Sunday Essay - Another publisher closes it's doors.

Another week and another publisher closing down.

This time Loose Id. 

I’ve never worked with them but they were the publishers for a lot of my friends who will now have to find new homes for their work. Loose Id have been around for a very long time, and were one of the stalwarts of online publishing.

On Facebook I’ve seen an incredible amount of debate as to why the publisher closed. Did they not move with the times? Were their prices too high? Did Amazon’s ferocious grip on selling books drive them out? Did they fall down on marketing? Were they too big/old? We they destroyed by KU? Was it because of self publishing?

I can’t speak for what happened at Loose Id, but I should imagine it was a combination of all of those things.

The market has changed so much in the seven years I’ve been writing. It used to be that you sent a manuscript to a publisher; they edited it, gave you a cover, did a bit of marketing, and you were seen because so many people visited that publisher site.

Now the 'majority' of people go to Amazon see the top 100 and buy from there. (note, majority doesn't include everyone; some people still look at Publisher lists and buy direct).

It used to be that a couple of sexy images with your book in them would constitute marketing, and be enough for people to see your book and to buy it. No need to create discussion groups, or form relationships with people to boost you. Used to be that putting your cover in a magazine, or highlight you at a convention was enough to get a buzz about your books. Then published GLBTQ books went from several hundred, to thousands, to more.

Marketing is all about the author, it is the author’s responsibility to market themselves harder than a publisher would. A publisher cannot market you as much as you can yourself.


I recall my first conversations with Totally Bound (Entwined/Pride/Whatever). They promised the earth, and it all sounded so good. A microsite for my books, where they would invest time in working on my brand. Solidly edited books that would have no faults. Cover Art that would wow people. Mentions in magazines. Interviews. The ability to put my books up on the Zon as pre-orders. You name it and I was promised it, and I must say though, that the cover art they supplied me with was always gorgeous. For me, it was the only thing they did right.

And so I went to them with a couple of my old Silver books and a brand new series, the Ellery Mountain books, oh and End Street with Amber of course.

And Crooked Tree Ranch (edited a week or so before release), with no marketing back up at all apart from a lovely cover, no microsite, no interviews, no push, nothing. Easy money for them, a disappointment from me and the beginning of the end for my time with them. They lost me, my Montana series, and any future books.

Think about it, they could have had my new Wyoming series, my Christmas books, my standalones, hell, me and VL might have even put our Hockey books there.

But what could they do for me that I couldn’t do for myself?

I’m LUCKY, I know this, and I am not saying for one minute everyone who wants to write gives up their job and locks themselves in a room to write. I am a full time writer, with the time to work on marketing, and writing more books, and spending time with readers.

Others have full time jobs, and writing is extra, they don’t want the hassle or indeed the cost of editing, or cover art, or the expenses of marketing, and a publisher is their best route.

Problem is, so many of us have control over what we do and end up self publishing, and Publishers lose us. Is that the fault of the self publishers? Is it Amazon’s fault? Or did the publishers not move with the times?

Let's just look at price.

My new Christmas book is a dollar less than I would normally charge, simply because it’s kind of a Christmas gift for readers. It’s £2.99 (and for up to 50k I normally charge 3.99). You won't see a publisher putting books out at an aggressive price, because they can’t. They have staff, buildings maybe, all kinds of overheads.

But $7 for a 50k book? It doesn’t matter your opinion on devaluing our work by charging less (that is another blog for another time), unless that author is an auto buy for you, would you take the chance on a new $7 book from an author you didn't know?

I worry that publishers are depending too much on their big names bringing in enough to cover the books that maybe don’t sell as well.

And what happens if your big names leave? Or they write a book that doesn’t sell? Where will a publisher find their next big name?

It’s getting less and less likely that the next 'big thing' in this market will come from a publisher.

Because that new writer, who markets themselves, prices themselves decently, has a positive and sunny presence on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, makes connections and friendships with existing authors, markets themselves every day… they will inevitably up self publishing when they see the publishers aren’t doing enough for them.

I’m not calling publishers dinosaurs. I’m not saying they should all pack up and go home. There is a strong need for publishers in this delicate ecosystem of publishing. For newbies, for us old guys, for limited innovation, for taking the stress and cost of publishing away from the new author. For selling your books to audio or translating them. That is their place.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it is up to the author what avenue they choose, the one that feels best for them, self-publishing, going with a publisher, or a hybrid of both.

The cost of a quality product is enormous. The market is changing daily.

And I don’t agree that it is *The fault of self publishers* or *Amazon’s fault*. I honestly think publishing companies are struggling to give authors and readers what they really need. :(

And so they end up having to shut their doors.

*Sad*


6 comments

  1. Well thought out post. It is too easy to blame Amazon or self publishers. But a lot of the time, its down to people not seeing the change in the market and adapting to that change before it is too late. I do know self published books are often marketed more on FB and Blogs. It is sad to see a few big organisations like Amazon dominate the market.

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  2. I have a slightly different concern. I used to be able to look at Amazon's bestsellers and find my favorite author's new books and also some new ones. Now all I see on that list are KU books. I like KU, I'm a member of KU, but I still buy books and I find it really hard to believe that all those KU books are actually being purchased more than non-KU. Amazon needs to separate them.

    I worry about publishers closing but I worry for maybe a different reason. Right now, I go to publishing sites to look for books but only some publishers. I don't even know who they all are. What if they all close and all we have is Amazon and maybe one or two publishers? Will all the LGBTetc books get lost among the giants?

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  3. And as I say time and again when we meet at Town Mills to put the world to rights, we're not necessarily growing the readerbase. Unless we find more readers for the genre, it's a case of more authors/publishers chasing the same pool of potential sales.

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