When you think of your favorite books, where are they from? Penguin? Hachette? HarperCollins? Or are you one of the few who loves indie books?
I read from a bit of all four. But something I’ve noticed is that when I get excited about an indie book, no one knows what I’m talking about. They don’t know the book. The author. The press. They’re completely confused.
That’s due to how top heavy the book industry is nowadays. The Big Five, which is the top five publishing houses, dominate most publishing sales. They are:
- Hachette Book Group
- Macmillan Publishers
- Penguin Random House
- Simon & Schuster
When I say most publishing sales, I mean it and then some. According to Publishers Weekly, a Big Five editor had this to say about the publishing world:
“There used to be a lot more books that could sell 40,000–50,000 copies. Now more sell fewer than 10,000 copies. It’s either feast or famine.”
If you’ve ever wanted a writing career like me, it’s work your way up into the Big Five or almost get no sales at all. Even if you land a book deal with the Big Five, it still doesn’t mean your novel will sell well. But it does give you a better chance.
Also, not every writer wants to make a living off of writing, and that’s fine too. Be the writer you want to be. But for those of us who’ve always wanted to write books and that’s it, our window of opportunity is getting narrower.
Which honestly sucks, because not all good books get published through the Big Five. There are some awesome indie books that may never see the light of the day.
This isn’t the publishing world I’d like to live in. Writing is hard. We create worlds and ideas from nothing. It shouldn’t be a hobby that we work on for years only to publish a handful of books for a dollar or less to a limited audience.
I wish there was a way to change this. But I’m not sure how. Do you have any ideas? Leave a comment below!
5 thoughts on “The book industry is top heavy, & what does that mean for us?”
I’m trying to let go of fantastical expectations whilst still pursuing my dream of publishing my books. This is a difficult balance.
In the end, I have to keep going back to God and saying, “You told me to write, but that doesn’t mean that your plan for me was to be a bestseller. I’ll just keep writing, keep trying, and the rest is up to you.”
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That’s a good thing to go back to. It is a difficult balance.
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I think this will change eventually, but it will take years. There are a lot of mediocre indie books out there that don’t help indies develop a reputation as great reads. We have to keep writing great books.
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I think it would be incredibly hard to change these trends just like it’s incredibly hard to change the trend from online shopping to brick and mortar. I guess it’s really all about product differentiation in both industries. I’m a big believer in just working hard as a writer and producing a quality product and eventually a breakthrough will come.
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Yeah, I see what you mean. I wish working hard and producing quality content worked well for everyone. All we can do is our best.