By Brian Schwartz

I contend that if not for Amazon.com (and the Internet that enables Amazon to exist), self-publishing (or independent publishing) would remain a tiny sliver of the publishing industry. Instead, independent publishing now dominates the market! More books are self-published every day than traditional published books. But what about sales? How do our sales as self-publishers compare to those of traditional publishers?

Although anyone can get published today, traditional publishers continue to receive the majority of the sales through an edge they hold in marketing, distribution, and high quality content.

But in all three aspects (marketing, distribution, and content) – I see a shift beginning to occur. As independent self-publishers improve the quality of their content, distribution becomes an option. Many authors who once depended on the big publishers are opting to go independent. Bookstores and libraries will always seek out the best content – whether it be self-published or traditionally published.

What are other independent publishers doing to close the gap in marketing? Many are focused on a marketplace where they can compete – and that’s Amazon. Amazon doesn’t favor traditional publishers. With infinite shelf space, there’s no ‘selection committee’ in deciding what gets sold. Without the gatekeepers that exist at traditional bookstores (limited by shelf space), all of us have a fair shot at getting our books in the hands of readers at Amazon. Add in the explosive demand of the Kindle, and many authors and publishers have discovered a very accessible source of readers.

On Amazon, readers around the world can get any book they want at an affordable price, quickly. Did you know there are over 20 million titles in Amazon’s catalog? To see for yourself, just go to Amazon, change the search category to books, leave the search bar blank and hit the ‘go’ button.

While it’s incredible that you can find that many titles in one place, it’s also a clear indicator that being discovered among those 20 million titles as an author can be a significant hurdle. But there are authors who are doing extremely well on Amazon, despite what appears to be a highly competitive space. So that leads to the question – what are these authors/publishers doing to stand out in the largest bookstore on the planet? On November 17, you are going to get the opportunity to find out. We have assembled a superstar panel of authors/publishers who’ve made it to the top spot on Amazon, to share what’s worked (and what hasn’t). It’s important to highlight the fact that the two ladies who will be on the panel both took their books to #1 in the last 6 months, not 10 years ago.

Did you know that foreign rights licensees represent a significant source of income for the big publishers? And when you produce high quality work, those seeking to translate and publish books in other languages will seek you out! As a bonus at our next meeting, Donna DeNomme will be sharing her insights on how she managed to secure a lucrative rights deal as her book has been translated into several other languages.

There’s never been a better time to be an independent publisher. I see evidence everyday that self-published authors are succeeding at chipping away at the space once owned by a select few. CIPA is a stellar community of like-minded independent publishers and self-published authors who want to share what’s working, are open to learning what’s new, and grateful for an organization that enables both. Come with a mindset of ‘coop-petition’ and you’ll soon discover that we are much stronger united, than we can ever be independently. Whether as a country or as a publisher – it’s united we stand, divided we fall. I hope you’ll join our community and I look forward to seeing you at our next meeting!

Here’s to your self-published success!

Brian Schwartz

CIPA 2012-2013 President

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