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Why Literary Agents and Publishers Won’t Have A Job Soon

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I found this story from CNET a helpful explainer on the whole e-book pricing saga going on right now in the publishing industry.

Here’s the bad news: In a few more years (or maybe even sooner), authors large and small, new and old, are going to wake up and realize they don’t need anyone in the publishing industry anymore.

Popular authors with huge followings no longer need outside marketing/PR clout or help with distribution channels – they’re audience is already built in, and (literally) anyone can now write, upload and sell a book on his or her own. Print books are nearly dead - e-reader sales of products like Kindle and iPad are soaring along with e-book purchases. And why wouldn’t they? Imagine literally carrying hundreds of books in the palm of your hand, having the ability to highlight, bookmark, take notes in the margins, increase or decrease the font size, read in the dark … the advantages of e-readers go on and on.

So if you’re a big author, why not just write the book, publish it yourself (it is literally as easy as cutting and pasting text into Apple’s iBooks Author or importing a PDF file), upload it to the iBookstore and set your own price, keeping 100 percent of the author royalties for yourself? Or use CreateSpace or another free site to create and upload a Kindle-friendly version of your new book?

For new authors, there’s literally no cost (other than time) for you to engage with people on social media, build a following, write a book, copy and paste it into iBooks Author on a Macintosh and then sell it for whatever price you want.

You build your audience. You write the book. You upload the book. You sell the book. You keep all the profits.

The entry barrier to becoming a published author has never been easier. In fact, it can’t get any easier.

That’s great news – unless your still working as a Literary Agent or Publisher.

What every self-published author needs to know in 2011

  • I love this post (shown above) from Seth Godin at his new Domino Project.
  • I love this advice he offers in another post: “Traditional media is all about interrupting strangers. Modern media (including modern bookselling) is focused on building a tribe, earning permission and then creating products and services for that audience.”
  • I’ve been doing self-publishing in one form or another since 2004 or so, and I’m re-engergized, because the game has changed – again. In the mid-2000s it was the advent of self-publishing Web sites like CreateSpace and Lulu. In 2011, it’s the fact that we can create and upload an entire book – at no cost – and then sell it for pure profit via e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad, and other devices. (John Locke has mastered this formula!)
  • I keep hearing smart guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin and Kindle sales superstar Locke saying the same thing over and over again – Find your audience, cultivate a meaningful, trusting relationship with it online and then, when you’re ready to sell your idea/book/product, they’ll respond. And not only will they respond, but if your idea/book/product is really good, they’ll tell all their friends! Your friends will be your sales force.
  • These are amazing times for authors. And I wouldn’t want to be a big publishing house right now. Because their dominance in the book marketplace is waning by the day. I don’t think they’ll ever disappear entirely, but their days as power players are seriously numbered.
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