I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear from a professional who truly has his thumb on the pulse of publishing. Although his presentation contained too many aspects to reproduce here, I’ve noted a few thought-provoking points to get you thinking about what direction your next book might take…
- Industry trends show that mass-market paperbacks are on their way out, to be replaced by electronic methods of distribution. The printing of books has evolved quickly in the last 100 years. What began as a limited availability of hardbound books in the early 1900’s, with a cloth or leather cover, was surpassed by pulp fiction in subsequent decades, and then mass-market paperbacks. The day has come for the next evolutionary phase.
- Publishing is a consumer-driven market. (Not a supplier-driven one.) It must change to adapt to the demands of the consumer, rather than attempt to dictate what the consumer should buy.
- Printing is the most expensive part of publishing. (And you thought it was all those color posters.)
- While adult mass-market sales are down 30% in the past year, audiobooks and e-books have seen their biggest increase in sales across the industry. This seems to echo the projections that the big publishing houses will be gone within 10 years, likely to be replaced by print-on-demand and electronic books.
- Social media now plays a key role in the sales of a book. Just look at John Green‘s “The Fault In Our Stars” – it became a No. 1 hit before he even finished it. And it was all due to what a little bird said (tweet, tweet).
There are other voices that harmonize with what Steven is saying. I like Bob Mayer‘s perspective: “…It’s about the book, not the publisher’s perception about the book. I think that’s a key change authors need to understand: the gatekeeper in publishing now is no longer the publisher—it’s the author and the quality of the book…You can keep switching deckchairs on the Titanic or you can find a ship that’s actually going somewhere.”
There is much to think about in the current publishing climate, but it’s important to keep your balance – not jumping on every new app or forum that arises. Don’t go sharpening your goose quills and pressing berries for ink, either. You don’t have to reject the new just because it may be unfamiliar territory. With a little research and a lot of patience, you can find your own avenue on the road to publishing. Or you could just ask a pro like Steven.
Steven is an executive officer at Goldminds Publishing, and has written and published four novels. His latest, “Yuma Gold,” is scheduled for release by Penguin Group in New York in November 2011. Steven is also founder of the ReadWest Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness and diversity of Western literature.
For more information about Steven, visit http://www.stevenlaw.com
Many thanks to Ozarks Romance Authors for providing an opportunity for writers to meet, learn from, and support one another, (and being so welcoming of visitors – 30% of attendees that day were non-members!) as well as the Springfield-Greene County Library for providing a comfortable meeting space.
- Mass-Market Paperbacks Sales in Decline (stoweboyd.com)