Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Mark Coker

Ten Publishing Predictions for 2017


2017 Book Industry Predictions I’ve been published by Lulu and FastPencil and Amazon and Wattpad… 

One of these days, I want to get around to being published by Smashwords

Perhaps (whenever I decide it’s “complete”), I’ll put my Story Bazaar there…

Nevertheless, if you put “Mark Coker(the Founder of Smashwords) into the search box at the upper right, you’ll find around 23 informative posts (including this one) about the BookWorld.

His article, 2017 Book Industry Predictions: Intrigue and Angst amid Boundless Opportunity, begins with these thoughts:

“If you could see into the future, what would you do to change it?

“Each year I polish off my imaginary crystal ball and attempt to divine how the boiling crosscurrents of technology, competitive intrigue, author aspirations, and reader tastes will shape the opportunities facing authors, publishers and retailers for the year ahead.

“As I caution each year, the prediction game is fraught with folly.  No one really knows what will happen tomorrow, though there are plenty of clues.

“Book publishing is in the grip of multiple long-term macro trends.  Like strong trade winds, these forces will fill the sails of those who can harness them while swamping those who don’t.

“2017 will mark a special milestone for the ebook industry.  It marks the ten year anniversary of the Kindle.  It’s also the ten year anniversary of Smashwords’ incorporation.  In early 2007, after three years of crafting our business plan, I hired our first programmer and began active development on the Smashwords platform which we launched in early 2008.”

He then has a fascinating section entitled, Ten Years of Indie Publishing in Review

Then follow his ten predictions (do take the link to the full article for Mark’s enlightening commentary on each of these predictions):

1.  Indie authors will continue to capture greater ebook market share in 2017 

2.  The glut [of books] will grow more pronounced

3.  Ebooks will face greater commoditization pressures in 2017

4.  The publishing industry will begin to recognize KDP Select as the cancer that it is

#5 is “missing” or it’s called Boiling Frogs

6.   Large ebook retailers pushed to the brink

7.  Kindle Unlimited will continue to harm single copy ebook sales in 2017

8.  Many indies will quit or scale back production

9.  Industry consolidation will hit self-publishing

10.   Amazon to face anti-trust scrutiny for unfair business practices

And, here are some of Mark’s closing remarks (directed straight at self-publishing writers — if you aren’t one, share this post with any you may know...):

“Okay, so I’ve painted a stark picture for 2017.  What are you going to do about it?

“First, remember that you are not powerless, despite the efforts of those who seek to beat you down and take your power.

“Recognize that the collective actions of authors and publishers like you will determine the course of this industry.  If you have strong feelings about a particular future you’d like to see realized, it’s incumbent upon you and everyone you know to take a stand, organize with fellow authors and put words to action.

“I realize some authors are unable take a public stand.  I’ve spoken with many of them – including many big name NY Times bestsellers – who’ve privately thanked me for speaking out for them, and they’ve encouraging me to continue speaking out.  Some of these authors have confided to me they’re unable to speak publicly for themselves.  They’re afraid of recrimination from Amazon; they’re afraid of recrimination from their friends; or they’re afraid of seeing their books carpet-bombed with one-star reviews from Amazon partisans.  If you must remain silent, I respect that.  But if you have the ability to share your concerns with your readers and author friends, whether publicly or privately, please do.  Do it for you.

“Despite the challenges writers and publishers face, I continue to believe as I’ve believed for the last decade that there’s never been a better time to be a writer.  There’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in publishing.”

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“Ten Trends Shaping the Future of #Publishing”


If you use the Top Tags widget (down a bit in the left-side bar) and click on Mark Coker ( you can also just click that last link :-), you’ll find 22 posts that are involved, in some way, with his ideas (this one will be there, too…).

Mark is the Founder of Smashwords and one of the most savvy folks on the planet when it comes to the potentials of Self-Publishing.

If you’ve never heard of Smashwords, this quote from the site should be informative:

“Smashwords offers a catalog of over 350,000 vetted, well-formatted ebooks from over 100,000 authors and publishers.”

Mark had an article in Publishers Weekly called 10 Self-Publishing Trends to Watch.

I recommend that any writers or publishers reading this post go read the full article (also, readers who want some insight into how books are evolving…); but, here are his main ideas with a few other snippets to entice you to take the link to all of Mark’s valuable information:

“The future of publishing is fraught with opportunity and peril.”

That’s Mark’s first sentence—here are his main ideas:

* The rise of e-books

* Publishing and distribution democratized

* E-books going global

* The rise of indie authorship

* Indie authors are taking market share

* The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing

* The glut of high-quality, low-cost e-books will worsen

* Amazon is devaluing books with Kindle Unlimited

* Kindle Unlimited is undermining single-copy sales

* Indie authors are writing the next chapter of their industry’s story

Now, just a few cool sentences:

“Although the rate of growth has slowed for e-books, the affordability and accessibility of digital will continue to erode print readership.”

“Much of the opportunity for authors in the years ahead will come from international markets.”

“Every week, indie e-books top retailer bestseller lists, and hit the USA Today and New York Times lists.”

“…your e-book will forever be discoverable…more books will chase fewer readers.”

“The power center of the publishing industry is shifting from publishers to writers.”

Don’t forget, this man is at the center of the e-book and self-publishing revolution…
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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“Looking for Truth in Time of Hype” ~ Are Writers Doomed?


Three things before I get fully underway with this post:

Looking for Truth in Time of Hype ~ Are Writers Doomed?

Image Courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski, SXC ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/mzacha-39017

This is a link to posts on this blog by or about Roz Morris

This is a link to posts on this blog by or about Mark Coker… 

This is a link to posts on this blog by or about Porter Anderson

All three of those people are involved in an article on WriterUnboxedLooking for Truth in Time of Hype.

Porter Anderson wrote the article—Roz Morris is frequently quoted—Mark Coker is also quoted

Porter Anderson Knows Media—Roz Morris Knows Writing—Mark Coker Knows Publishing

The article is primarily for writers struggling to make their way in the rapidly shifting BookWorld (with all the hype about “Branding”, “Platform”, Traditional vs Self-Publishing, “Promotion”, failing bookstores, etc., etc., etc.).

Here come the excerpts (but, if you’re a writer, you really need to read the full article…):

‘There’s Never Been a Better Time To Be A Writer’

Roz Morris’ comments on that quote:

“I’ve seen this mantra frequently over the past few years in blog posts, conference reports and news items. And I don’t disagree there’s been a lot to celebrate.”

“But from what I see right now, this time is also tougher for authors than ever.”

“Indie authors feel it in their book sales. Hands up, who is in a forum where the chief discussion is “what can I do about my dwindling sales?” “Anybody else had a dismal month?” “Should I drop my book’s price, put it on Kindle Unlimited, write something more popular, send out more emails, spend $$$ on a marketing course?”

“The traditionally published authors I know are faring little better, with shrinking advances, ill-supported launches – even the authors who have awards to prove their worth.”

A quote from Mark Coker:

“The market for ebooks has pretty much gone flat. And so we have a problem here…. There’s a glut of high-quality, low-cost books, more books than readers will ever possibly be able to read.”

Then, Porter Anderson comments on Mark’s quote with:

“That’s something, coming from a man who says his company is:

‘Publishing 360,000 books working with over a hundred thousand authors in small independent presses around the world.'”

A bit later Porter says:

“Publishing a book was never a contest. Presenting one path or another as a cause or a movement has never panned out as anything but…hype. The real goal, by whatever means you pursue it, is to get your work in front of the right audience and, we must hope, find some decent remuneration for all you’ve gone through to do that.”

And, if you do read the full article, you’ll know how important this comment from Porter is:

“You’re no traitor to the ideal of a publishing success if you speak candidly about the struggle. We all need to hear this much more than we need to see great phalanxes of grinning indies, sunglasses flashing as they pull down those “good livings” off their books.”

Then, Porter says this (which generated one Official Slew of Comments…):

“How frequently do you think authors feel they can share their experiences honestly? Do you feel the pressure to make it seem you’re doing better than you are? If you tend to sugarcoat your own experience for others, do you find that it’s helping your sales? —or your outlook?”

And, since I’ve been covering Reading, Writing, and Publishing on this blog for over 5 years, if you want more info on any aspect of those excerpts (or, what you might read in the full article), do put a few keywords in the search bar in the upper right or check out the Top Tags widget further down in the left side-bar—you more than likely will find more information :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

New Year’s Bonus — My Next Publisher’s Year-End Review, with a Look Ahead…


I’ve been published by Lulu and FastPencil and Amazon and Wattpad… Smashwords growth chart

One of my goals for 2016 is to publish with Smashwords

My email today had a special article from Mark CokerSmashwords Year in Review 2015 and Plans for 2016.

If you’re already published elsewhere and/or are considering the Indie route, you may want to study that article from Mark.

Here’s just a bit about Smashwords from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“‘Mark was very forward-thinking, and the way he set the company up appeals to independent publishers’, said Joel Friedlander, a book designer with Marin Bookworks in San Rafael and an expert in self-publishing. ‘There’s no cost, no frills, it’s a quick way to get your e-book into print, and you can do it in a day.’

“Coker, a former Silicon Valley publicist, started Smashwords in 2008 with the lofty goal of using technology to democratize publishing – allowing writers to appeal directly to readers without having to deal with gatekeepers such as agents and editors.

“In keeping with this mission, Smashwords applies no editorial screening. The only e-books Coker refuses to distribute are ones that contain plagiarism, illegal content or incitement to racism, homophobia or violence.”

And, to encourage you to read the full article from Mark, I’ll share just a few excerpts:

“Although we’ve been in business for almost eight years, we still feel like we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. We’re looking ten years ahead and laying the groundwork today to enable a better long term future for the constituencies we serve – authors, publishers, retailers, libraries, readers, and book culture.”

“A mere eight years ago, back in the dark ages of publishing and before the advent of Smashwords, publishing was a print-centric business where print accounted for 99.5% of book sales. A few large gatekeeper publishers in New York controlled which writers could become authors, which books could be read by readers, and which books reached bookstores. Bookstores, constrained by limited physical shelf space, could only stock a small fraction of available books.”

“Contrast the conventional print book with today’s self-published ebooks. Self-published ebooks are dynamic, living and immortal creatures, constantly evolving with new metadata, new cover images and new book content, as the author or publisher iterates to make their book more visible and more desirable to readers. Indie ebooks never go out of print. Ebook stores will stock them forever.”

Lots more about the publishing world and Indie authors in that article

Finally, a special word to any readers who just can’t quite admit to themselves that they want to write and publish:

Now Is The Time :-)
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Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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2016 Predictions for Book Publishing


I’ve featured Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, many times on this blog… 

And, today, I’ll give you some excerpts from an article by him (hoping I encourage you sufficiently, so you’ll take the link and read it all… {Although, readers who are sure they’ll never be writers may want to check out only what’s in this post, to get a feel for what writers concern themselves with…})—2016 Book Publishing Industry Predictions: Myriad Opportunities amid a Slow Growth Environment.

Mark begins his predictions in a very interesting way:

“I went overboard for 2016…I also asked friends on Facebook to suggest additional questions…So in addition to my first 10 below, I take a stab at 29 additional questions. Yikes.”

I especially like this:

“You’ll see I back each prediction with copious background on my thought process.  I invite you, my dear reader, to add your insights in the comments…”

Then he makes a prediction I can fully agree with:

“Here’s one thing I’m absolutely certain of:  Indie authors are the future of publishing.  The decisions indie authors make today will continue to reshape the future of publishing for better or worse.  You’re in control.  Now let’s have some fun.”

Now, Mark’s 10 Major Predictions ( I’ll only list the Headings—the really interesting stuff happens when you take the link up there to the full article :-) :

1.  Indie ebook authors will gain market share at expense of large publishers

2.  The overall market for ebooks will shrink in dollar terms, but unit volume will increase

3.  Kindle Unlimited will gut single-copy sales and drive greater ebook commoditization

4.  The ebook subscription model will experience a backlash in the indie author community (but will it matter?)

5.  Print will remain steady, though those sales are the sole domain for authors of traditional publishers

6.  Many full time indies will quit or scale back production in 2016

7.  Preorder usage will experience a dramatic increase

8.  Library ebook sales will increase for Smashwords authors

9.  More series writers will adopt perma-free series starters

10.  Wattpad will be acquired

And, here are the questions from Mark’s Facebook friends (Answers at the full article…):

Will Amazon do something more to monopolize the market?

Will Amazon’s brick and mortar stores add or detract from their success in general and/or affect book sales?

What genres/subgenres will get a boom [in 2016]?

Will more authors go hybrid, and will the ones that are currently hybrid stay that way or lean more toward one route or the other

What will happen in the world of indie short story sales?

Subscription services. Where are they going?

Will this author win the Nobel Prize this year? Or a million dollar contract? ‘Cause that would be awesome

World peace: Possibility or writing device?

It’s difficult to get noticed. Is there any hope for us small time authors to actually make a name for ourselves in this industry?

Any idea what’s going to happen in the romance market? KU appears to have gutted sales there

Will brick and mortar stores continue to decline, or will they fight back?

Will the other retailers grow in a way that that will help us counter Amazon/KU?

Will Barnes & Noble survive or go out of business in 2016?

Will B&N drop all ebooks and/or implode and go under?

Will Amazon relax the exclusivity requirements for Kindle Unlmited in 2016?

Will Google Play introduce a subscription model in 2016?

Will Google Play put their significant weight toward becoming a big force in eBooks, and counterbalance to Amazon?

Will Disney call me?

Will Kindle Worlds go international and multi-lingual?

“Digital refund policies… will [Amazon’s policies] be reworked to prevent [their liberal return policies from ] being used as an ebook library?”

What’s happening with China and India with ebooks over the coming years?

Will iBooks try to take on the Zon by releasing a multi-platform app?

How much will the standard agent/publisher cut shrink in the face of the superior economics of self publishing?

What percent of new authors will decline a standard agent/publishing deal and go it alone?

Will new promotion-oriented businesses emerge to help new authors, and what will these look like?

Will Smashwords introduce a POD offering in 2016?

Predict when indies will be allowed into brick and mortars

Is there a place where I can see all your past predictions altogether?

And, for writers (and readers who just might, one day. become writers…), I’ll excerpt Mark’s closing comments:

“Things change in this industry every day.  If you’re like me, you probably find it bewildering at times.  But take heart.  Some things never change.  The most important thing that will never change is that books are magical containers for delivering stories and knowledge.  You create magic.

“The industry will change – players will go out of business and others will rise and fall and rise again – but books will always remain.  Authors will always remain.  You are the captain of your personal adventure in publishing, and the course you chart is rife with opportunity.

“The global book publishing is a $100 billion market. Despite anemic growth, and even if the market shrinks, there’s still incredible opportunity for every new, future and veteran author alike to reach thousands if not millions of readers.  Best practices will separate those who reach a lot of readers from those who reach few.

“Luck plays a factor as well, but only for those who implement best practices first.  Best practices prepare you to capture lightning in a bottle when luck strikes.  Luck strikes all the time.  It’s word of mouth.  It’s a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook mention or a review that recommends your book.

“The books you have in you are important. Your books are important to the future of book culture and humanity.  Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from putting your book out into the world.”

New Year’s Bonus for those who got this far :-)

Mark’s Free Books:

The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success

Smashwords Book Marketing Guide

Smashwords Style Guide
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Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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