Having a second look at this post on indie presence in Amazon’s Top 100–I queued it back in December–it’s actually surprising how low this number (25%) is, given the volumes involved (unless indie books only represent a quarter of books on Amazon… I’m not sure of the exact maths, I’m a writer, damnit, not a numberer!).

Really, I think all it’s reiterating is the same story we’ve heard over and over and over again: good writing (for whatever subjective value of “good” is relevant here) comes to the fore no matter how a work is published.

It also relates back to something I was musing about on Twitter the other day. In effect, the more viable self-publishing is as a farm team, the less traditional publishers have to spend on the expensive and risky acquisitions part of their business; things like slush piles, midlist authors… hell, even agents and in-house editors (why put someone on salary when you can contract the service out for a pittance?). A lot of indie advocates push back hard against this notion with the whole “what could traditional publishers possibly have to offer me?” thing… Except obviously traditional publishers do have something to offer, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to keep poaching indies off the bestseller lists.

We’re going to see more of that, not less.

It’s also going to go hand-in-hand with better conditions for traditionally published authors–again, triggered by indie pushback–but those conditions that are going to benefit less and less people overall. A kind of Gini coefficient for authors, if you will.

Traditional publishers are going to learn their lesson from indie authors; that much is inevitable. I just don’t think they’re going to be learning the lessons indies want them to learn…1

  1. Advances are the First Sign of the Apocalypse on this one; Amazon has shown publishers that authors don’t “need” them. I’m sure many tradpub authors would disagree, but it’s a hard point to argue when publishers can point to any number of hyper-successful indie authors who are a living counterargument. []