New gatekeepers

At BookExpo, the American Bookseller Association is hosting a pre-show “DIY Authors Conference and Marketplace”. A variety of vendors working in this space are presenting, accompanied on some panels by authors who have made self-publishing and direct sales work for them.

Two breakout sessions caught my ear this morning. Talking about his company’s author-friendly technology platform, Michael Ashley of FastPencil explained how they are working to take the guesswork out of “write once, read many”. They are also working to make direct sales work for even the one-title author.

In a parallel panel, author J.A. Konrath explained in some detail how he makes much more money selling e-books at lower price points ($2) than traditional publishers have said should be the case for digital content.

Konrath was blunt in his assessment. By pricing e-books at $14.99, “New York publishing” (his words) has put up a barrier that discourages sampling and limits serendipity.

Asked to offer advice to the authors assembled here, Konrath was equally blunt: “Don’t write s***”, adding “It’s not true that there are no more gatekeepers. There are new gatekeepers; they’re called readers.”

Even good books can get lost in the significant volume of new and repurposed titles made possible by new tools of production and distribution. For those that are found, the most influential reviewers are increasingly every-day readers, even at two bucks a book.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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