PRH scoops book deal with Obamas

From The Bookseller:

Penguin Random House has scooped the world rights to publish former US president Barack Obama’s book, along with a title from his wife Michelle, in a deal reported to have topped $65m (£52.5m).

Barack and Michelle are writing separate books, but brokered the deal together through literary agent Robert Barnett, who also negotiated former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s £4.5m book deal, and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly. No separate information about UK publication plans have been revealed, and a PRH UK spokesperson declined to give any more information.

The books will reflect on the Obamas’ White House years and Associated Press has cited “a publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations” as saying Barack Obama’s book will be a straightforward memoir about his presidency, while Michelle Obama plans to write an inspirational work for young people that will draw upon her life story.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

AAP Sales: September Inches Up; Trade Books Up 1.3%

From Shelf Awareness:

In September, total net book sales rose 0.7%, to $1.471 billion, compared to September 2015, and represented sales of 1,207 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first nine months of the year, total net book sales fell 5.8%, to $11.131 billion.

. . . .

In September, adult book sales slipped 0.7%, to $493.1 million, while children’s/YA rose 4.6%, to $187.5 million. Trade e-book sales fell 14.9%, to $96.2 million.

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Why I’m Turning Trad-Pub Deals Down

From author Elizabeth Spann Craig:

I’ve been asked by writers and others if I’d ever query traditional publishers again.

As a matter of fact, I’ve gotten queried by traditional publishers a couple of times in the past year.  I’m not really sure why, since there now seem to be many cozy writers out there. I’ve politely rejected them.

It’s not that I had a bad trad-pub experience. It’s just that I’ve had a better self-pub experience.

Reasons I’ve decided to stick with self-publishing:

I make more money writing independently of a publisher.  This is by far the top reason. I even made more self-publishing a few books than I did with more traditionally published books on the shelves.

. . . .

I can make changes to my online profiles at the retailers and distributors I deal directly with.  I had to deal with a lot of red tape to even get my photo up on Penguin Random House’s site last week. I was stunned to find it wasn’t up there. After all, I’ve written for the publisher since 2010 and my photo was available to them for the backs of the books.

. . . .

I can run promotions on books with lagging sales. I can make a book free. I can give a book away to gain newsletter subscribers (and then inform them of new releases for later sales gains). I can run quick weekend sales to make my books more visible on retail sites.

. . . .

I don’t feel the need to prove anything. Originally, it did feel good to be validated by a gatekeeper…I was a newer writer and I needed that. Now, I prefer reader validation. It’s ultimately more valuable.

Link to the rest at Elizabeth Spann Craig and thanks to Deb for the tip.

Here’s a link to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Paperback, hardcover, and audio sales grow; ebook sales decline

From No Shelf Required:

AAP has released some new numbers this week that point to the trend we saw in previous findings: that print (paperback and hardcover) and audio sales continue to grow while ebook sales continue to decline.

As always, when such reports are released, NSR zooms in on ebook numbers. They continue to go down (not up), as we can clearly see, but as we’ve noted previously on this issue, this may actually be a good thing. At least for those who advocate for more affordable access to books online, and especially for those whose advocate free access to books online (beyond libraries). Although disappointing, numbers like this do not confirm that people don’t want to read and access content in digital format. Instead, they confirm that they simply do not want to pay for ebooks, or at least not as much they’ve had to pay thusfar.

Readers are already used to consuming massive amounts of information for free in digital format, and their expectations continue to gravitate in the direction of ‘free’ even when it comes to books (including fiction and all types of nonfiction).

Link to the rest at No Shelf Required 

9 Statistics Writers Should Know About Amazon

From Jane Friedman:

1. Amazon’s print book sales grew by 15% in 2016—as estimated by Author Earnings. This gain was primarily driven by Amazon’s own discounting on print.

To the extent that print is “back,” one can connect it to Amazon’s discounting. Since 2013, the traditional book publishing industry has enjoyed about a 3% increase in print book sales. However, print book sales have grown largely because Amazon sold more print books. Barnes & Noble’s sales declined by 6% in 2016, and sales from mass merchandisers (Target, Walmart, etc.) also declined.

2. Ebook sales at Amazon increased by 4% in 2016 (again, as estimated by Author Earnings), despite Big Five ebook sales declining. Nielsen’s Jonathan Stolper said at Digital Book World, “Price is the most important and most influential barrier to entry for ebook buyers, and the increase in price [at publishers] coincided with the decrease in sales.” Any talk about digital fatigue, the consumer’s nostalgia for print, or a preference for the bookstore experience isn’t supported by the sales evidence—which Author Earnings’ Data Guy was eager to point out. If print is back, it’s partly because consumers are unwilling to pay more (or about the same price) for an ebook.

. . . .

6. When it comes to print book sales for the major publishers, Amazon represents roughly 50% of the pie; wholesalers, libraries, and specialty accounts are 25%; Barnes & Noble is in the teens; and independent bookstores are about 6-8% of the print book market.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

What’s next for books?

From TechCrunch:

I like Digital Reader editor Nate Hoffelder. He is one of the few bloggers about publishing who doesn’t suck up to the industry, nor does he particularly gild the lily. He basically believes that books are great, publishing is probably doomed and that writing is really important.

That’s why I was happy that he surfaced and debunked the claims of Chip McGregor, an agent who believes we’ll be seeing more books launching directly to mobile and a move away from indie publishing as mainstream publishers finally get their acts together. While McGregor is right sometimes — e-books will be read on mobile phones more often — he’s also pretty wrong.

His first mistake? He believes that Barnes & Noble will create mini bestseller stores. He writes:

Barnes and Noble will open some mini-stores that only stock bestsellers. I don’t have any insider knowledge about this, but with Amazon opening brick-and-mortar stores, B&N has to do something to try and grab a bit more market share.

B&N is, for want of a better word, dead. Their strategy of opening massive stores with large footprints and stocking everything from board games to stuffed animals (and some books) has failed, and there is no reason to visit a B&N unless you want to get a coffee and read magazines for free. That said, the e-book backlash has given independent bookstores new legs, and it has gutted big-box retailers, but I could definitely see a chain of small bookstore cafes that could stock new and used titles, plenty of kids books for parents to peruse for their little ones and some coffee. I just don’t see B&N leading that charge.

. . . .

[Y]ou’ll see more long-tail authors picking and staying in the indie realm. Eliot Peper comes to mind as someone who is finding more indie success than he would at a mainstream publisher, and there are more. He also suspects that ultra-low, 99-cent pricing will go away in indie titles, something that is also a bit far-fetched; 99-cent pricing is still a clever way to drive up sales and Amazon rankings, and giving up on that odd tweak could be the death of most indie writers.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Top Hat Raises $22.5 Million to Go After Pearson, McGraw-Hill

From Bloomberg Technology:

Top Hat, the Canadian education technology startup, completed a new round of funding to give it more firepower to go after textbook publishers like Pearson Plc.

The $22.5 million round is Top Hat’s biggest yet and brings its total funding to about $40 million, the Toronto-based company said in a statement Wednesday.

. . . .

Top Hat is one of a handful of startups trying to find ways to disrupt the traditional textbook publishing industry, dominated by companies like Pearson, Cengage Learning Inc. and McGraw-Hill Education Inc., which is owned by Apollo Global Management LLC. All of these firms have added digital educational materials to their range of products, but the transition has been rocky.

. . . .

Even as the big publishers work to increase the proportion of sales that come from digital products, they’re still largely dependent on physical books.

That’s a weakness Top Hat Chief Executive Officer Mike Silagadze said he’s trying to exploit. He started by selling software tools to professors that help them engage their students, such as smartphone apps that let them tell lecturers if they understand new concepts in real-time. The company, which launched in 2009, has 2 million students using its products.

The next step is to go directly after the textbooks and digital course content made by Pearson and McGraw, Silagadze said in an interview. In November, they launched an online content marketplace, where professors can create course materials and sell it around the world. The idea is to cut out the publisher and let professors sell directly to students and each other, Silagadze said.

“It fundamentally breaks the publisher’s traditional model of producing content,” he said. “Our aim is to disrupt the paradigm the publishers have created over the last 100 years.”

. . . .

The industry “has been dominated by really traditional publishers that come exclusively from the content side and not the technology side,” Wenger said in an interview. His son’s Intro to German textbook cost $230.

“That era is coming to an end,” he said.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg Technology and thanks to T.K. for the tip.

Publishers are hiring ‘sensitivity readers’ to flag potentially offensive content

From The Chicago Tribune:

Before a book is published and released to the public, it’s passed through the hands (and eyes) of many people: an author’s friends and family, an agent and, of course, an editor.

These days, though, a book may get an additional check from an unusual source: a sensitivity reader, a person who, for a nominal fee, will scan the book for racist, sexist or otherwise offensive content. These readers give feedback based on self-ascribed areas of expertise such as “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities within families” or “transgender issues.”

. . . .

Sensitivity readers have emerged in a climate – fueled in part by social media – in which writers are under increased scrutiny for their portrayals of people from marginalized groups, especially when the author is not a part of that group.

Last year, for instance, J.K. Rowling was strongly criticized by Native American readers and scholars for her portrayal of Navajo traditions in the 2016 story “History of Magic in North America.” Young-adult author Keira Drake was forced to revise her fantasy novel “The Continent” after an online uproar over its portrayal of people of color and Native backgrounds. More recently, author Veronica Roth – of “Divergent” fame – came under fire for her new novel, “Carve the Mark.” In addition to being called racist, the book was criticized for its portrayal of chronic pain in its main character.

. . . .

Clayton, who is black, sees her role as a vital one. “Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.

. . . .

“Even if authors mean well, even if the intention is good, it doesn’t change the impact,” Ireland said. “It’s nice to be that line of defense before it gets to readers, especially since the bulk of people who come to me write for children.” Fees for a sensitivity readers generally start at $250 per manuscript.

Link to the rest at The Chicago Tribune and thanks to Abel for the tip.

Hachette UK reports 17.5% sales hike in fourth quarter

From The Bookseller:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both published by Little, Brown, helped Hachette UK to see “strong” 17.5% sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which in the third quarter drove Hachette UK sales up 30% after its release at the end of July 2016, was credited by Hachette’s parent company Lagardère in bolstering business growth for the whole publishing division in 2016 by 11% while Lagardère Publishing’s revenues in 2016 rose 2.5% like-for-like to €2,264m (2015: €2,206m).

However Hachette UK c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson commented that the “outstanding” final quarter of 2016 was thanks to “sales across the board”.

Revenues for Lagardère Publishing in the fourth quarter (end September to end December 2016) were down by 1.4% at €619m like-for-like (2015 Q4: €631m) “as expected” owing to an unfavourable comparison effect linked to the success of Astérix in the fourth quarter of 2015 that was only partly offset by the United Kingdom’s “good performance”. Sales in French division were down 6.4%, while US sales were down 12.4%.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

How To Get Published

From The Writing Cooperative:

“Sorry we don’t publish unpublished authors.”

This is the conundrum I found myself in when I finished writing Hellbound. I had sent submission letters to as many agents and publishers as I could find on the Internet. Their responses were largely saying the same thing; unless you have a successful body of recognised work behind you, we won’t even read your manuscript.

Somewhat disheartened, I turned to my contacts to see what I could do, or whom I could approach to at least get an unbiased opinion on the story. My search led me to Michael Williams, a man connected with a radio station I was doing the weekly surf report on Friday mornings. Michael had previously worked for one of Australia’s largest independent publishing houses, Text Publishing. He ever so kindly accepted my request to take a look, and offer some advice.

 We met for a beer one night in Melbourne near his home, I having emailed him the manuscript a month prior. I’ll never forget what he said. “I’m glad I don’t have to give you the ‘stick to your day-job’ talk. But, you need to know, getting any kind of novel published is incredibly tough and this one will be near impossible. The genre isn’t huge in Australia. It has big, and maybe too many, original ideas. It is the kind of manuscript every publisher dreams of taking a chance on but never, ever does.” So what do I do? I asked. “Firstly you need to edit it. It’s really only about fifty percent complete, there are some plot holes you need to fill, and you need to build the main character more. But more importantly you need to get the right people to read it, without them thinking they need to make a yes or no decision on it.”

Link to the rest at The Writing Cooperative

As celebrity books boom, professional authors are driven out of full-time work

From The Guardian:

Despite scoring three bestsellers in five years and a clutch of awards, The Spinning Heart author Donal Ryan has been forced to return to his day job in the Irish civil service in order to pay his mortgage.

Ryan has become the latest casualty of tumbling incomes for writers. Despite receiving advances and signing a deal to write three more books with his publisher, the Irish novelist said he had found it impossible to earn a living wage as a full-time writer.

. . . .

Saying his earnings amounted to about 40 cents per copy sold, he told the newspaper he had taken a job in the Workplace Relations Commission.

. . . .

Ryan’s decision came as children’s authors hit out at celebrity children’s books. Tales of Terror author Chris Priestley told the Bookseller that professional authors were finding it hard to compete for advances and shelf space. “It’s a tricky time in publishing at the moment,” he said. “I met a lot of writers last year who were having a hard time and in negotiations they were finding it harder to get the advances they got a couple of years ago.”

Priestley said that while the market was tough for all writers, celebrities were at an advantage competing for book deals. “It seems as though if you’re a celebrity you can just express the idea you would like to do a book – like [radio DJ] Christian O’Connell did on Twitter – and you will get a deal. I still have to pitch my books.”

In the last two years comedians and YouTubers have rushed into the market, some signing six-figure deals, while professional authors’ advances slipped to as low as three and four figures. Adding “children’s author” to their CV are the likes of David Walliams, Russell Brand, Danny Baker, Frank Lampard and Pharrell Williams.

CJ Daugherty, who writes thrillers for young adults, claimed ghostwritten children’s books risked undermining readers’ trust. “We can tell ourselves that readers must know a C-List celebrity, famous for opening makeup boxes on YouTube, isn’t capable of writing an 80,000-word novel,” she told the Bookseller. “But the whole system seems designed to fool people into thinking they are.”

Author and children’s book critic Amanda Craig told the trade magazine: “It’s distasteful [that] celebrities and their agents seem to think publishing a novel is a way to use their brand to make more money and, with the exception of David Walliams, they’re not very good.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Dave for the tip.

How print beat digital in the book world

From The Straits Times:

If the media industry needed proof that it moved too quickly to devalue its print products on the way to chasing digital audiences, the book industry has been making a convincing case in the last few years. The rise of print book sales and decline in e-books in 2015 was no accident. Last year, the trend continued, and self-publishing in electronic form no longer seemed as good a bet as in previous years.

Last year, the unit sales of printed books in the United States increased by 3.3 per cent. That’s not unusual, except that the publishing industry didn’t produce any runaway bestsellers such as 2015’s The Girl On The Train, and only a handful of books, mostly from previous years, sold more than one million copies. The industry made up that deficiency by selling more non-fiction books. That’s an indication of book publishers’ overall health: They are flexible and versatile.

In dollar terms, hardback and paperback books were both headed for solid growth in the first eight months of last year, while e-books appeared destined for an even bigger decline than the 14 per cent drop registered in 2015, according to the most recent data released by the Association of American Publishers. If traditional book publishers accepted that the digital revolution meant a total overhaul of their business – the way the music and media industries have largely done – they would be locked in the same race to the bottom that those two industries have faced. The ease of digital self-publishing and readers’ sense that digital books should be cheaper than paper ones have resulted in growing unit sales but falling revenues – much like how the audiences of major news media have snowballed since the turn of the century without a concurrent growth in revenue.

. . . .

Even in the US, the most mature e-book market in the world, printed books are far more popular. Last autumn, Pew Research found that 65 per cent of Americans had read a paper book in the past 12 months, while only 28 per cent had read an e-book. The popularity of both formats has been steady since 2014, thanks to older consumers who refuse to leave print behind and younger consumers who seek a more analog lifestyle. Reading a paper book – or listening to vinyl records – is a statement, a human being’s answer to being increasingly surrounded, and now even threatened, by machines.

Link to the rest at The Straits Times and thanks to Eustacia for the tip.

PG is anything but an expert on “younger consumers”, but doubts that large numbers are seeking “a more analog lifestyle.”

Agency pricing didn’t restrain Amazon; it strengthened them

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

Many, if not most, of the people in publishing houses I know have what they feel is a pretty clear picture of the changes we’re seeing in the business. There seems to be a strong consensus that the ebook share is leveling off or diminishing as opposed to print. And there is an enthusiasm about what is characterized as a vibrant and growing independent sector. And stronger print, too many (if not most) people (even inside the industry) figure, means stronger brick-and-mortar and a lessening of the power of Amazon.

But data is really elusive and confusing in our business. Nobody really counts everything in the same way with the same time periods and methodology.

. . . .

The challenge of aggregating that data and making sense of it has been tackled by Data Guy, the anonymous quant who put together the Author Earnings website with indie author star Hugh Howey. The original mission of Author Earnings was to get a handle on how much money indie authors earned in relation to conventionally-published ones. Indie authors often sell ebooks, particularly, at much lower prices than established publishers do, with the author getting a much larger share of the consumer dollar from those sales. But indie authors don’t get the same level of print sales (almost none in stores) and often don’t produce audiobooks, which require a separate creative effort.

So indie authors often make more per copy on ebooks, even when they are priced very low, than published authors do, ignoring, for the moment, that so many published books don’t earn out their advance so the effective royalty rate is higher than the contractual royalty rate. The indies also usually give up a big share of the potential market because many of them only get ebook sales through Amazon.

. . . .

So it requires a certain amount of faith to accept Data Guy’s analysis. It is almost certainly not 100% correct. But Bookscan doesn’t capture all the cash registers and PubTrack doesn’t get reports from all the publishers either. (Welcome to the world of publishing data!)

. . . .

That’s analysis each publisher needs for each book they do, and should perhaps engage Data Guy to help them with. There are some stunning revelations even within his DBW slides but, as he spells out, he can get exceedingly granular with that analysis. If my commercial success depended on knowing the landscape, I’d want him to inform me about the market for each book I published.

The other set of insights provided blows away the picture of reality painted here in the opening graf. (Admittedly, the sophisticated quants inside the biggest publishers must know this picture isn’t accurate about their own books.) It documents that the strategy of the biggest publishers, going to agency pricing so it was harder for Amazon to discount ebooks, is not solving their “Amazon problem”. It is exacerbating it!

Data Guy delivers a much clearer picture of the real market by including and integrating data for what Bookscan and PubTrack leave uncounted: the indie-published books (and even some from publishers) that don’t carry ISBNs and Amazon-published books that aren’t reported. He estimates the total “non-traditional” market at $1.25 billion consumer dollars, almost 300 million units across formats, with the lion’s share — 263 million of the 297 million units — being ebooks. The ebooks are on the cheaper side (he says an average of $2.92 per unit for the self-published and $4.38 per unit for Amazon-published). The ninety-nine cent price is pretty much a relic, except for windowed promotions. Amazon made that happen with their royalty structure, encouraging authors to price at $2.99 or above.

This shadow market constitutes 43% of the units purchased on Amazon and 24% of the dollars spent.

Those 263 million ebooks that Data Guy counts and Bookscan doesn’t are the difference between the flat or shrinking ebook market that publishers see and the perhaps-still-growing ebook market that Amazon sales suggest.

. . . .

No, the strategy of forcing Amazon to eschew discounting of ebooks — the agency pricing publishers have fought for and accomplished over the past several years — is not fostering an ecosystem more hospitable to the publishers.

In fact, it is making it more difficult for them.

This is clearly revealed through Data Guy’s consolidated picture of print book sales (only) in 2015 and 2016. In fact, the year-to-year change over those two years showed that the percentage of sales delivered through B&N, Walmart/Target, and “other” (smaller chains, airport stores, non-bookstores) all fell. The celebrated independent bookstores held their own, at a pretty paltry 6 percent of the sales.

But Amazon increased its share substantially, from 38 percent of the print units to 42 percent.

So if the original point to the agency strategy was to reduce the power of Amazon, it isn’t working.

. . . .

It is an incredible irony that the publishers had a strategy to hobble Amazon: stop ebook discounting. The courts found that unpalatable, so the publishers were forced to relent a bit. But, Amazon effectively said “no, thank you, we’re okay with what you did originally” and changed tactics to create a different pressure point.

We now live in a world where 69 percent (shout it out: SIXTY-NINE PERCENT) of book sales — print, digital, and audio — are online and only 31% in brick-and-mortar stores. For kids books, fiction and non-fiction, that’s a bit under half. For adult books, fiction and non-fiction, that’s about three-quarters!

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

PG suspects “sophisticated quants inside the biggest publishers” don’t exist. If PG is wrong about the nonexistence of quants, the only explanation for Big Publishing’s strategy during the last 5-8 years is that management never listens to anyone with the tiniest bit of quantitative ability.

At every major fork in the disruptive road, publishers have made the wrong decision. Fighting Amazon when they should have embraced Amazon. Mispricing ebooks to support print sales. Chasing talented authors away when they should have been treating them like queens. (Yes, publishers are sexist, particularly in their attitude towards “women’s” genres and the authors who write in those genres. Anybody with a single quant cell in their brains would have gone all-in for ebook romances and their voracious readers.)

The Life Cycle of the Book

From Shelf Awareness:

A story titled “The Life Cycle of the Book,” even if it is set at a Wi12 panel, should have a great opening line, and Elizabeth Strout provided a fine one when she remarked at the start of Saturday’s session: “I’m the one who writes the book.”

Moderated by Betsy Burton of the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, the panel explored the life cycle of Strout’s bestseller My Name Is Lucy Barton from the perspectives of the author, her agent Molly Friedrich, her Random House editor Susan Kamil, Ruth Liebmann (v-p & director, account marketing, PRH) and bookseller Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Calif.

“I think that a lot of what an agent does is try to help the author manage expectations, focus on the work, the work; stay honest to the work,” Friedrich said, adding that with Strout’s manuscripts, “she’s been over that work so many times and with such lapidary attention that there’s very, very little to say except to be in a kind of swoon of admiration…. And with Lucy Barton in particular, it was kind of perfect.”

Kamil observed that “editors are like literary shape shifters. We become exactly what our authors need us to become,” and recalled that after reading the Lucy Barton manuscript for the first time, “I can’t quite describe the feeling to you, though as book lovers I’m sure you know what I mean when I say I was stunned and I was speechless…. I also knew it was a masterwork. It’s all about the book. And in this particular case, what a book! I had to get it into the hands of our publishing team.”

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Digital Book World Indie 2017 Wrap-Up

From author Ron Vitale:

The state of indie publishing is in flux. Is print coming back? Are indie authors losing sales? And with the rise of more competition from traditional publishers, what is an indie author to do?

Based right outside of Philadelphia, I took the train up to New York and went hoping to find answers at Digital Book World Indie 2017. Truth be told, one of the main reasons why I went was to hear Data Guy talk in the Tight Insights: The Indie Universe Quantified session. I wanted to see his data on the big screen. I could have listened to him for hours.

. . . .

How are indie authors going to compete and thrive against huge conglomerate corporations? At the end of the first session, Porter Anderson reminded all of us that when photographers needed to streamline their services, they came together to form a co-op. Professional services (developing the film, marketing, etc.) could be provided by reputable and vetted individuals while the photographers could stay out longer in the field, shooting. Anderson, in his understated way, turned to the audience and said, “Now it’s all on you.”

The biggest take home message from Digital Book World Indie is so simple that I almost missed it while preparing for the next talk. When we as indie authors unite, we have strength. We are the sum of our individual skills.

. . . .

While I sat in the conference room listening to the talks, I had my phone out, sharing information with members of a private Facebook group. And throughout the day, I kept checking in on Michael Anderle’s 20BooksTo50K Facebook group. I joined the 20BooksTo50K group back in December when there were 1,200 members. Less than a month later, there are more than 3,450 members. Fellow indie authors who are sharing their launch plans, screenshots from their sales dashboards, asking for advice on covers they are having designed and talk through the most in-the-weeds details about email lists.

. . . .

The mismatch between the experts at the conference and the brain power available from within the room itself could not have been more pronounced over the course of the day.

. . . .

The second most important lesson I learned at DBW Indie is that traditional publishers, to quote Jane Friedman, “are kicking ass in marketing.” Judith Curr’s (President & Publisher of Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster) talk brought that home to all the authors in the room. Not only are publishers creating apps such as Crave, but they are performing A/B tests with their advertising, targeting the appropriate readers with the ads as well as sending out thousands of ARCs in advance to build reviews online.

Judith Curr came to speak to a room full of indie authors with an olive branch, asking us to consider traditional publishing. The word “hybrid” floated throughout many of the sessions and authors were pitched not only by Curr, but by Kobo, Wattpad, Ingramspark and, if you wanted, one-on-one with iBooks. Opportunity flowed throughout the day.

The challenge that I see is that without the deep (for now) pockets of traditional publishers, indie authors will continue to struggle. Although traditional publishers have amazing teams to produce extremely high quality products, the opportunity for indie authors comes in our being able to control our own careers. We have choice. With knowledge, there is power. In today’s publishing, we could license our print book rights, but retain our ebook rights and publish as we like. We have bargaining power that did not exist a few years ago.

Link to the rest at Ron Vitale

Here’s a link to Ron Vitale’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG doesn’t know Mr. Vitale, but PG does know something about large conglomerates, including publishing conglomerates, pre-internet and internet marketing and technology in general.

Conglomerates are large collections of people and money that are not all the same. Some do reasonably well at attracting capital and running some of their businesses. Others do dumb things all the time.

If you want to rapidly accomplish something innovative, a conglomerate is not the way to go. If you want to attract and keep creative employees, a conglomerate is not the way to go.

No smart entrepreneur tries to start anything inside a conglomerate. Apple would have been killed in the crib inside a conglomerate. So would Amazon and Google.

As a group, publishing conglomerates are among the slowest and least innovative members of the conglomerate class. PG worked for one of the largest (RELX Group, previously known as Reed Elsevier) for three unhappy years and knows of what he speaks.

Specific points mentioned in the OP:

  • Apps such as Crave from big publishers. Do you know how easy it is to build an app? Ten-year-olds build apps. There are over two million apps on Apple’s App Store. PG looked at the most popular book apps on Apple’s App Store. The first page includes a large number of apps. Crave was not among them. Three out of the top five apps were from Amazon.
  • A/B tests for advertising. PG wasn’t one of the Mad Men, but his boss at a very large advertising agency would have qualified. Needless to say, PG’s adventures in advertising occurred centuries ago. A/B tests with advertising were a routine practice during Mad Men days.
  • Sending out ARCs in advance to build reviews online. Publishers have been doing this forever. Smart indie authors have email lists, social media accounts, etc., and use them to do the same thing.

PG agrees with the OP that authors should get together and share ideas, support each other, etc.

However, there’s a key difference when indie authors get together and when traditionally-published authors get together.

When an indie author hears or reads about a great idea for marketing, he/she can implement it immediately and see the results (good or bad) in a few days or weeks by watching their KDP dashboard. When a traditionally-published author hears the same idea, it’s a different experience.

To pirate a saying, an author needs a big publisher like a fish needs a bicycle.

 

Controversial e-book sales tactic banned in Canada

From The Globe and Mail:

Apple Inc.’s long legal struggle over alleged anti-competitive e-book pricing took another turn on Friday as the company joined a consent agreement with Canada’s Competition Bureau that will ban a controversial sales tactic for three years.

Three of Canada’s four major book publishers – Hachette Book Group Inc., Macmillan (a subsidiary of Verlagsgruppe Georg Von Holtzbrinck GmbH) and Simon & Schuster Inc. – also agreed to halt a system known as most-favoured nation (MFN) pricing, which prevented competing retailers from selling e-books at a discount compared to Apple’s minimum price. A Competition Bureau investigation had found that the MFN arrangement between Apple and the publishers led to higher prices for consumers.

There was no financial component to any of the agreements.

But a fourth major publisher – HarperCollins Publishers LLC – failed to reach an agreement, prompting the watchdog to refer the case to the Competition Tribunal, a separate body that adjudicates matters of business, economics and law.

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

Pearson to Sell Stake in Penguin Random House

From Publishers Weekly:

Faced with worse-than-expected results in its North American higher education publishing business, Pearson said this morning that it is putting its 47% stake in Penguin Random House up for sale. Pearson has held its share in PRH since it merged Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House in 2013, with Bertelsmann controlling a 53% stake in the giant trade publisher.

Pearson had been expected to sell its stake in PRH at some point, but the announcement of its decision today came as a surprise, as did the reason why it was putting its share on the market: Pearson’s acknowledgement that operating profits for 2016 will be below expectations and it will not hit is goal of £800 million in operating profits for 2018, the year Pearson said it expected its turnaround efforts to start bearing fruit.

Instead, Pearson reported that sales in the North American higher education market in 2016 were much worse than forecast, particularly in the fourth quarter, when revenue dropped 30% compared to the final period of 2015, leading to an 18% decline in the North American higher education group for 2016. Pearson added that while earlier it had anticipated that the North American higher education market would stabilize in 2017, it now expects further revenue declines in the year.

To meet the lower demand, Pearson said it will accelerate a number of efforts to meet the higher demand for digital products and textbook rentals. The company has already eliminated about 4,000 jobs as part of its effort to create a more streamlined company.

. . . .

Following the Pearson announcement, Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Rabe issued a statement saying the company is “open to increasing our stake in Penguin Random House, provided the financial terms are fair.”

. . . .

It is not clear if Bertelsmann would be interested in acquiring the full stake or only part of Pearson’s share of PRH. Pearson said it wants to divest the full stake.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG’s analysis is as follows:

a. Pearson is having big problems in the educational publishing market.

b. Pearson has decided to get out of the trade publishing market.

c. Pearson plans to stay in the educational publishing market

d. As (almost) half-owner of Penguin Random House, Pearson has access to top PRH executives, highly-detailed financial information about PRH, etc., etc.

e. A huge public announcement like Pearson’s would not have been made without Pearson first talking to Bertelsmann, the other half-owner of PRH, since Bertelsmann would be the obvious purchaser.

f. Bertelsmann has access to top PRH executives, highly-detailed financial information about PRH, etc., etc.

g. Bertelsmann is not anxious to pay very much money to own the rest of PRH.

h. PRH is the largest trade publisher in the world.

From these facts, what can we conclude about the insiders’ view of the future of PRH and, by extension, the future of traditional trade publishing?

Happy talk to the public from top executives and the PR departments are one thing. Words are, of course, cheap.

But when one owner of the largest trade publisher in the world wants to sell out and the other owner isn’t particularly anxious to buy, what does that tell us about what smart money thinks about the future of trade publishing?

From the Guardian:

Books world alarmed by Pearson’s sale of stake in Penguin Random House

Authors and staff have reacted cautiously to news that Pearson is to sell its stake in Penguin Random House (PRH), the world’s biggest publisher and home to some of the most successful brands in books, among them Fifty Shades of Grey, Jamie Oliver and The Girl on the Train.

PRH moved quickly to address fears among staff that the sale of the 47% share to German-owned Bertelsmann would affect jobs. In a statement, global chief executive Markus Dohle promised it would be “business as usual for us”. He added: “Both Pearson and Bertelsmann continue to be very supportive of our strategy and our success, and both have been valued shareholders for us.”

. . . .

Authors and staff told the Guardian of fears that the takeover by the German-owned media corporation could lead to further consolidation at the publishing house, which is responsible for one in four books sold and the sale of 800m paper, digital and audiobooks every year.

One bestselling author, who asked not to be named, said the company was “in pretty good shape” but: “You always worry that any added pressure to streamline the business will narrow its publishing focus further.”

Echoing the concerns of other writers the Guardian spoke to, she added: “For any author, you are only as good as your last book, so it’s a worry you could be vulnerable when things like this happen.”

. . . .

Staff remained jumpy, according to insiders. “We knew it was going to happen,” said one senior executive. “But we don’t know what will happen now. Hopefully we will be OK.” Another said: “This sort of thing always makes people nervous, but especially so after what happened.”

Link to the rest at the Guardian

The Trade, Its Resilience, and Its Data

From Publishing Perspectives:

In its opening on Tuesday, the eighth annual Digital Book World conference in New York City attracted some 650 registrants.

. . . .

[I]t was interesting to hear Macmillan CEO John Sargent say as he opened his keynote that when conference attendees were asked to submit questions ahead of the event, “Oddly enough, almost none of the questions had anything to do with digital—here at Digital Book World.”

This had played into what Sargent wanted to say, however, about the abiding thrust of the industry’s work. While he sees “a bit of hand-wringing, still, on the digital dark side,” seven years into the digital disruption of publishing, “ink-and-paper books continue to be the favorite, not only the way for the population as a whole but for our kids to read.”

In terms of digital sales, Sargent said, “Ebook growth has stopped, and it has stopped before it forced book retailers out of the business, as it did music and video” retailers.

“All this doesn’t mean that we’re through the transition to digital” yet, Sargent cautioned. “And there are certainly many, many dangers ahead.”

What he called “the good news and the bad news” is the rise of the self-publishing sector . . . . It’s growing through Amazon Kindle Unlimited,” he said. “We don’t know how big it is, but we know it’s very big. And what it tells us [is that] there is plenty of reading going on out there.”

. . . .

In listing more hurdles, Sargent said “There are fewer and fewer newspapers out there, and their audiences are shrinking. Discovery is an ever-growing problem. Big titles get bigger, and everything else gets harder and harder to find and sells fewer and fewer copies. Retail power is consolidating.”

But publishing, Sargent said, is an “instinctual business” exemplified that “no algorithm could have predicted that a book by the least popular president of our time, George Bush, would outsell a book by the most popular president of our time, Ronald Reagan. That happened.”

Still, despite the importance of gut instinct, many decisions made in publishing “can be improved,” Sargent said, “by using data, in every aspect of our business from supply chain and workflows to editorial acquisitions.”

Sargent mentioned Macmillan’s acquisition of Pronoun, a self-publishing platform, as a way of getting closer to data-driven decisions and self-publishing. One reason for the acquisition, he said, is to gather data and “insights into the self-publishing model and how it works.”

In an observation on the comparative advantages the industry has over “our friends in Seattle,” he asserted that “as a community, we can do better” in terms of marketing.

But he also conceded that the smartest decisions in that regard haven’t always been on view: “We’ve pissed away millions of dollars over the years on ads on the back page of The New York Times to sell eight more books.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG says a bit of tweaking around the edges won’t save Big Publishing.

Not knowing anything about self-publishing, not only the size of the market but why authors choose that market, would be an unforgivable blind spot in any reality-based industry.

Why are print sales up? Data Guy gives his reason—and it isn’t adult coloring books

From TeleRead:

Perhaps the reason print book sales are on the rise has nothing to do with coloring books, digital fatigue, the “ebook fad” or book store appeal. Data Guy has offered a different reason based on the data he has scraped for Author Earnings.

To start, independent book store sales are up 5 percent from 2015, but the rest of the brick and mortar stores are down 5 percent, on average. However, the industry is up 15 percent as a whole with the difference coming from Amazon.

Data Guy states that the real reason print sales are up is because a change in how Amazon priced its titles. In 2015, discounts on ebooks for large traditional publishers was eliminated. In turn, Amazon discounted the prices of print books in mid-2015 – and that’s where we see the change in print sales.

To break down the data even further, when Amazon discounted sales in some of the spring and summers months, sale units on print books were up 7 percent. However, when it scaled back its discounts just a few short months later, the overall percentage of unit sales also dropped and at the end of the year, the industry saw an increase of just 3.3 percent from a year before.

Data Guy surmises that the question really shouldn’t be about print vs. digital. People want to read, and they are going to do it in ways that are easiest and convenient for them. This bigger question is brick and mortar vs. online sales. Online sales are ever increasing with Amazon taking the bulk of the sales.

Because we are currently seeing online sales wallop brick and mortar unit sales, he said about two-third of traditionally published adult books are bought online.

Link to the rest at TeleRead and thanks to Nate for the tip.

For the book business, VMI in warehouses might happen before VMI in stores

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

The sales-and-returns convention by which most books are sold by most publishers to their retail and wholesale accounts is too often described as “consignment”. It actually isn’t. Actual consignment terms would give us a quite different supply chain, and we may be closer than most people imagine to shifting to it.

Although major trade accounts do purchase their stock from publishers with the rights to return unsold stock for full (or nearly full) credit, this is quite different from true consignment in a number of ways.

1. The publisher’s customer is on the hook for at least some freight cost for shipping the goods. Most customers would pay the shipping cost to receive the books in the first place and almost all would pay the cost to send them back.

2. For almost all their customers, the publishers are paid faster than the customer recovers their investment (which would be by selling to the end customer for a retailer or by selling to and then collecting from the next holder of the inventory or a final customer for a wholesaler). So the publisher receives cash which is an actual capital investment by their customer. True consignment would not require that investment.

3. Because the retailer or wholesaler is providing the capital investment for the books on the store or warehouse shelf, the customer decides on prices and quantities. The publisher has to “sell” the customer on parting with some of their limited funds for inventory investment. True “consignment” would see the publisher deliver the inventory (pay the freight) to the customer and, if they subsequently wanted it returned, pay the freight to bring it back. The customer would be responsible for receiving the inventory, shelving it, paying for anything sold or lost, and packing it back up when asked to return it. But it wouldn’t be commercially practical for the account to determine titles and quantities if they were at no risk or penalty for taking in excess stock. Overstocking, which ultimately would require the publisher to overprint and eat inventory on every title, would be routine if the accounts decided what to receive on consignment. If there’s no cost, why should they risk being out of stock?

So, if the terms were “true” consignment, where the inventory risk and investment remained with the publisher, it would also require that the publisher decide on the titles and quantities to be consigned.

. . . .

This is a topic worth considering because we as an industry could be on the cusp of switching to this kind of commercial arrangement. For publishers today there are three major accounts which drive the business for most of them: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram. Amazon has had an “Advantage” program for years that entices smaller publishers to offer consignment terms. Barnes & Noble has, with limited success, been pushing publishers toward consignment inventory in their distribution centers for years. And Ingram already holds a ton of consigned inventory through its largest-in-the-industry distribution business. They are already a very progressive company and would undoubtedly see the benefits of consignment for all their wholesale inventory as well.

. . . .

From the accounts’ (Amazon, B&N, Ingram) perspective, there are two big “risks” in going to consignment and ceding the inventory decisions to publishers. The less expensive one is that they might actually have to physically hold (warehouse, but not invest in) more books to achieve the same sales level. I say “might” because the publisher could conceivably operate with leaner inventory on many of the fastest-moving titles when replenishment inventory can be supplied without the bureaucratic need to get to a buyer and get an order.

The more serious risk would be of not having books that would sell that their own buyers would have put on their shelves. But, of course, any publisher would want to put in the most likely to sell, so as long as the account didn’t totally lose its ability to know what it could sell, that information could find its way to the buying decisions.

This all boils down to the practice of “demand planning”, which could also be called “sales predicting”.

. . . .

For Barnes & Noble, the information the publisher has about its own marketing efforts and how the book is doing in general in reviews and in cyber-discussion — or even how it is selling in other locations in the marketplace — is almost always secondary to internal B&N merchandising information. Is the book on model stock, an automated reorder capability where the sale of a copy triggers replenishment? Is the book displayed prominently in the stores, or, at the other extreme, is it in the stores at all? Is the book distributed across all geographies and store sizes? All of these elements have a big impact on the demand B&N distribution centers will see, whatever the other signals say about a title’s inherent appeal and marketing experience.

. . . .

There are few, if any, publishers today who are equipped to make the decisions to manage consignment inventory effectively at their accounts’ warehouses. But there are compelling reasons for the industry to shift to doing things that way. Fortunately, doing many of the right things will come naturally to the publishers if the tables get turned. It takes instinct more than genius to keep quantities lean if you’re on the hook for the freight in and out and you don’t need anybody’s permission to ship more copies in when they’re needed.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

What the (bleep) just happened to the publishing industry?

From Blasting News:

Last week, HarperCollins announced that it would halt sales of Monica Crowley’s 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened”, after CNN discovered the author had plagiarized material from numerous columnists and journalists. As a result of the controversy, Crowley announced on Monday that she will not be taking the position she had been offered by President-elect Donald Trump, as strategic communications director of the National Security Council.

. . . .

While Crowley did the right thing by turning down the job offer, she faced a week’s worth of media flagellation for her lapse of judgment. But one question nobody seems to be asking is this– how on earth did a major publishing house like HarperCollins miss not one, not two, but (according to CNN) fifty incidences of plagiarism in a single book?

Let me repeat that. Fifty. As in half of a hundred. As in a pretty darn substantial percentage of the book’s overall word count.

And let me repeat the name of the publisher once again– that’s the illustrious HarperCollins.

. . . .

Surely a company with operations in 18 countries and thousands of employees assigned Crowley an army of proofreaders, fact-checkers and editors. And yet we’re expected to believe that, somewhere along the line, 50 instances of plagiarism escaped everyone’s notice? There is something very, very wrong with that picture and strangest of all is the fact that HarperCollins offered no in-depth explanation– just a short statement that they’re yanking Monica Crowley’s book.

. . . .

Most people don’t realize the grueling labor that goes into writing a book. Actually, the writing itself is the easiest part. It’s what goes on after the publisher decides to accept your manuscript that makes you grind your teeth to powder. My last book took about three months to write, and about fifteen months to produce. It was published by a small publisher, yet I was assigned a proofreader, editor, marketing intern and even a cover designer. Ditto for my first book, put out by an even smaller publisher. If these companies, with one millionth of the resources as a Big Five publisher can spot one case of plagiarism, why can’t HarperCollins spot fifty?

It definitely makes you wonder about the state of the publishing industry.

Link to the rest at Blasting News and thanks to Dave for the tip.

The publishing business is a business

From USA Today:

Simon & Schuster is publishing a book by Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart News right-wing provocateur, and for that has been roundly cursed by liberals, and accordingly mounted a free speech defense.

Buzzfeed published the dossier of unverified charges against soon-to-be President Trump and was roundly attacked by Trump partisans, and, as well left many journalists, to say the least, uncomfortable. The site took to the talk shows to makes its case for open information.

In a not unrelated development, Facebook, widely criticized for its willing, if unwitting, distribution of fake news, has announced new, if not particularly convincing, measures to develop ways to qualify its content.

The same question is at the heart of each of these media tempests: how much is a publisher responsible for what it publishes?

The traditional view, at least since publishing, in the late Victorian age, became a money-making and therefore respectable industry, is that if you publish it, you own it. You were not only legally responsible for it, but it firmly attached to your reputation. This led to protocols about editing, fact checking, and the development of a long cannon of journalism standards and ethics. It also led to the idea of publishing brands. What you published defined you in the community and in the marketplace.

. . . .

The Yiannopoulos book is a particularly good example of the breakdown of this view. Book imprints were once the staunchest cultural gatekeepers, with issues of taste and sales closely twinned, and with the decision to publish resting, often, on a small group of editors, or even on a single shoulder. You knew who was responsible. But then a massive consolidation of the business occurred, mixing and mashing brands, and, with new financial dictates, in essence, commoditizing books.

Any book that makes financial sense to publish, no matter its nature, will, practically speaking, be published by any publisher. Beyond a book’s financial bona fides, there is no real vetting, or editing, or concerns about taste. Most of the book industry is now a business focused on creating products—often novelty products connected to a celebrity—for specific market segments.

Link to the rest at USA Today and thanks to Andrew for the tip.

You Can Write a Best-Seller and Still Go Broke

From Slate:

In 2012, a month after the publication of her memoir, Wild [Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail], Cheryl Strayed was on a book tour, soaking up the wonder of her first big success as an author, when her husband texted her to say that their rent check had bounced. “We couldn’t complain to anyone,” Strayed told Manjula Martin, editor of the new anthology Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living: “My book is on the New York Times best-seller list right now and we do not have any money in our checking account.”

Few connections are more mysterious than the one between writing books and making money. Strayed most definitely did make money on Wild, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film with Reese Witherspoon, but she didn’t get her first royalty check for it until 2013, “so it was almost a year before my life actually changed.” Yes, there was that $400,000 advance—an amount to make any aspiring memoirist’s eyes go dreamily unfocused—but Strayed and her husband had run up so much credit card debt that almost all of the money went to paying it off and supporting her family while she finished writing the book. Book advances, which are advances against the royalties that will be earned after the book is published, aren’t forked out in one lump sum, either. The payments come parceled out in (typically) three or four checks paid on signing the contract, on delivery of the manuscript, and on publication. The writer’s literary agent then takes a percentage of that. When Strayed sold her first novel a few years earlier for the seemingly handsome sum of $100,000, the advance amounted to, as she puts it, “about $21,000 a year over the course of four years, and I paid a third of that to the IRS … it was like getting a grant every year for four years. But it wasn’t enough to live off.”

It’s worth leading with all these numbers because, as Scratch repeatedly demonstrates, the nitty-gritty on this stuff is in short supply in the wider writerly imagination, while fantasy, evasion, and envious brooding runneth over. Strayed is among the few prospering contributors to this collection of essays and interviews who speaks so explicitly. (“We’re only hurting ourselves as writers by being so secretive about money,” she told Martin.) Another is Roxane Gay—author, columnist, editor, publisher, professor, public speaker—who reports that she made approximately $150,000 in 2014. That’s a good income by almost any standard, but does it match your sense of Gay’s prominence and productivity? (Surely there are plenty of professors who make that much, or more, from their academic work alone.) Depending on your media diet, Gay may or may not constitute a “famous writer” in your eyes, and depending on how much you think famous writers must earn, her income may strike you as surprisingly modest. Or perhaps this entire topic offends you. There are still a few idealists out there cherishing the belief that writing, as art, mustn’t be contaminated by filthy lucre.

. . . .

If they are novelists (or—God forbid!—poets), they almost always rely on teaching for steady income. What they teach, for the most part, is writing; that is, as none of the contributors has quite the nerve to state baldly, in order to support themselves, they train others to do the work that isn’t providing them with a viable living. At times, the entire fiction-writing profession resembles a pyramid scheme swathed in a dewy mist of romantic yearning. Many of these essays begin with wry descriptions of the author’s youthful madness in moving to New York or throwing away a dependable day job or career path to “be a writer,” a phrase that often connotes earning enough money to live by writing alone. Yet this is never a simple transaction. For authors, money, however obscurely, is always entangled with legitimacy because writers have for centuries equated publication with professional and artistic anointment.

It’s indeed a significant testimonial when someone else wants to invest their own money in a writer’s work, so it’s easy to forget that a publisher is actually the writer’s business partner, not a conferrer of literary worth. In their candid moments, most publishers will admit going into business with writers whose work they regard as subliterary because they believe that they can profit from their books. This is still considered shocking in some unsophisticated quarters, but publishing isn’t literature: Literature is literature. Publishing is a separate, if related enterprise.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Print Book Sales Rose Again in 2016

From Publishers Weekly:

Despite a less-than-ideal environment—no breakout bestsellers on the adult fiction side and a lengthy, brutal election cycle that sucked nearly all of the air out of the cultural conversation—unit sales of print books were up 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Total print unit sales hit 674 million, marking the third-straight year of growth, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 80% of print sales in the U.S.

Most print formats had an outstanding year, with hardcover up 5.4%, trade paperback up 4%, and board books up 7.4%. Mass market has been on the wane since the introduction of e-books, and its slide continued in 2016 with a 7.7% drop in unit sales. Physical audio, where sales were down 13.5% on the year, also took a big hit from digital.

The largest gains came in the adult nonfiction category, where sales were up 6.9% from 2015. Several subcategories posted substantial increases, among them crafts and hobbies, where the adult coloring book boom—though slowing down from 2015’s blitz—continues to have a large impact. The religion and self-help areas also saw boosts, though for different reasons. Several big-name religion authors published new titles last year and racked up six-figure sales (Pope Francis, Lysa Terkeurst, Sarah Young), whereas backlist powered the self-help category: of the top five self-help titles, only one, Angela Duckworth’s Grit, was published in 2016.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Execs foresee leaven 2017

From The Bookseller:

Book trade executives are optimistic and bullish about 2017, despite the political uncertainty of Brexit, looming European elections and Donald Trump taking up office in the US this month.

Publishing chief executives, leading agents and booksellers have given their predictions for the year ahead, with the overall outlook positive on the back of a second consecutive year of rising print sales.

Opportunities for the trade include an increase in export sales following a decline in the value of the pound, desire to read deeper non-fiction books in a so-called “post-truth world” heralding a “golden era” for the genre and the continuing boom in audio book sales –with Hacehtte UK chief executive Tim Hely Hutchinson predicting a 25% year-on-year growth in the format in 2017.

Ethnic diversity numbers will increase across the industry, foresees Pan Mac c.e.o Anthony Forbes Watson and the trade will then turn its head towards economic diversity in its staff. HarperCollins’ c.e.o Charlie Redmayne believes that the diversity initiatives of 2016 will continue in 2017, “fundamentally changing the look of our industry and the books which we produce – ultimately growing our businesses and making us more relevant to the society in which we live”.

Meanwhile, the perennial quest of how to reach new readers in an unpredictable age will be the focus for Penguin Random House’s chief Tom Weldon.

. . . .

While most are optimistic about the year ahead, there are some who are concerned about its prospects, particularly taking into account wider political events.

“Anyone who is optimistic about a world where a homophobic, racist, lying braggart is the president of the most powerful country in the world, and where Britain deserts its friends and allies in Europe is missing the greater part of their cerebral cortex,” according Profile’s c.e.o Andrew Franklin.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG is not terribly impressed by the methods these experts utilize to forecast future book sales.

Ritually slaughtering an animal and examining its entrails might produce more accurate results.

Self publishing is about self respect, not vanity

From author Darcy Conroy via Medium:

As a woman, a writer and recently published author, I read Kamila Shamsie’s “provocation” calling for 2018 to be a year of publishing only women with great interest. I admit that my gut response to the headline was one of concern — Do we really need to exclude male authors? — but I know headlines can be misleading so I read on with an open mind. Her summary of statistics showing that the publishing industry is not serving women well was familiar. I need no convincing that we are second-class citizens in the publishing industry as writers, readers and even characters, so when she began her crescendo toward her challenge, I was right there with her.

“Enough. Across the board, enough. Let’s agree that things have improved over the last 50 years, even over the last 20, and then let’s start to ask why. Was it simply the passage of time? Should we all sit around while the world continues on its slow upward trend towards equality? Or should we step outside that fictional narrative of progress and ask what actually helped to change literary culture in the UK? Two things come to mind: the literary presses of the 70s, of which Virago is the most notable; and the women’s prize for fiction. In part, what both the presses and the prize did was to create a space for women in a male-dominated world, giving voice and space to those who wouldn’t find them elsewhere.”

Yes! I thought. We do need to take example from the suffragettes, we do need to stop being so polite and seize our own power, raise our voices and… That’s when she lost me. Because what Shamsie suggested we raise our voices to say to the publishing industry was, essentially, “Please let us in. You’re being unfair. Just for one year without any boys in the way and see if the readers like us. It doesn’t have to be right away, 2018 is fine, but give us a go? Please?”

I don’t see the spirit of the independent presses of the 70s and 80s in that. What I see is a spirit of dependence on an industry that infantilizes writers, making them grateful for any morsel of approval and attention, convincing them that a publishing house is the only way to ‘real’ publication.

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Here’s a link to Darcy Conroy’s book. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.