Co-op and aggressive distribution still have value, but there are fewer outlets for them. Free and downpricing still help, but they rarely put a book over the top now. Meanwhile free promotion (at least it’s free if you don’t put a value on your time) like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and others have yet to deliver meaningful results unless you’re able to amass a huge following. At The Story Plant, we’re spending more and more money on advertising and publicity trying to get particular titles to pop. Meanwhile, we’ve just hired someone whose entire job is to talk about our books online all day (it’s more complicated than that, but you get the point).
I’m not sure how much of an appetite any individual writer has for spending this kind of money to boost sales. There’s another option, though: collaboration. Here, I’m talking about coalitions of writers promoting each other. There are some very supportive loops out there, and I’m guessing we’re going to see some very creative solutions to this issue. I think collaborative and coalition marketing is going to be a huge movement in publishing over the next few years.
Then there’s the matter of the bookseller. Overwhelmingly, book sales are online now, for both print books and, of course, e-books. The mechanics of online bookselling are materially different from the mechanics of selling in physical bookstores, and what helps a book sell in these outlets is also different. Online booksellers offer great royalty rates to self-published authors, but what they don’t offer is access to their most valuable sales programs. You need to have a publisher account to have a chance at those. It’s possible that this will change, but there’s an excellent chance it won’t. What this means is that, unless you’re working with a publisher, you might never get the bookseller push that puts you over the top. The Big Six are still being very careful about the sizes of their lists (though that’s loosening up on the digital side), so this is an issue.
However, there’s an emerging class of independent publishers–with either their own bookseller accounts or accounts through distributors–that are acquiring books and interested in working collaboratively with writers.
Marianna has been doing a great job of profiling several of these in Nink and will continue to do so throughout the year.
I think the next phase of publishing is going to be about entities working in concert from the point at which a writer writes the final line of his or her manuscript. Not to make this letter seem like a long commercial for the NINC conference, but this is exactly what we’re going to be talking about the entire time. It’s even in our title: Profitable Partnerships. We’re putting together quite a roster of people to address this.
How we work together to achieve success is in my opinion the most important conversation for us to be having. I look forward to having it with you in October, but I also look forward to having it with you before then on the NINC loop.
As always, you can reach me at email@example.com.
French Say Oui to Google?
An agreement has been struck between Google and French authors and publishers that allows publishers and authors to determine what will be available to Google. The deal comes just before Google plans to file a motion in the ongoing Author Guild suit claiming that its book-scanning program falls under the definition of “fair use.” Would it be an understatement to say that this is going to get interesting?
Redhook is Now a New Imprint of Hachette’s Orbit Division
The new imprint will offer one or two titles a month, published in all formats. The imprint is to fill out the division, offering science fiction and fantasy as well as manga and graphic fiction from Yen Press. The first title published by the imprint will be Robert Lyndon’s Hawk Quest, which will be released in April 2013.