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Self-publishing: A growing first resort

Posted by Tom Chalmers on June 20, 2014 at 2:55 AM

Firstly let’s underline that this isn’t the start of another self-publishing v traditional publishing debate. That’s very 2012. Self-publishing has moved on dramatically since the debates of old and continues to show some robust and sustained growth. A far more worthy conversation revolves around how self-published authors can extract even more value from their work.

In my last blog I talked about how the savviest author entrepreneurs are swiftly identifying the vast potential attached to rights and licensing. Whilst we are seeing more and more activity though our IPR License platform, a continued frustration remains that far too many authors with highly marketable international works continue to miss out having their work published across a range of international territories.

I’ll now get off the rights and licensing bandwagon for a moment to reflect on the continued growth in the self-publishing arena. According to recent statistics, self-published books' share of the UK market grew by 79% in 2013, with 18m self-published books bought by UK readers last year. With print sales falling by 10% last year, and book purchasing as a whole down 4%, ebook sales were reported to have grown, according to Nielsen's tracking of book purchases, up 20% in the UK in 2013, with 80m ebooks bought by UK consumers, to a value of £300m.

But it is the self-publishing market which is showing the most eye-watering growth, up to 18m titles purchased, worth an estimated £59m. However, despite these encouraging figures, self-published books are still reported to account for a tiny proportion of the overall market – 5% of the 323m total books bought, and 3% of the £2,185m spent on books last year.

There remains a great opportunity to expand on this 5% and as such it’s up to authors to come up with even more inventive and original ways to promote, market and ultimately sell their titles to extract as much value as possible. And I have no doubt they will, as this is a market that will continue to find innovative ways to market. And through licensing authors can focus on their key market(s) while looking to have experts promote and sell their work in other markets on their behalf So, with so much room left for growth in the sector, for many writers self-publishing is now a first, rather than last, resort.

Tom Chalmers is Managing Director of IPR License and a Director of AIA. He can be contacted at @Tom_Chalmers

Categories: Looks Who's Self-Publishing, Marketing & Promotion, Sales

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