I write non-fiction books for a niche specialty market. Initially, all of my books were available as trade paperbacks only and were printed utilizing print-on-demand technology. Three of those titles are now available as Kindle books with two more titles in the process of being converted. Five years ago, for me to have published my books would have required a contract with a traditional publisher or an expensive outlay of capital on my part to have a off-set press run of books printed if I chose to self-publish.
Technology has changed everything and Amazon and Barnes and Noble have given me access to customers I could not have obtained any other way. eBooks are further changing the publishing industry and self-publishing does not bear the stigma it once did. In fact, I expect in the future to see larger and larger numbers of authors self-publishing, either via Amazon's Kindle or another format or with POD services such as Amazon's CreateSpace.
Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrad have made names for themselves as self-publishers who are experiencing success writing genre fiction and selling their work themselves via outlets such as Amazon's Kindle. A quick read of Konrad's blog for authors will let you see just how big an advocate Konrad has become of self-publishing. Mr. Konrad is making a living as a self-published author and not looking back and encourages others to consider self-publishing as well.
How big of an impact has self-publishing and eBooks made on the publishing industry? It is hard to tell. In fact, the big players in the industry do not know the answer to that question themselves. One thing is for certain, self-publishing using either print-on-demand technology or eBooks is here to stay. The publishing houses who make peace with this fact and adapt will survive. Those publishing houses who do not, will go the way of the dinosaur.
What does this mean for the average self-published author? Who knows. We all dream of our book becoming a bestseller, or at least making a reasonable sum of money, but for most of us, the truth is we will be lucky if we sell a few hundred copies of our book. The public, and not the large publishing houses, are the "gate keepers" of quality in books, a fact the large publishing houses seem to not understand.
Some things in the industry will not change. If the book is not a good one, it won't sell. The author must have a sound marketing plan and execute the plan with vigor and aggression. Technology is making this easier than ever before for self-published authors, but the fact remains, there is no substitute for a good book, a good marketing and promotional plan and hard work. As authors we live in interesting times.