Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/07/2015

The Parallel Universe of Publishing


In the traditional or conventional publishing world, there is more and more ‘dark matter’ flying around that it cannot control or measure. This dark matter is generated by the ever-increasing and evolving digital or ebook side of the publishing universe; AND, since traditional publishing (TP) cannot control or measure all the new digital data with the old paper-related devices such as ‘rights’ management (that’s “precisely what DRM represents: an absurd and pathetic attempt to recreate in the digital realm a command-and-control system that profits off the characteristics of *paper*”) then TP simply makes statements such as “digital or ebooks are down or losing sales.”

Truth is, TP cannot ‘measure’ all this increasing ‘dark matter’ that holds much more favorable digital data. So their statistics are skewed or inaccurate based on incomplete data.

Talk about publishing intrigue!

Len Epp, a contributor to TechCrunch, delves into this dark matter in detail in tonight’s research/resource article:

 

On The Dark Matter Of The Publishing Industry

Key excerpts:

“Recently there were a pair of revealing eruptions in the world of ebooks and the volatile book publishing industry more generally.

The first was the announced demise of Oyster, an ebook subscription startup based in New York and backed by $17 million in VC funding.

While the announcement of Oyster’s shutdown is remarkable for its lack of transparency, apparently after its sun sets, Oyster’s excellent e-book reader expertise will be transferred to Google in the form of its founders and probably some of its tech or even the entire company, but perhaps not its pricey ebook contracts with publishers.”

“Now, there were some very smart people backing Oyster, and I suspect that a) they correctly saw that awesome tech would succeed in driving ebook reading, b) they had some kind of plan to monetize their user base, but ran into the common problem of being unable to finance a longer runway than they hoped for, which happened because c) their West Coast-y VC-style optimism prevented them from fully internalizing the willfully destructive, cynical recalcitrance of the incumbent publishers who, perhaps knowing what they were doing, forced Oyster into senseless, self-sabotaging ebook contracts.”

“There was more bad, meaning good, news to come. The next day, the New York Times gleefully reported that ebook sales were down in general. The surprising news was predictably greeted with what Mathew Ingram memorably called “a whiff of anti-digital Schadenfreude”.

Problem was, the news wasn’t just untrue, it was obviously untrue.”

“Essentially, the numbers the New York Times article was based on were limited to just 1,200 publishers, all of them being what is euphemistically referred to as “traditional” publishers — meaning “doorstopper” paper codex publishers whose business is essentially composed of a highly structured web of legal arrangements that historically evolved to maximize profit from the various physical characteristics of, you guessed it, the paper codex.”

“It was like the “traditional” publishing industry just pretended the ebooks being traded outside its own grumpy universe didn’t exist, because their “traditional” methods of tracking couldn’t see them.”

Open the door into the rest of the dark matter and publishing intrigue in The Parallel Universe of Publishing.

 

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11/08/2015

The Printed Book – The Latest On Its Fate


                       Printed Books – Here to Stay?

In the continuing development of the ‘evolving publishing industry’, as in the evolution of ANY industry or of the world, itself, for that matter, there are going to be growth spurts and plateaus.

And when either one of these phenomena occur, speculation runs rampant Re why – and all kinds of predictions materialize running all the way from Armageddon of a product (e.g. the printed book) to the newest replacement product (e.g. the ebook)!

The truth of the matter is neither of these book platforms are going anywhere – In fact, more hitherto unknown platforms will be marching onto the publishing stage in the future AND the future thereafter 🙂

What is and will be happening is the acceptance of existing and new publishing products will be integrated, massaged and utilized by different demographic areas at different times.

Tonight’s research article outlines one such current ‘state of the printed book’ forecast; with a little of its history thrown in for good measure:

 

The Past, Present and Future of the Printed Book

By Anuj Srivas as printed in The Wire

Hear that? That’s the sound of Johannes Gutenberg rolling in his grave. Amazon, the very company that has done the most to disrupt the industry surrounding the printing press, has opened a physical bookstore.

Dustin Kurtz over at New Republic has a great review of what the company is billing as a “brick-and-mortar store without walls”: Amazon Books, located just outside a shopping mall named University Village in Seattle, comes with the company’s touch; reviews, ratings and all. Books are organised into stacks such as “Most Wish-listed Cookbooks”, customers can look at online reviews while physically browsing a book and the price of all inventory is determined by Amazon’s online algorithm, the one used for the company’s website.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that Amazon has finally opened a bookstore. The store’s existence shows us how developments in the publishing industry, which has often confused business analysts, have come full circle over the past ten years.

The all-too-familiar tale of digital disruption that we’ve seen play out in television (Netflix), transportation (Uber/Ola Cabs), accommodation (Airbnb) and music (iTunes, Spotify) hasn’t quite applied to the printed word. This isn’t to suggest, however, that Amazon is throwing in the towel and plans to open any more bookstores, or even pursue it as a serious strategy; only that the march of technological progress hasn’t followed its usual course.

Read the entire article here.

 

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02/15/2014

A Current View of the Publishing Revolution


It’s always been extremely hard for the outsider analyst (or any other uninitiated person of interest) to gather unit sales figures for books — Why? Simply because book sale data are secret. This nontransparency is not true of any other media outlet – only books.

However, some book and publishing industry entrepreneurs (and authorpreneurs) have devised their own analytical models based on certain assumptions and have produced some fairly logical conclusions RE unit book sales.

Now enters an author and publishing pro with a high level understanding of advanced programming who has designed software that supposedly grabs all this secret unit sales book data from online bestseller lists. With this data, more accurate charts with some interesting numbers can be produced (such as the one at left).

Let’s dive into these figures a little more with tonight’s great source reference article published on io9.com with exceptional links and comments from readers (sorry, I can’t link this site. Just paste io9.com into your address bar):

This chart ought to make the publishing industry very nervous

Wool author Hugh Howey has been beating the drum for self-publishing for a long time — but now he claims to have data to back it up. His new report on author earnings contains some startling figures, but none more so than the above chart showing indie authors beating traditional publishers on unit sales.

As Howey himself admits, the data in his new “Author Earnings” report is incomplete at best, because publishers and booksellers (including Amazon) don’t release raw book sales figures. You can find out exactly how much a movie made in its opening weekend, and how many people supposedly watched last night’s TV shows — but book sale data is secret.

According to Howey, this new data comes from “an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data.” The data all appears to be just for Amazon, which means you have to trust Amazon’s accuracy on top of the accuracy of crunching the numbers. And there’s also the fact that looking at unit sales is possibly misleading — if you sell 1,000 copies of a book at $1 each, you might be getting way more unit sales than an ebook going for $10 each, but the revenue will still be low.

But Howey also includes some charts that claim to break down author income by publishing type, and they show a number of self-published authors making hundreds of thousands, or even over a million, dollars per year.

Howey adds:

Research article continues here

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01/18/2014

Despite Gadgets, Content (Letters and words) is Still King – And Content Creators are Kingmakers!


Publishing Guru Bo Sacks

The latest bunch of hot, new, tech gadgets has just marched forth from CES (The International CES is a global consumer electronics and consumer technology trade show that takes place every January in Las Vegas, Nevada) — and some will affect publishing even further, just as 3D covers, shopping inside the pages of a digital issue, stand alone apps, etc., have in the recent present and past.

But, regardless of the bells and whistles of the new tech, they are just bows tied around what is being presented: CONTENT. And, if the letters and words do not engage, entertain, educate or offer some other value/interest, the newness and fascination of the bells and whistles will diminish fast.

Hence, content is STILL the bottom line — No matter which tech embroidered platform spouts it forth.

Today, publishers are presented with so many opportunities and innovations they often get overwhelmed and don’t know what to prioritize first. Readers, on the other hand, get so much free info and data offered that they get ‘information overload’.

Many feel that publishing’s main problem revolves around the fracas between digital and print.

However, one expert (who I will present tonight) believes ‘the real problem is diversity and fragmentation of our readership‘.

So, what does this mean?

Tonight’s source article from  of ClickZ is an interview with publishing industry guruBo Sacks. The interview delves into this concept of readership fragmentation due to new tech and what it means to publishers today:

Publishing Industry Guru Bo Sacks Shares Tips for 2014 Success

Hot off the heels of innovations and connected devices galore at CES, publishers have a world of opportunity in front of them. There’s so much opportunity it can often get difficult to decide what to prioritize first. For some insights and advice on 2014, we go straight to the ultimate expert in publisher success and sustainability: Bo Sacks.

JM: With so many innovations launching, (including the rise of content marketing), do publishers really need to think differently about the way they do business? Or, is all of this just noise?

Bo: The concept that “isn’t it really all the same as it ever was” is at the heart of the problem for all publishers. Many perceive that the whole problem just revolves around the battle between paper vs. digital substrates. That concept has distracted most professionals and isn’t at the core of the issue.

The real problem is diversity and fragmentation of our readership. And there are two factors going on here.

  1. Ease: There is just too much easy access to the a world of information. We all hold robust communication devices in our hands formally known as smartphones. These communicators empower anyone one to access information either on the fly on in the comfort of their own home. These instant portable electronic librarians offer the reading public limitless reading opportunities where none existed before. So we are reading more now than ever before, but not on traditional substrates.
  2. Mass: Publishers were once the best businesses at identifying groups and niches and selling them words and related materials based on their specific interest. What technology has done is to separate and disperse our old niches into sub-set camps of platform devotees. Where once Meredith had all of America’s housewives locked up in reading a single printed magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, now even the niche of housewife’s is broken into smaller subsets, as iPad reader, Kobo Reader, Kindle reader, and paper reader. This has broken the former single straight line to the reader into readers with multiple personalities, different needs and assorted commercial desires.

Article continues here — And you know you want to complete this publishing insight 🙂

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11/03/2013

Self-Publishing – Is it Meaningful or Not?


Meaningful? How would I know?

Meaningful? How would I know?

Is self-publishing meaningful? Depends on what you mean by meaningful? And meaningful to whom? That makes sense.

Self-publishing has gained respectability, earned fans, made authors known, got many more books in front of many more readers AND earned mega-bucks for a ‘few’.

For most writers/authors, however, the money from self-publishing is NOT pouring in — BUT, their books are being read by many more readers than they would have under previous model/s.

For that matter, the money from traditionally published books did not pour in for most writers/authors either — since, under the traditional pub model, 10% of the authors earned 75% of the royalties 🙂

So, the stats are not significantly different between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

The following 10 minute video titled ‘Can self-publishing ever be meaningful’ with speaker Steven Lewis, a self-published author and digital media strategist with a sense of humor, delves into more self-publishing stats and fills out the word ‘meaningful’:

 

 

 

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10/26/2013

IDEAlliance (The International Digital Enterprise Alliance) Seeks Standardization for Mobile Magazine Publishing


IDEAllianceStandardization, or an open format, that allows publishing across all mobile formats with one application at the same time has been achieved (pretty much) for book publishing in the ePub specification.

But, one does not yet exist for the more difficult magazine publishing — more difficult due to a magazines demand for more imagery, graphics, layout, etc.

Why all this attention to mobile publishing? Simply because tablets, e-readers and iPads are replacing desktop computers as the consumer’s choice to access content.

The IDEAlliance is working with players throughout the supply chain to standardize tablet edition formats to simplify the process of tablet issue production by eliminating many of the competing formats and workflows.

The following details are from FOLIO magazine:

Cutting Through the Mire of Tablet Issue Production

“Each publisher has approached tablets at its own pace, with its own purpose. The result has left a scattered set of protocols across the industry.

The goal is an industry standard called OpenEFT — guidelines to direct the packaging, delivery and display of digital magazines for everyone in the ecosystem. OpenEFT’s final draft was unveiled late last month.

“We, as publishers, would like to be able to provide a designed-for-tablet, interactive edition to all the newsstands,” says Sean Keefe, executive director of publishing technology for Hearst Magazines. “But right now, not all of them take the same file formats.” 

The benefits for publishers are twofold. Tablet issue production would become a more efficient process, while the barriers to third-party innovation would be lowered.

Tablet issue production is currently convoluted. Hearst currently produces up to three formats (and several variants) of its magazines, depending on the brand and the newsstand they’re working with; Next Issue Media, a digital newsstand, is forced to adapt about six formats for its storefront. Many of those conversions are labor intensive and require quality assurance testing at multiple points.

Ideally, says Keith Barraclough, CTO and vice president of products for Next Edition, the exchange of files would be simplified, QA would only be needed once and the process would be automated.

“Whether OpenEFT can do all this as it goes through its standardization process and tools and manufacturers come along and adopt, that’s all a big ‘TBD’,” he says. “But hat’s the nirvana we’re looking for.”

An open specification already exists, called ePub, but it was built to handle books, not magazines.

“The orientation toward imagery, layout and the subtlety of the navigation of a magazine is something that’s evolved more,” Barraclough says.

While Dianne Kennedy, vice president of emerging technologies for IDEAlliance, says OpenEFT is closely modeled after ePub, she adds that the need for tablet-optimized ad units is another major reason the book-centric format needed to be tweaked for digital magazines.

Magazine staff have to manipulate the units from the agency, often without being exactly sure of how the final product was supposed to render. The costs and confusion make their use rare.

“Magazines, unlike books, rely a lot on the ad model,” Kennedy says. “There is no specification for the exchange and rendering of this interactive content, so the magazines have been limiting the number of interactive ads they will accept.”

Regardless of how or why they started with tablet editions, publishers will agree that improving production efficiency is beneficial.

Now, it’s up to them to adopt the standard.”

OpenEFT Design Principles

Here are a few of OpenEFT’s 13 design principles:

– Must be based on industry standards

– Must not cause major disruption to existing tablet publishing workflows

– Must support enhancement types that are common across 2013 tablet editions

– Must consider the advertizing workflow and integration of advertizing

– Should be designed so that highly-designed publications, other than magazines, can adopt this format

– Must design for the future by embracing emerging technologies

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05/26/2013

Traditional Publishers’ Disinterest of Innovative Print Technologies Results in a Slow Death of ‘Print’


Weighing ‘Print’

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According to some highly educated and deeply experienced media professionals, traditional publishers are their own worst enemies Re the growing demise of print media. Perhaps TP’s have run away from print too early and not invested in new print technologies that are apparently begging to be expanded upon.

Even the “loss of physical books I can hold in my hand and smell” lamenting has not been enough to instill innovation in the present set of TP management to bring ‘print’ into the 21st century.

Tonight I’m introducing one of those highly educated/experienced personages mentioned above:

Andreas Weber , educated at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat Mainz (Germany) — And Mainz, if you haven’t already guessed, is where the university’s famous namesake, who invented the first printing press, came from.

Key excerpts from Andreas to whet your appetite:

“However, the modern print-publisher is lacking vision and power for change. Though, over more then a generation ago specific solutions have been approached. Back then, in various places throughout the world, people developed the idea of revolutionising communication with media. IT, Web and print were seen as an integral part of a new communication culture.”

“Digital and analogue media don‘t contradict but build a new intermedia hybrid system.”

“The publishing industry is lacking contemporary ideas and motivation to innovate its core business with print, which is driven by digital communication technologies. Instead, they run behind on development and focus on third parties and their communication channels, which are used by publishers as ‘their new media’ to advertise in the old fashioned way.”

“Even though publishers are present in the digital world via apps and websites there is no innovative progress insight. If Google wouldn‘t bring the traffic and Apple wouldn‘t have given a platform via the iPad there would be no perspective on the subject of ‘digital content by
traditional publishers’.”

“Assuming printing is digital. Print and online are linked and form one unit. The targeted print media production is a just-in-time production. Print media products are created based on automated processes. Printed content will become more relevant, if it is customised to the customer’s request.”

“The publishing industry is lacking contemporary ideas and motivation to innovate its core business with print, which is driven by digital communication technologies.”

Now, this from Andreas Weber in Graphic Repro & Print:

News from Andreas Weber in the Gutenberg Galaxy

It started in Mainz and in Mainz it is supposed to continue. The ‘media.expo 2013’ promised new solutions and innovative tools for the publisher and media industry. The media.expo is one of many exhibitions with mainly the same content and promises for the print and media industry in Germany. The focus lies on speeches, discussions and networking of functional content.

In consideration of the current development of sales the publishing industry needs to wake-up. Even though publishers are present in the digital world via apps and websites there is no innovative progress insight. If Google wouldn‘t bring the traffic and Apple wouldn‘t
have given a platform via the iPad there would be no perspective on the subject of ‘digital content by
traditional publishers’.

Crucial: Publishers don‘t manage or develop their own intermedia communication systems. And they don‘t even use state-of-the-art communication channels in a bi-directional way to create interaction. Maybe they hate Wikipedia and the way Social Media is used by more than a billion of people? — Furthermore, they use a high proportion of their share of sales for the content creation and mostly ignore phenomenons like Twitter, Facebook or Blogs.

What is worse — publishers don‘t invest in their core business ‘print’ any more. An obvious disinterest of innovative print technologies results in a slow death of ‘print’.

But Innovation is the key. Through innovation of the print media products new markets can be entered. Back in the day Gutenberg was aware of this fact and changed the world with print. However, the modern print-publisher is lacking vision and power for change. Though, over more then a generation ago specific solutions have been approached. Back then, in various places throughout the world, people developed the idea of revolutionising communication with media. IT, Web and print were seen as an integral part of a new communication culture. The main drivers of this development were Xerox Corporation and Hewlett-Packard. They anticipated back in the 90s what is now possible: Digital and analogue media don‘t contradict but build a new intermedia hydrid system.

Read and learn more

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05/21/2013

Re Publishing: Single Platform Domination – Risk or Not?


Is the Kindle a challenge to book publishers?

Many print publishing business executives, authors, literary agents, editors, booksellers and distributors – as well as their counterparts in the digital publishing business – recently sat down at a roundtable to launch this year’s Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

Purpose of the roundtable? To plot a publishing industry survival story! (Which begs the question: Do we even need one?)

Even within this inner circle of professionals there is disagreement (and total misinterpretation on the part of some) of what the changing publishing landscape actually means.

Do the churning changes spell disaster or opportunity?

The title of this post was suggested by a fear expressed by Victoria Barnsley, chief executive of HarperCollins UK. She feels that “single platform domination” will be bad for the publishing industry.

Doesn’t she realize that ‘print’ was the single platform domination for the past 500 plus years! And that we are just recently being offered a choice of venues?

This piece by Robert Budden in The Financial Times dot com allows us into the roundtable and the minds of the attendees:

 

Publishing industry roundtable plots a survival story

Serial entrepreneur and Financial Times columnist Luke Johnson could be excused for having a pessimistic outlook on the publishing sector, having “lost a fortune” following his purchase of the UK arm of Borders, the book chain in 2007.

At a roundtable discussion to launch this year’s Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, the co-founder of private equity firm Risk Capital Partners says he “passionately” hopes books continue to prosper.

But, in references to GoogleAmazon and Apple, he warns that software “has become a very serious threat that may well eat” the publishing business.

Victoria Barnsley, chief executive of HarperCollins UK, probably speaks for many publishing executives when she highlights “single platform domination” as “the risk”. “I don’t think it was good for the record industry nor will it be good for publishing,” she says.

The conundrum for publishers is what to do about it.

Tim Harford, an author and also an FT columnist, says the industry needs to take action swiftly, especially in relation to the digital rights management (DRM) approaches of some ebook distributors that lock readers into their ecosystems.

“If you let Amazon and Apple lock in their devices, they are going to slaughter all of you,” he says, referring to book publishers and retailers.

Read and learn more

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04/27/2013

The Publishing Industry is Just Experiencing Growing Pains – Not Armageddon!


Publishing Business experiencing growing pains

The change washing across the publishing industry has caused some, even some so-called pros within the profession, untold angst and driven them to overdose on Bromo Seltzer, declare an end to ‘literature’ and ALL things cultural, for that matter – It’s no f—ing wonder they haven’t jumped out of 30th floor windows like when the market crashed in ’29!

Just goes to show you that being learned in a profession does not immune you from stupidity when that profession experiences inevitable change/growth. We all enter the food chain at a specific snapshot in time — and having cut our teeth on and learned the ‘procedures-of-the-day’, resulting in income/rewards of varying degrees (depending, perhaps, on our karma), we think what we have mastered will never change and we will live in this snapshot in time forever after.

Bullshit! — Just as we age and change, so does everything else – including publishing.

Please read this post on my Writers Welcome Blog: James Patterson Wants Government to Bail Out Book Industry for a little background.

Relax, folks, the publishing industry is going to be just fine, literature is NOT going to disintegrate – in fact, it’s going to EXPLODE as never before for those that will come after us and books, both digital and print AND future formats, will live and thrive together. Bank on it.

This view by Brandon Barb as reported in The Spencer Daily Reporter:

 

The publishing industry is safe

The publishing industry is in the same boat as the newspaper industry. Both are dealing with digital formats that are quickly changing the way people read and consume content, but neither industry has quite figured out how to utilize that digital aspect to a full extent. When those formats are ironed out the industries will be just fine. Neither books nor newspapers are going to go away.

With that being said, successful author and writer James Patterson is calling for the U.S. government to bail out the publishing industry. For some background, Patterson’s books have sold millions of copies and he is on four New York Times bestseller lists. He isn’t exactly in need of a bailout, nor is the publishing industry.

Patterson called for the bailout in an advertisement placed in the New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly. It asks, “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature?”

The same can be said for the newspaper business. If there are no newspapers or magazines, where will people read news that matters? Where will our news come from if not from editors and writers all over the world?

Read and learn more

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04/18/2013

Digital Disruption Continues To Reshape the Publishing Market — E.G.: If an Author Self-Publishes, What Is the Role of a literary Agency?


Digital Disruption (DD) – As formidable as a DD cup 🙂

What is the role of a literary agent? Well, I’ll tell you — it’s changing, as most other publishing functions are, due to digital disruption — literary agencies are becoming self-publishing service centers in addition to representing author clients to traditional publishers.

Why? SS (simple survival).

Yes! Digital has, INDEED, caused disruption in the publishing industry. Actually ‘disruption’ is too minor, ‘rebirth’ is more apropos — It has forced a totally inefficient system to not only think, but ACT, outside the proverbial ‘box’  in order to survive — resulting in innovative, improved and more efficient publishing procedures (still in progress by the way) — AND a fairer, more level playing field for authors, with more control where it should be: with the actual creators/writers.

All the events causing the underway publishing transformation has also caused literary agencies to ‘be all they can be’ as they have adopted self-publishing options for their author clients blessed with established contacts and negotiated contracts for same.

Interesting excerpted disruptions from tonight’s discussion for your preview and titillation:

– Self-publishing becomes more attractive to established authors.

– Romance novelist Eloisa James says that published authors talked about the “self-pubs” all the time and had learned a lot from those writers’ efforts. “They treat it like a small business,” she said, “and they are geniuses at discoverability.”

– Mr. Harris, co-director of ICM’s literary department, said self-publishing “returns a degree of control to authors who have been frustrated about how their ideas for marketing and publicity fare at traditional publishers.” Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author, said that the big publishers focused mostly on blockbuster books and fell short on other titles — by publishing too few copies, for instance, or limiting advertising to only a short period after a book was released — “Particularly for high-end literary fiction, their efforts too often have been very low-octane,” Mr. Harris said of the traditional publishers.

– Interesting thought: If an author self-publishes, what, then, is the role of a literary agency? Mr. Gottlieb of Trident said it made sense for his clients to self-publish through the agency, which charges a standard commission on sales, instead of going directly to Amazon themselves because the agency brought experience in marketing and jacket design. It also has relationships with the digital publishers that give their clients access to plum placement on sites that self-published authors can’t obtain on their own.

– Self-publishing now accounts for more than 235,000 books annually, according to Bowker, a book research firm. Big houses like Penguin and Harlequin have opened their own self-publishing divisions because they see it as a profit center of the future.

– “… publishing is like Hollywood — nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

– Then there is the money. While self-published authors get no advance, they typically receive 70 percent of sales. A standard contract with a traditional house gives an author an advance, and only pays royalties — the standard is 25 percent of digital sales and 7 to 12 percent of the list price for bound books — after the advance is earned back in sales.

Enough titillating highlights 🙂 These details from The New York Times by Leslie Kaufman:

 

New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves

When the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author David Mamet released his last book, “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” with the Sentinel publishing house in 2011, it sold well enough to make the New York Times best-seller list.

This year, when Mr. Mamet set out to publish his next one, a novella and two short stories about war, he decided to take a very different path: he will self-publish.

Mr. Mamet is taking advantage of a new service being offered by his literary agency, ICM Partners, as a way to assume more control over the way his book is promoted.

“Basically I am doing this because I am a curmudgeon,” Mr. Mamet said in a telephone interview, “and because publishing is like Hollywood — nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

As digital disruption continues to reshape the publishing market, self-publishing — including distribution digitally or as print on demand — has become more and more popular, and more feasible, with an increasing array of options for anyone with an idea and a keyboard. Most of the attention so far has focused on unknown and unsigned authors who storm onto the best-seller lists through their own ingenuity.

The announcement by ICM and Mr. Mamet suggests that self-publishing will begin to widen its net and become attractive also to more established authors. For one thing, as traditional publishers have cut back on marketing, this route allows well-known figures like Mr. Mamet to look after their own publicity.

Then there is the money. While self-published authors get no advance, they typically receive 70 percent of sales. A standard contract with a traditional house gives an author an advance, and only pays royalties — the standard is 25 percent of digital sales and 7 to 12 percent of the list price for bound books — after the advance is earned back in sales.

ICM, which will announce its new self-publishing service on Wednesday, is one of the biggest and most powerful agencies to offer the option. But others are doing the same as they seek to provide additional value to their writers while also extending their reach in the industry.

Since last fall, Trident Media Group, which represents 800 authors, has been offering its clients self-publishing possibilities through deals negotiated though online publishers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in a system very similar to the one ICM is setting up. Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident, says that 200 authors have taken advantage of the service, though mostly for reissuing older titles, the backlist.

Another literary agency, InkWell Management, has helped the romance novelist Eloisa James reissue many of her backlist titles, as well as her newer books overseas, this way. She usually turns out her best sellers through HarperCollins, and in a telephone interview she said she would not leave Harper completely because she loves her editor. But she added that published authors talked about the “self-pubs” all the time and had learned a lot from those writers’ efforts.

Read and learn more

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