The impending demise of a stupid giant. The death of the Gatekeepers. And, why you don’t need an agent anymore.
The other day I popped in to a big Barnes & Noble anchor store inside a high traffic entertainment complex called the Spectrum down in Irvine, California. The rest of the world may be experiencing some kind of recession as a result of Obama’s disastrous economic policies as is now being admitted by all sides, but Southern California barely shows the effects. Unless you know where to look.
So, I just wanted to cruise the science fiction section, and of course see if any of my books were in stock, and look around and see if there was anything interesting to pick up.
This is just an update on an unfolding disaster I’ve talked about before regarding the science fiction section at Barnes and Noble.
It’s a disaster. Seriously.
The science fiction section consisted of three small shelves, badly, and fully, stocked with some standard big hitters for sure fire sales. But there wasn’t enough evidence in those three tiny half-aisles that spoke exciting and aggressive growth in the genre. It felt stale. It felt old. It felt Soviet. It felt defeated. Maybe that was because it was stuck on the second floor, back near the bathroom. You know where they keep all the best selllers and the sexiest books
Hint: No they don’t.
No, this particular placement for the once vaunted science fiction section, a staple they kept so many bookstores alive with the trade of the faithful binge-buying junkie science fiction readers cleaning them out, is now relegated to the smelly back of the store. It seemed like some sort of discount holdover section no bookseller wanted to be sent into to organize. There was no love. It was forsaken.
The Toy Section (Yes. Toys. In a book store? Tells you everything, doesn’t it?) Took up a quarter of the store and was a swollen and corpulent mess with un-purchased excess from the recent Christmas season. Whole tables, where once New Releases and Staff Pick Impulse buys laid in seductive waiting for junkie readers and unsuspecting passers by, was now filled with mangled and dirty toys that had not sold. And probably won’t.
So what does this tell us writers.
Well, first off it tells you the big publishing is dead. They’re dead and they don’t even know it.
So, it’s time for every writer to start wrapping their head around something, and it’s going to be very unpleasant no matter who you are. Even if you are a big time writer with good sales, you are most likely about to face an apocalypse of your own making. Once Barnes & Noble shutters, and I expect that to happen any day now, your publishers who have relied so heavily on the Barnes & Noble outlets, are about to cancel your contracts and not even publish your books. They may even just pay out your last contract and not publish any books because they’ve got no place to sell them. That’s bad. It’s happening already as I’ve come to hear. The truth is they’re not even selling them at Barnes & Noble. Actually what really happens is people just pick up your book, go into the cafe and pay for a cup of coffee to read your book. And they don’t even bother to re-shelve it. And they certainly don’t buy it.
So Big Pub which lost its war against Amazon because it refused to adapt to the market because it relied so heavily on one badly managed bookstore: is now dead.
And for all writers who don’t have publishing contracts, but have big publishing dreams, you really need to wrap your head around the fact that was probably the worst thing that could have happened to you: Getting published by the Big Five. I got pub’d by a Major a publisher and it was a disaster. It never matched the success I had as an indie. No, you need to start taking charge of your own future and marketing your own books on a perfectly acceptable platform that can generate you lots of dollars, especially once Barnes & Noble’s sinks. Amazon will be the only game in town. It’s probably time to master that.
On the subject of agents: forget them. They’re useless and they have no place in the paradigm that is the new market. Their holdovers from a day and age when we needed them to get through the gate keepers. The gatekeepers are dead. So you don’t need agents anymore. I parted ways with mine in November. A major author who I like, and respect, put it to me straight. He told me he didn’t have an agent and had never had an agent. That author is very successful and he even owns a mountain. And noI’m not kidding, he owns an actual mountain. He has a very successful science-fiction series. His name is Larry Correia. If Larry Correia doesn’t need an agent then neither do you.
So here’s the facts: it’s time to get started on mastering the business of marketing. Here’s a podcast I found that that’s pretty eye opening about how Indie Authors are currently marketing
Episode # 156 – Launch Your Author Platform with Jonny Andrews. It’s from the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast with Simon Whistler, one of the best insider baseball interviewers next to Hank Garner over at the Author Stories Podcast. This is all about getting your platform built. Whoever you are, big or small, trad or indie, you need to do this now. The market’s about to change: dramatically. Have a way to sell your books. Be able to do what you love to do, regardless of bad business decisions by third parties.