The influence of the gatekeepers of Big Publishing continues to decline in a precipitous manner. As we are demonstrating with the apples-to-apples comparison of The Corroding Empire with The Collapsing Empire, there is simply nothing that the Big Five Publishers can do that small and medium publishers can’t do better, except for buying endcaps in increasingly empty bookstores and purchasing slots on fake bestseller lists for PR.
As the chart shows, whereas the initial ebook boom most favored indy writers, now that the market is maturing a bit and it is getting harder to make a name, the trend is favoring small to medium publishers who can offer branding and force multiplication efforts to the Indy authors who a) are not a top 100 author in a major category or b) snapped up by Amazon itself.
One big reason for the fact that the Small/Medium Publisher category outperforms in Gross $ Sales versus units (33 percent vs 17 percent) is that they tend to maintain a higher price point. Looking at the per-unit Indy revenue average, there is no reason for any of those independents, no matter how successful they are, not to go with a Small/Medium Publisher on average. Even if they don’t sell more units to make up for the publisher’s cut, they’ll make the same amount of money or more per unit anyhow due to the ability of the S/MPs to maintain higher price points.
How is that possible? Esssentially, S/MPs are delivering Big Five quality, or better, at prices that are twice Indy levels but less than half the price of the Big Five. It’s a value sweet spot and Castalia is just part of the much larger trend here. I think the reputation of S/MP publishers is only going to increase, because it is the reader’s perception of quality that is essential to our very reason for existence. The success metric is simple: deliver reliable quality harmonious with your brand or see your readers abandon you for Indies and the bestsellers that Amazon has skimmed off everyone else.