Paul Jarvis (Everything I Know), Sacha Greif (Discover Meteor), and Nathan Barry (Authority) invited me to host a Self-Publishing Hangout with them this week. It was a great opportunity for me, because I’m about to publish my first “book” (Amplification). Our Google Hangout ended being a 2 hour marathon of us sharing our experience with writing, publishing, and promoting eBooks, as well as answering questions from everybody in the chat room.
In Part 2 we discuss:
- is the self-publishing market getting saturated?
- the publishing process: what tools do you use to create your books?
- what do you outsource?
- should you publish your book for free?
- pricing your ebook
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Is the market for self-published books getting saturated right now?
- Justin: “In our space (tech, design, dev, bootstrapping) it used to be there were only a few people doing it (Amy Hoy, Chris Guillebeau). Next, there was grassroots people who followed their lead, and came on the scene: Nathan Barry, Sacha Greif, Paul Jarvis. But now it seems like there are a lot of more established people getting in to publishing: Adii Pienaar, Shawn Blanc, Mike McDerment (Freshbooks). Do you think there’s too many players in this space now?”
- Sacha: “I don’t think so. I think maybe it seems that way to us because we’re so involved in this space. Although it’s true that there are a lot of books coming out now for people like us: books about design, and books about self-publishing; that niche might get saturated soon. But the vast majority of ebooks are about other things: CSS, food… that will never get saturated.”
- Nathan: “I think there will always be demand to pay $50 or less for high quality content that’s really specific to a topic you care about (as a reader). Instead of going through 50 blog posts on the internet, you spend a little bit of money to get the best stuff on that topic in a PDF. I don’t think it will become too saturated. We also tend to run in really specific circles on the internet and so when we see something we think: wow the whole internet is talking about this, when in reality it’s just your tiny little corner, and 12 people.”
- Justin: “The hard thing is… if you’re already ‘in’ and you already have an audience, it’s easier to say that it’s not saturated. Certain niches can definitely get saturated. Rob Walling just commented on his podcast that there’s been a big, noticeable increase in the number of people asking him (and other founders) to do interviews for books. If it’s true, that there is more saturation, it means that everybody’s quality and uniqueness will have to go up – you’ll need to offer something that no one else is doing.”
- Brennan Dunn (from the chat room): “Rob was mainly arguing against ebook “authors” who just publish a bunch of other people’s writing. e.g. email a bunch of people, compile them into book, profit.”
- Amy Hoy (from the chat room): “Yeah, there’s a definitely a saturation level with ‘I’m not gonna do any work on this product but you should still pay me’ LOL”
- Michael Hartl (from the chat room): “This is still early, early days for ebook publishing.”
- Joelle Steiniger (from the chat room): “Everyone always thinks there’s no room left… and there always is.”
- Sacha: “I think the key point is quality. For example: interviews are really interesting, but there also really easy to do; that’s why there are a lot of e-books that are just a collection of interviews. Unless you’re a professional interviewer, your questions might not always be interesting. So that niche might produce a lot of low quality ebooks. But if that gets saturated, who cares? It will only push people to make higher quality books.”
- Justin: “Yeah. And maybe that’s something else we have to be prepared for: the professional ebook critic. Right now it’s a fairly friendly space.”
- Paul: “You should read some of my comments on GoodReads: there are some reviewers that don’t like stuff that are vocal.”
Paul Jarvis: Everything I Know
Sacha Greif: Discover Meteor
Nathan Barry: Authority
Justin Jackson: Amplification