Wednesday, April 15, 2015

70 Percent of the Top Sellers Come from Medium- to Small-Sized Publishers

This figure impresses me. The first time I saw it on an Amazon report I was really astonished. We had just had two Amazon top sellers (in the book's respective categories) in 2014. It seems the small publishers have inched out the larger groups like Random House where their statistical "winnings" were at 16 percent, according to that same Amazon report.

In terms of market position and perception by the average author, the big publishers still retain their allure. My belief though is that new authors stand a much better chance at success by working with independent presses than the big houses. The barriers to the big publishers are numerous:
  • You have to have an agent
  • It takes time to get an agent
  • You have to write a book proposal and prove your platform
  • You have to have a platform
  • You have to have a platform to prove you have a following (audience)
  • Your agent has to build this case with a prospective publisher
  • A prospective publisher has to build its case to accept your manuscript
  • And if you've gotten this far maybe you'll be published
  • And then if you've gotten this far maybe you'll be published 18-24 months from that point
It's rare that traditional publishers accept new talent or authors. Unless you're some kind of "name" your statistical likelihood decreases. Now I'm not saying it's impossible. Anything is possible with the power of passion, persistence and a huge dash of belief. But the most common fallacy goes like this:

"I'm going to get an advance and write."

No, advances are rare and uncommon. The economy, the competitive nature of publishing, and a diluted marketplace full of many different avenues to publish make those benefits less available.  What most authors don't realize is that even if they get an advance, it's an advance against sales. So, no sales mean a check is being written in reverse -- no fun. Now please realize your royalty on average is between 8 to 12 percent. Doing the math on the average cost per book and that's not a lot of money for a whole lot of work.

And now you can see why many new authors turn to smaller presses to get their start. The eBook revolution has completely up-ended publishing and broadened it. It puts more control back in the author's hands. But fundamentally a book still needs to be well written, professionally edited, and professionally produced. The idea that "anyone" can write is only partially accurate. Yes, anyone can write who knows how to write. Does that make it good or even great? Does that make it something someone wants to buy and read?

Our company 3L Publishing ( is designed to help new and emerging authors as well as business leaders and owners produce top-shelf books. When you've got the kinds of barriers we've just described, you need a publisher with an established reputation, foundation to provide success, and ability to do it right.

For more information, log onto our website at or send an email to

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