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New models for publishing: podcasting your book

This week’s Time magazine has an excellent, must-read article on how unpublished authors are using podcasting to make an end run around traditional publishing venues that have rejected them. Here’s a rough summary of the business model:

While successful authors pitch their works on their own Web sites, many newer writers are posted on Podiobooks.com. Evo Terra, the co-founder of Podiobooks.com, says 45,000 episodes are downloaded each day. The success of novels is democratically decided: word of mouth leads to more downloads. Voluntary donations to authors (the web site keeps 25%, with the rest going to the writer) are another indicator an author’s popularity.

Here’s the money quote:

Traditional book publishers are struggling. Book sales are down; MacMillan has laid off employees, as have Random House and Simon & Schuster; and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has suspended the purchase of most new manuscripts. With advance money drying up as well as contracts, Terra says that aspiring writers now feel that “maybe I should try something on my own” and build an audience online.

Publishers are still stuck in old paradigms. We have something brand new here: authors as entrepreneurs learning the basic rules of entrepreneurship: produce a product for consumers, find those consumers, make a convincing pitch. The days of big publishers are counting down . . .

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