There are an awful lot of e-books published every year. Some would say there are a lot of awful e-books. I don’t necessarily agree with that. But the result of having all these e-book titles published every year is that there are probably not enough readers out there to read all of them. We either need to (a) recruit more e- book readers, (b) convince a lot of wannabe writers to not write e-books, or (c) continue on our messy way with the current situation.
I don’t think we will be able to recruit more e-book readers quickly. I read some where that only 20% of Americans have ever downloaded an e-book. The fact is most people still prefer to read paper books. Not everyone wants to carry an e-reader around or read a book on their phone. Over time I think e-book reading will increase and paper book reading will decrease. But one will never completely displace the other.
One way to limit the number of self-publishing writers might be to charge a fee. It is really amazing to me that there are free services out there to self-publish a book. If they charged $100 or $200 per book, it might discourage some wannabe writers. But I don’t think it could ever happen. It would be like Google deciding to start charging for their gmail. People would flock away to other free services that already existed or other free services that would spring up.
That leaves us with continuing on our messy way. Self-publishing is alive and well in 2018. While it is true that certain types of books (i.e. romance, erotica, mysteries, and thrillers) seem to work better with the self-publishing model, there are now best-seller authors foregoing traditional publishing and choosing to go the route of self-publishing. This means that self-publishing is losing some of its stigma. And the services offered to writers keep getting better. I just read that Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is offering a service known as JumpStart to step-by-step instruct authors to publish not only e-books, but paper books as well.
If Amazon gets it right, they are going to make it harder for every other self-publishing service out there. Harder, but not impossible. I don’t believe all the fear-mongering about Amazon. In fact, I might be one of a few people who believe that Amazon is not too big. When it does become too big, I think it will come crashing down under its own weight. For now it just happens to be the biggest, scariest (to its competitors) market out there. But nobody forces authors to publish on Amazon. Nobody forces them to sign up for Kindle Unlimited.
For now Amazon is king. If you self-publish in 2018, you should be on Amazon. But self-publishing on Amazon only gets you on Amazon. A service like Smashwords will get you on many of the other major e-book retail sites. There are several other services that will also get your e-book out into the markets. But don’t be in a big hurry to put your e-book out there with the multitudes of other e-books that are never discovered or read. In 2018 it is now even more important to make sure your e-book is something special that you can be proud of, something that people will want to read, whether readers find it or not.