A Publisher’s Mission Statement

29 July 2014

Live in such a way

29 July 2014

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.

Will Rogers

Publishers need to rethink their marketing deployments and tactics in the digital age to take advantage of their backlists

29 July 2014

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

Well-articulated complaints about the way traditional publishing compares to self-publishing have recently been posted by two accomplished authors, one who writes fiction and one who writes non-fiction.

These point to what most publishers really should already know. Some fundamental and time-honored truths about publishing need to be reexaminedas we continue the digital transition. And one of the things that really needs to change is the distinction between backlist and frontlist.

There is a real baked-in logic to how publishers see their responsibilities and effort allocation across their list. Books have always been launched like rockets. The publisher commits maximum firepower to getting them off the ground. Most crash to earth. Some go into orbit. The ones that go into orbit have “backlisted” and, like satellites, it takes no power or effort to keep them in orbit for a long time if the initial blast-off gets them there.
In fact, a virtuous characteristic publishers have always recognized about backlist stands in the way of developing the right 21st century approach: backlist books sell without the marketing effort that it takes to introduce a new book.

. . . .

My Logical Marketing partner, Pete McCarthy, who worked for both Penguin and Random House in his corporate career, points out that titles in the backlist make can make up more than half the profits for a Big Five house in a given year.

. . . .

Experienced publishers learned over the years that it didn’t matter what promotion you did for a book not fully distributed. If it wasn’t available in stores, promotion and advertising wouldn’t make it sell. Savvy publishers would ignore news breaks or marketing opportunities for books that had gone through their peak bookstore distribution cycle — which can be as short as a few months or even less if a book doesn’t gain initial traction — because chasing them was wasted effort.

None of this is true anymore. Any break can get around quickly, or even “go viral”. And there don’t need to be books in any stores for a break to move print and digital copies. For many categories of books, most copies are already bought online. It’s probably the case for the majority of titles published and it is true for periods of time for just about any title, particularly an older one past its bookstore peak that has a sudden moment of relevance or fame.

. . . .

The common experience of the two authors who have switched from traditionally published to self-published and written about it is that some marketing effort, including price-fiddling, applied to long-ago backlist can resuscitate a dormant book and that fact, combined with the higher share of revenues self-publishing brings, can make the effort of managing their own publishing business well worth the effort to them. Another component is that both authors want to work on making their books sell.

Of course, this constitutes a loss to the publishers whose initial efforts helped create both the product and the platform that the self-publisher and the self-publishing infrastructure (most prominently Amazon, but there are plenty of players there) then capitalizes on.

. . . .

There is a critical strategic question here that the industry has not resolved. Authors really need to control and manage their own personal web presences and decide on how to best leverage those presences — in conjunction with their publisher(s) or not. But managing a personal web presence is knowledge-, cost-, and labor-intensive and there is no great correlation between how well a person can write and how well they can manage their online opportunities. Still, an author can’t really totally entrust that work to any one publisher, because each is only really interested in the books they publish.

. . . .

[T]he fact is that it is easier to do intelligent and targeted marketing for a book that is a year old than for one that hasn’t been published yet.

But publishing organizations are not structured to take advantage of that fact. In the past ten years, the ratio of marketing personnel to sales personnel has changed in every house: more marketers and fewer sales people. But there has not been a comparable shift in marketing deployment between new titles and backlist. If publishers want to stop losing their most marketing-savvy multi-book authors to self-publishing, that’s something that urgently needs to change.

. . . .

Publishers need to recognize that if authors can sell their backlist more effectively than their publisher(s) did, the publisher was doing something wrong — or failing to do some things right. Authors are right to leave and take matters into their own hands when that happens. Publishers further need to recognize that the authors who can effectively market themselves are the very authors they most want, and that figuring out how to create an environment of collaborative synergy with them is what the successful publisher of ten years from now will have done. 

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files and thanks to Terrence for the tip.

It’s painful to see an industry that has the well-being of so many talented authors under its control demonstrate that it is clueless about marketing books outside of traditional bookstores.

As PG has said before, he regards Mike’s thinking as representative of some of the ideas floating around the best minds in New York publishing. Unfortunately, calling the ideas discussed in this article Online Marketing 101 would be defamatory to Marketing 101.

Again, the thought that authors’ financial welfare is in the hands of such tradpub marketing morons is depressing.

The Bad Boyfriend

29 July 2014

From author Tudor Robins:

I have to thank my friend Christina for giving me the theme I needed to pull together this post. Christina says she, and her family, are like a bad boyfriend – they can’t commit to anything. 

. . . .

I’m sure most of us have known what it’s like to wish with all our hearts that a certain boy, or girl, would call us. Or return our call (or our six calls). That we would get their undivided attention. That they’d commit to us.

That roller coaster is crazy-making. It’s also, sometimes, exhilarating. Ninety-nine per cent of the time it’s a ride you don’t want to be on, but one per cent of the time it puts you on top of the world.

I remember meeting my husband and having a decision to make. I knew, with him, I would never again be waiting for the bad boyfriend to call. I knew he would always do what he promised – and more.

. . . .

This does relate to writing – I promise. Because, in my experience, seeking a publishing contract was the same as seeking to date that uber-popular person who has dozens of other people also wanting to date them.

When I was querying agents and editors, I had to be on all the time. Every tiny email was cause for agonizing revision and second-guessing. I couldn’t follow up too quickly, couldn’t be too pushy; couldn’t offend, and couldn’t bore.

I watched my inbox the way a teenager watches her phone the week all her friends are getting asked to the prom.

. . . .

I’m free.

I felt it the minute I decided to self-publish APS, and made that decision official.

No more waiting. No more wondering. No more half-commitments.

When people ask “When is your next book coming out?” I can tell them.

I can decide what my next book will be, and when I’ll publish it, and what I’ll work on after that, and how much I’ll charge for my work, and EVERYTHING.

. . . .

What I want to cut out is the months and months of waiting, and watching my inbox, and hoping that an email will come soon, and it will contain a contract, or at least a firm publication date. I don’t have time for that, and it saps my energy and kills my momentum.

I’m very happy with the friends I have, the husband I have, and the people I work with to bring my books into the world. Not a bad boyfriend among them.

Link to the rest at Tudor Robins and thanks to Lyn for the tip.

Here’s a link to Tudor Robins’ books

Publishing industry reels after nine million fewer books are given as gifts in 2013

29 July 2014

From The Independent:

The number of books being given as gifts has fallen by nine million in a year, delivering a new financial blow to the publishing industry as UK consumers turn away from hard copies in favour of digital reads.

The trend was revealed in Nielsen Book’s UK Books & Consumers Annual Review for 2013, which identified a four per cent year-on-year decrease in the UK book market between 2012 and 2013 both in terms of volume and value.

. . . .

“In view of the importance of the gift market to the book industry,” she said, more work was needed to examine the causes of “the apparent decrease in the value that consumers are placing on books as gifts”. Similar patterns have been identified in the United States. Gifts accounted for 22 per cent of book sales in 2013, down from 24 per cent in 2012.

The survey found that digital e-books now account for 25 per cent of all book purchases (up from 20 per cent in 2012) and that their growth is at the expense of paperbacks (down to 50 per cent from 55 per cent) but not of hardbacks (steady at 21 per cent).

. . . .

Accounting group PwC recently predicted that the e-book would overhaul the paperback and hardback as the preferred reading format by 2018.

Link to the rest at The Independent and thanks to Robert for the tip.

Laurie Kellogg: Portrait of a Self-Published Romance Writer

29 July 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Laurie Kellogg has published nine books since February 2012. The tenth book is scheduled for publication “sometime this year, if I can find the time to write.” The book has a title, cover, and business card. Once Kellogg finishes the manuscript and an editor has reviewed it, she will start the production process to get the book formatted and onto the digital marketplaces; Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Kellogg doesn’t just write her books, she designs them, works on the cover art, produces the book files, and manages all of the marketing and publicity.

Kellogg, who I met at last weeks Romance Writers of America Conference, is a quintessential (and self-proclaimed) Romance Writers of America (RWA) success story. She started writing seriously in 1999, joining RWA the same year. She wrote several novels and submitted them to publishing houses, which was also the start of her collection of rejection notices. At the same time she began entering these manuscripts in the Golden Heart contest, RWA’s award for manuscripts by unpublished authors, eventually becoming a finalist seven times and winning twice.

. . . .

In 2011 she received an offer to publish a series she’d written from a New York publisher but turned them down, deciding to self-publish instead because “They had their chance for all those years!” The first two books she published, The Memory of You and A Little Bit of Déjà Vu, were her Golden Heart winners.

Kellogg said about the financial aspect of self-publishing “I’m making more money now than I ever made from any job I’ve had.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Here’s a link to Laurie Kellogg’s books

Self Publishing is Real! (Now what?)

28 July 2014

From author Andrew Updegrove:

At some point in the last two years self-publishing became accepted as a real, and even preferable, route over the traditional path. That’s great news, but it’s only the first step. What we need now is for a self-publishing ecosystem to evolve that makes self-publishing a more efficient, enjoyable and effective route for authors of all types.

How best to describe what I mean by that? Well, let’s start by describing what the traditional route looked like during the golden years, and compare it to what the self-publishing experience is like today. Back then, here’s what an author could look forward to in a successful publishing partnership:

1. An advance to tide the author over while the book was written

2. An editor to help her improve her book

3. A proofreader to polish it up

4. A designer to package it appropriately

5. A marketing team to put together and execute an effective marketing plan, including , planning book tours

6. A marketing team to promote the book at trade shows and sign up book stores to take books

7. Reimbursement for book tour expenses

8. A printer

9. A business department to manage the printing, get an ISBN number, do the paperwork to get the product into all the right distribution channels, and then manage the delivery, sales, and returns

10. A book-keeper to plot sales against the advance, and forward royalties on regular, if lengthy, intervals

Now let’s look at the current state of the self publishing world and see how an author would go about handling the same needs. The following services are readily available in the marketplace:

2. An editor to help her improve her book

3. A proofreader to polish it up

4. A designer to package it appropriately

. . . .

So what can’t an author obtain in the open market? That would be the following:

1. An advance to tide her over while the book is written

6. A marketing team to promote the book at trade shows and sign up book stores to take books

7. Reimbursement for book tour expenses

. . . .

Happily, with over a billion English-speaking people in the world, an author can be very successful without ever approaching the book store channel at all. This is a huge and empowering change in the publishing landscape, without which nothing would have really changed.

. . . .

So here’s what I think needs to evolve so that authors – and readers – can enjoy a robust marketplace of quality, creative work:

1. A more ordered marketplace whereby authors can find and purchase the quality services they need.

2. A new breed of service providers that provides real and savvy marketing value, rather than people who just go through a punch list of often outmoded standard items (the most notoriously useless of which is the press release, which isn’t even worth lining a parrot cage with).

Link to the rest at Andrew Updegrove: Tales of Adversego

Here’s a link to  Andrew Updegrove’s books

Success

28 July 2014

Success took me to her bosom like a maternal boa constrictor.

Noel Coward

The Great Agent Hunt

28 July 2014

From author and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff:

The “How Do I Get An Agent?” question is coming at me from all directions this week and I figured I’d better put the answer all in one place so I can just refer people here.

So you’ve finished your first novel and now you face the dreaded question: What do I do now?

. . . .

If you’re planning to go right into indie publishing, great! You don’t need an agent. Skip this step and go straight on to a whole other set of scary issues. :)

. . . .

A good literary agent lives in New York (that’s CITY). An agent’s job is pretty much to go out to breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, and drinks with every good editor in the city, and know what those editors are looking for, so that when you hand your agent your new book or proposal, your agent will know exactly which editor is looking for what kind of a book – know each editor’s taste intimately, so that your agent can submit to exactly the right editor at each publishing company and put you and your book in the position of making the best possible deal available on the planet at that moment.

. . . .

When your agent submits your book, s/he will most likely submit it to 8-10 of the top publishers in New York simultaneously.

. . . .

An agent also is or functions as a contracts lawyer (or a good agency will have a department of contracts lawyers) who will, after the sale of a book, negotiate a contract that is far better for the author than the boilerplate (basic contract) – such as retaining rights in other media and other countries, reversion of e rights, and other critical bargaining points.

Writers without representation or with less than ideal representation might realize just how unfavorable the contract is only when it’s much too late.

Link to the rest at Alexandra Sokoloff and thanks to Bill for the tip.

Here’s a link to Alexandra Sokoloff ‘s books

PG was going to comment, but he needs to get to work for a client whose agent completely screwed up the publishing contract.

Accidentally Going Digital

28 July 2014

From BookRiot:

If there’s one thing I spend a lot of time championing around here, it’s that everyone should read whatever they want without shame, and they should read it in whatever format gives them the most pleasure and ease of use. You want to read Shakespeare in giant gold-edged hardcover form? Go for it. You want to read 50 Shades of Gray on your Kindle? Sure, have fun. I hope you get some enjoyment out of it. I am open and accepting.

But that said…come on, I’ve got preferences and prejudices just like everybody else. I just recognize that they apply only to me and I try to keep them to myself.

One of those prejudices has been toward ebooks. I don’t like them. I poke at them a lot, I try out books on kindles and iPads and iPhones, on light-up screen Kindles, and so on and so forth. I enjoy them the way I enjoy experimenting with any piece of gadgetry…but then, when I want to stop fiddling around and get down to the brass tacks of reading (which would be more comfortable without all these brass tacks), I inevitably go physical. I have shelves and shelves of physical books, and even if I have a book digitally, I am inclined to buy a hard copy of it.

. . . .

Externally, I’d made my peace with all of this. Everyone else can read how they want, I’ll read how I want, and we’re just fine. Internally, I kept picking away at it because I don’t enjoy disliking things other people enjoy. I like figuring it out and enjoying it too (or understanding precisely why I can’t enjoy it and going on my own way).

Then something really interesting happened, which is that the past two months passed and I looked up the other day and realized…I hadn’t read a physical book in two months.

And then I said what the hell?

That is so weird. It’s like being a fish with primitive lungs who suddenly realizes he’s been out of the ocean for ages and stands around going how did that happen? And how indeed did it happen? What caused the shift, what caused me to so abruptly become comfortable with it that I didn’t even notice the shift happening?

. . . .

It’s the path of least resistance to reading, which is why even now that I’ve realized it, I haven’t been inclined to do anything about it. There hasn’t been any great and conscious rush back to physical books over digital. It just seems to have stopped being one-over-the-other all of a sudden. I’m happy to take books either way, which is a completely new experience.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

For PG, ebooks were love at first sight.

Two nights ago, PG finished a book on his Kindle, but wanted to keep reading. He looked over at a stack of very good and unread printed books sitting beside his bed, felt guilty about not reading them, and bought another ebook.

 

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