A Maturing Market: BookBaby Invests in Indie Authors as Self-Publishing Comes into its Own
Photo by abi ismail on Unsplash
One of the biggest transformations of a creative industry has happened slowly but surely, without a great deal of media attention: the rise of the indie author and the ongoing shift of high-caliber writers away from traditional publishing constraints. No longer the realm of vanity presses or low-quality works, self-publishing has matured into a thriving market supporting writers and changing the way people approach books.
BookBaby has played a quiet but instrumental role in shaping this new space, offering best-in-class services and products to aspiring and already established authors, in the hopes of creating a new cadre of writer-entrepreneurs. To do this, the company has invested heavily in expanding its offerings and improving its services, whether that means buying new printing presses or finding a team of experienced editors ready to help.
“We have confirmed over and over again that there are no shortcuts to success,” says Steven Spatz, BookBaby CEO. “Readers need to be unable to differentiate between a release from a major publisher and an indie. If the indie product doesn’t match the expected quality of a major release, it’s DOA. While others come to the market with a new gimmick promising a ‘fast lane to self-publishing success,’ BookBaby has been investing in itself and delivering the real quality products and services that indie authors need to be successful in the marketplace.”
There is a great deal of craft in creating a compelling book, be it an ebook or a coffee table-ready hardcover. BookBaby has human designers and coders on staff, a team dedicated to creating high-quality products for authors of all kinds. “Automation simply doesn’t deliver, as you can see by looking at the covers and books produced in this way,” explains Spatz. “Publishers are racing to the bottom and flooding the market with cheap, poorly printed and bound books.” BookBaby in contrast has invested millions adding the latest and greatest printing presses and binding equipment, including a state-of-the-art printing press to ensure consistent quality and fastest possible turnaround. “We like to think a traditionally published book might look like a self-published book sitting on a shelf next to a BookBaby printed book,” Spatz smiles.
Cutting costs has been a strategy many companies, both established players and newcomers, have employed when faced with the digital transition. BookBaby sees it differently. The company has insisted on keeping support staff on site, not offshoring them and converting them into high-pressure sales teams the way self-publishers did in the recent past. It has created direct sales channels with royalties higher than other platforms, paying authors promptly and teaching authors to engage personally with readers to further boost sales. The personal touch extends to everything BookBaby does: “Even if you published your book with BookBaby in 2010, you can still ring us up today to speak to our helpful staff about it.”
This commitment to service and the long view show how far self-publishing has come, from questionable (or even deceptive) practices to full-fledged and flourishing business. “From our perspective, the moral of the story is there are no shortcuts to success,” concludes Spatz. “BookBaby invests in putting our authors in the best position possible to sell their books. Many of them see success: every month we proudly pay authors hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties for their book sales. We help indie authors look like the big guys, and it works.”