I’m seeing less comments along these lines recently than I was a year or so ago, but I remember about a year ago when authors would make comments along the lines of “Well, I used to pay 10 cents for AMS clicks, so I’m not raising my bids.” Or, “I used to get sales without advertising, so I’m certainly not going to pay to advertise my books now.”
And I would always sort of shake my head when I saw those comments. Because they were missing a key point. And that’s that the business environment in which they were operating had shifted and that it didn’t matter what they’d been doing before, they needed to understand what to do now.
Of course, the world being what it is, I had to grapple with this one recently myself and I wasn’t very pleased to have to make that adjustment either. I’d been enjoying some very very nice profit margins in one of my publishing areas and someone decided to come in and take those away by being more aggressive than me.
This meant I was faced with a choice. I could either change what I was doing and give up some of my profit but maintain sales. Or I could keep doing the same thing and lose those sales. What I couldn’t do was keep doing the same thing and expect the same old result.
So I chose to adjust. It didn’t make me happy. I look back at six months ago and think, “Oh, why can’t I get that back? Why did that [“person”] have to ruin my little world?”
But looking back at what was doesn’t change what is.
I was reminded of this when I was reading a recent Knowledge@Wharton article, How Pattern-Based Thinking Gives Companies an Edge. Search for Mike and you’ll find the section that caught my attention.
I’m going to now butcher a paragraph from there to broaden what they were discussing. Words in brackets are my substitutions and are not necessarily accurate representations of what was there before the brackets.
The world is going to change either way; the status quo is going to vanish. The real question isn’t whether [we can keep doing what we’ve been doing]; that world is going to be gone. [This development has] changed the world forever. The real question is whether [doing this new thing] is better than not [doing it]. Getting the revenue is obviously better than not getting the revenue. But understanding that the world [has] changed, and that we need to ask different questions, is [the key].
Apply that to publishing.
KU is here to stay for the time being. You can’t wish it away. It exists and has a profound impact on all authors, self- or trade-published, wide or KU.
AMS is here to stay. You can’t wish it away. It too has a profound impact on all authors. Amazon is too much a piece of the pie these days for AMS not to be relevant.
Tomorrow something new will come along that shifts the game again. (If B&N gets their ad platform straightened out? That could be huge.) Whatever it is, that won’t be going away either.
Burying your head in the sand and pretending that change hasn’t happened doesn’t work. You have to look at the new reality, forget the old one, and make your decisions based on the now and where you think we’re headed in the future.
Holding on to what was can ruin you. (A nice cheerful thought to see you into the weekend…Haha.)