however some are formed by groups of formerly traditionally published writers/agents/editors and they can power too.
Experienced Self publishing veterans
These know all the tricks and have experience on their side.
What does all this tell me? The industry is very competitive and I’m unlikely to make high profits – unless I’m that rare breakthrough star. Highly unlikely in realistic terms. Basically I shouldn’t quit my day job. It also gives me a sense of what I can expect from the market. It’s going to be a challenge. However this is why I’m doing this scanning.
Gosh how depressing! However its good to know. It’s not going to stop me from writing or going for my goal however it plonks my feet firmly on the ground.
This wasn’t done in detail like the publishing companies do, or really business people. However I’m really up for this. I’ve got a hard drive full of uncompleted work, and a nearly finished novel.
I’m also doing this because I intend to self publish rather than go through an agent. If I did go via an agent or publishing company my energies would be focused on editing, revising my novel and looking for agents.