Niche writers to limited markets
Here we begin to see the modern reality of publishing. The change is of the same type as we saw with the conversion in television from three, then four, gargantuan mass-market networks to the current reality of thousands of channels on cable and satellite. The same thing has happened in magazines where there are now over 10,000 magazines in the US alone. There are now millions of active blogs. We are currently publishing over a million different book titles per year. Obviously things have changed a little.
In a typical niche, the overhead of traditional publishing is not good stewardship
Many of the new books are developed for very small niches when dealing with a global scale of things. Let’s take my new book, Writing In InDesign Second Edition, which is about writing and creating books within InDesign. Statistics are hard to find. In the USA, the labor department says there are nearly 300,000 graphic designers but only 26,000 desktop publishers. They say that there are a little over 150,000 authors which are about 70% self-employed.
Smashwords works with 18,000 writers. Lulu claims to have worked with over a million creators. But there are no stats on the number of InDesign users, the number of authors using InDesign, or anything like that. When I start checking keyword searches on Google in this area, I am left with the notion that there may be a few thousand people doing this. That’s my niche.
How does the publishing world handle a niche this small? It doesn’t.
So, what is a writer to do? You do not have many options unless you have enough money to pay for all the services of a traditional publisher. Here are some rough and probably minimal cost figures if you go traditional (several of you think the costs might be less than this, but that doesn’t change the point):
- Copyeditor: $1000
- Book formatter: $1000
- Proofer: $500
- ISBN #: $125 per book unless you buy a large block
- Cover designer: $500
- Printer: $2000 or much more
- Press release: $500
- Book review: $1000
- Marketing package: $2,000 to $10,000
- Books to give away: $1000
- Website: $2000 plus $50 to $100 a month for ISP, Web access, site maintenance, et al
So, what do you do if you do not have ten to fifteen thousand dollars with which to gamble? I’ve been challenged on Joel’s book designer blog with figures closer more like $2,000–$4,000. But that’s still a lot of money. I’m expecting to sell 500-1,000 copies with a gross profit of well under $5,000. I’d be a fool to spend it all up front.