Geek Gab (via Brian Niemeier) has an interesting interview with Nick Cole, one of the two authors of the excellent Galaxy’s Edge science fiction series. Central quote:
Publishers are screwed. Not just the Big Five out of New York; any publisher bigger than a one or two-man indie operation. There are many reasons why anything resembling the old publishing model is no longer viable, but Amazon’s effective back-listing of any book that’s more than one month old is a major factor. Plus, individual authors have the advantage over publishing companies when it comes to coaxing Amazon’s algorithm.
Rod Walker thinks that is quite accurate. Traditional publishing is not so much doomed as it is obsolete – it simply can’t compete in the challenges of the current marketplace. Like a soldier bringing a single-shot musket to a modern war.
That said, RW isn’t sure that focusing entirely on Amazon is wise long term. (RW is aware that all of RW’s books are only on Amazon, but he writes under other names as well and those books are on various other ebook platforms.) Right now Amazon is dominant, but retail is a brutal business that can turn on a dime.
For example, if a writer has a long series, a sensible approach is to make the first book free on all platforms and then promote that free first book. That will probably result in steady sales across all ebook stores. Not as dramatic as shooting to the tops of the Amazon charts, to be sure, but a bird in the hand is always better than one in the bush. Additionally, that would also provide the author with some insulation from the vagaries of the changing Kindle Unlimited page read rate.
But the advantage of the modern publishing environment is that writers can experiment to their heart’s content and see what works best.