Moneyball and the Publishing Industry
The above scene from the Brad Pitt film Moneyball is poignant for many reasons, but when I saw it again recently I instantly began thinking about the publishing industry.
In the clip, Billy Beene (Brad Pitt) is interviewed by the Boston Red Sox owner who offers him $12.5 million to be their general manager. The speech that the Red Sox owner gives is about something that can be applied to many things, but in my mind, as a writer, I see it applying heavily to the publishing industry.
For the past three years e-books have outsold print books and that sales gap continues to widen. The publishing houses would make one think (by looking at their statistics) that e-books are not the threat that they seem to be, but if one looks at statistics of all e-book sales versus print book sales, the fact is that print books may become in my children’s lifetime a thing of the past.
What does this mean for the self-published author? The publishing industry is the old guard who have their “hand at the switch” as the Red Sox owner says. Self-published authors are the ones like Billy Beene who are doing something completely out of the ordinary and contrary to the big money makers who (a) charge too much for their e-books and (b) still think that print books are where things will stay.
The problem with this is that they are able to currently tell all of the excellent writers out there who have not hit the lottery of finding an agent that “you’ll get it one day” and “we do not accept unsolicited material”.
Well, I say, as my Dad used to put it: “Rain on them.”
Wednesday was the final day of my free e-book giveaway. Since then I’ve sold 7 copies. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but at $2.99 each, it says that my book might have legs. Perhaps the sales will increase, or perhaps they will not. It doesn’t matter. I may not have a book contract where the publishing company rakes in 80+% of my book sales, but at least I get to own my own work, publish what I want, and hear from readers who enjoy reading my stuff.
Isn’t that what novelists crave, anyway? If you are in it for the money, get out now! If you are in it to create top notch writing, build a fan base, give the gift of your imaginings to readers everywhere and generally bring joy to your life, then being a novelist is your bag.
You may only have a moneyball made of one dollar bills, but you will have a million bucks worth of joy.