Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Future of Self-publishing is the Netflix Model

Netflix categories
To me, the future of self-publishing is the Netflix model.

Self-publishing is in its infancy, and it has a lot of problems. Readers struggle to find high quality material. Indie authors struggle to promote their books among the sea of self-published books.  Readers want high quality books at a low price. They’ve gotten used to indie books being free, and are reluctant to pay full price. Indie authors are competing not only with each other, but with massive traditional publishers with more marketing power. Readers are buying a myriad of devices from iPads to Kindles, and still aren't able to get the books they want on all of them. Indie authors have to do all their own formatting, editing, and covers or pay high prices for others to do it for them. Indie authors are also working against each other instead of working together.

So what's the solution? I think it’s a subscription service.

Imagine this.

Readers can download an app onto their Apple device, Android device, or web browser. The app charges readers a monthly subscription fee, and they can read all the books they want in the library for that month. Books are vetted for quality, so readers can be assured they're getting a professionally written and formatted book. The app lets them browse through different "channels" like science fiction or romance. An algorithm will bring up suggested books based on their reading history or what others are reading. The app also serves as a social network, allowing readers to interact with other subscribers, chat in forums, and post reviews.

Authors can join the service and submit novels or short stories into the app's library. The service would take care of formatting and writing blurbs. The service could provide some premade stock covers authors can choose from. It would be awesome if the service could do some free editing on manuscripts as well, but that might be too much to hope for.

The way authors make money would be something like what Amazon does with their Lending Library. Authors get paid every time their book is borrowed, based on a percentage of the service's profits for that month. The more people who subscribe, and the more borrows their books get, the more money authors make. The service only pays out of what it earns, so it doesn't lose money in the process.

I think this service would be a real game-changer for indie authors and indie readers.

The benefits:

  • Readers get all the books they could want at one low price
  • Readers have a Goodreads-like experience where they can interact with other book lovers
  • Since there's no upfront cost, readers would be more likely to try different books, so they can enjoy books they might not read otherwise
  • With an app instead of a device, readers don't have to worry about getting a Kindle or iPad or an ereader. Whatever device they want to use can work.
  • By the same token, authors will get more people reading their books and make more money than they would trying to sell books individually.
  • With its recommendation engine, the app does all the marketing for authors
  • With our own separate marketplace, indie authors aren't competing with traditional publishers.
  • Indie authors work to promote the service, not individual books. That means they're working together, not against each other
  • Authors have the major problems like formatting, covers, and descriptions handled for them.
  • Authors can spend more time writing and less time promoting

What do you think?

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