Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Robert Bidinotto is Beating Publishing


Robert Bidinotto's Hunter just broke into the Amazon Top 10.

He's ahead of the new Stephen King
He's ahead of the new Robert Patterson
He's ahead of the new John Grishham

And he's a self-published author.

There are two reasons why Robert Bidinotto's book is on fire:
  1. It kicks asterisks 
  2. Amazon agreed
They put Hunter on sale and featured it on a front page promo. And that's all they did. The rest was consumer driven. (Only us blokes get to decide what to 1-Click, after all.) Now Robert is kickin' it with the King of Horror.

I'm left wondering about the psychological impact this is having on bestselling authors and their giant publishers. An indie author breaking into the Top 10 is sort of like some random dude in a bathrobe strolling into the Oval Office in the middle of a cabinet meeting. It's just not supposed to happen. But that's exactly what Robert did. And now he's watching TV on the President's couch.

This is a pivotal moment for the many actors in the publishing game. Until this week, the Big-6 retained an unassailable hold on the NYTimes Bestseller List. Many—including myself—believe that a large publisher's marketing muscle is its greatest asset. Robert's success is a direct challenge to that muscle. It shows that on this new frontier, their efforts can be matched or beaten. David just knocked down Goliath. It doesn't mean the end of the publishing industry, but it does warrant some changes in strategy.

Name brand authors have to be scratching their heads. After all, if a no-name author can get into the Amazon Top 10, why can't best-selling authors, with their huge retinues of loyal fans, not do it all themselves? Surely if the best-of-the-best were to charge a little bit less than standard $12.99 for their electronic editions, they could outcompete the man in the bathrobe, right? Publishers are going to have to offer more concessions. It's becoming far too tempting for them to pull an Eisler.

Large publishing houses have to be wondering how to catch this new author's fire. I expect at least one of the Big-6 will be offering Robert a six-figure deal in the coming weeks. With Hunter, Robert has proven with Hunter that his work is in serious demand. (The man is selling thousands of copies a day.) The only question that remains is whom can afford him. Further, smart publishers have to be wondering how they can sign up-and-coming indie authors before they hit it big. It's far easier to make a deal with a gal selling a few hundred copies a day than it is with one that's already in the Top 20. They've gotta start hunting in the Amazon mid-lists.

And indie authors have to be encouraged. One of our own is sitting in the crow's nest. Most of us are having trouble processing it. It was only two years ago that I was told if I self-publishing my novel no publisher would ever touch it. One agent I deeply respected compared going indie to catching leprosy. But then authors like Hocking, Konrath, Crouch, and Eisler showed us all that going indie could land you six or even seven figure book contracts. It turned out that if an author succeeded on Amazon, the publishing industry came knocking on their doors. The era of query letters can end; readers are the new arbiters of taste.

And on a more philosophical  level, Robert's success makes me think back to something Steve Jobs said years ago:

"This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. It's very crude today, yet our Macintosh computer takes less power than a 100-watt bulb to run it and it can save you hours a day. What will it be able to do ten or 20 years from now, or 50 years from now?" -Steve Jobs

Well, Mr. Jobs, twenty years have passed, and now an unknown author can pen a book in his living room, publish it for free on the internets, and outsell some of the most powerful media machines in the world. I'm just sad you're not here to witness it.

Where this all goes from here is unclear to me—but that we are in motion is undeniable.  Robert's success is another tiny pebble along the path.

B.

UPDATE #1: I'm told that Robert Bidinotto wasn't actually the first indie to vault into the Top 10. That honor goes to Darcie Chan's Mill River Recluse. Sorry, Darcie!

UPDATE #2: Hunter just hit number 5. It's hanging out with the Hunger Games.

1 comment:

Libby lydia said...

SAI really accepted you as his child. Plz take care to continue this state by doing what baba said.
dissertation conclusion templates