Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why Multiple Platforms Is The Way Of The Future For Authors

I was talking to one of my authors yesterday and we were comparing recent conference notes each of us had attended. Again, what we noticed were the growing number of writers putting their toes in the water of the self-publishing route, primarily the e-pub route. We also both noted how many authors were a bit leery of making the "all or nothing leap". Some were even noting that they had wished they hadn't.

Note: Before I go any further, this is not a slam on any of the markets. Please understand that what works for one author may not always work for another author, as I shall point out a bit later.

As I was talking with her, she noted that she really didn't understand what the controversy was about. But then she followed it up with a statement that I do believe is 100% true. Her comment is that she does want to have writing in all of the areas. In other words, she sees the value of the multiple platform approach for writers.

Let's look at some numbers. I did a quick search this AM for numbers of books sold. Yes, I am sure we will find a bunch of others but I think this will make my point. According to a May 15, 2013 article in the Christian Science Monitor, the Amazon Editors noted:

• E-books now represent 20 percent of all books sales
• Some 457 million e-books were sold in 2012, compared to 557 million hardcovers sold in last year
Again, this is just a snapshot but it is something worth considering. The argument here doesn't revolve around who sold the most books. The argument is about how to get your book to the most people in the market. In simple numbers, if e-books represented 20% of all book sales, then 80% is obviously somewhere else. Now, as I pointed out, we can probably get numbers that move those e-book sales higher. The point is, if an author is 100% limiting the platform they are working with, they are also reducing the potential number of buyers.
I remember in the 80's when home computers came out, there was a proclamation of how all of the homes of the future would have home computers. Yet, according to the US Census Bureau, only a little over 75% of the homes in 2011 have a computer.
If this is the case, the logical assumption is that we are also looking at a huge number of people without the access to those e-books simply due to technology. These people are buying books. They are reading books at the library. And yes, we also know there is a huge population of people out there who simply love to have a book in their hands.
I do think the publishers out there taking advantage of releasing books in multiple platforms are thinking correctly. Get the product out to as many people as possible. I do think authors who are doing well in this business are also seeing it.

I did state earlier that this approach isn't going to work for everyone. I was speaking with an author just a couple of days ago and she noted that this wasn't approach that would work for her, simply because of focus. When she was working on stories, she needed her mind on one voice and one format. In her opinion, diving into multiple platforms might get her name around more, but would likely (at this time in her career) bring down the quality of her writing. In other words, she can put out 2 books a year with great reviews, or multiple books in different platforms and the quality would be only average.
Again, I do know there are those out there who will say going all in is the only way to go. For you authors, I do wish you all the best and I am sure you will make it. But, when we look at the majority of authors out there, the multiple platform approach may be the way to go.


  1. I'd like to put my work across the platforms, but Audible is one I'm very interested in. I may go the route of Podiobooks with a few short stories until I get the hang of how to get them through a system from start to finish, although I'll likely have a voice actor produce them.

  2. I agree. For now we use the term "hybrid" author for those that are published in traditional and indie platforms. But the multimedia potentials are also very exciting. This is why we created our little Author Marketing 101 book, so authors can create their professional image, online and in person, and take it across their whole career.
    We've heard from readers that bought the digital version first, then immediately went out and bought the print version to actually write in the pages as it was designed, and it was a stronger experience. We recommend going straight for the print version. It can be ordered through any of your favorite bookstores. :D