Saturday, October 14, 2006

Miscellaneous Posts about Publishing

From Publishers Weekly, 5/23/05 (Yes, it's old. I pulled it out to read later and uh, forgot about it.)

"Reads Well With Others" by Bill Goldstein.

Using Adraina Trigiani as an example, the article explores the new synchronicity between publishers and book buyers via book or reading clubs, with some help from booksellers. Trigiani meets on average with four book clubs a week by phone and considers it part of her job. Other authors are following suit.
"Emboldened by their growing power to turn books into bewstsellers — and extend the sales life of titles far beyond that of most bestsellers — reading groups are making demands and transforming the way publishers, booksellers and authors market titles. It's as if the readers most vital to publishers and booksellers — the dedicated book buyer looking for at least one new book a month and hoping to talk about it with a dozen or more friends who will therefore need to buy it too — have unionized, forming little locals around the country and doing a kind of collective bargaining on behalf of their members. They've asked for and received reading group guides, other supplementary material, and, most of all, direct access to writers through book-club tours, in-store appearances and remote visits via -mail or phone."
Statistics were citing, mainly the success of A. Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, and K. Hosseini's The Kite Runner, all of which got big boosts from word of mouth and their popularity with book clubs.
"Today, many reading group members troll the internet for information about authors and books in order to plan their selections up to a year in advance."
I guess those author websites are a good idea, eh?
"The rise of reading groups' importance coincides with the shrinking of space devoted to reviews and other book coverage in many publications, making these clubs all the more crucial to publishers..."
There's more! According to the article, readers sign up in the thousands for publishers' emailed newsletters and have been asking for and are starting to receive advanced reading copies or gallies. There is much more direct contact between book buyers and publishers and between book buyers and authors. I even signed up for Minette Walters' newsletter and I subscribe to a feed for Michael Marshall Smith's news updates.
I'm catching up with my Publishers Weeklys which were accumulating during my vacation. In the May 30th (2005) issue, an item called "Books Without Buyers: Cranking it Out" caught my eye. Bowker annually compiles the number of books published in the US and the latest tabulation revealed that while there was a significant increase in titles published, sales didn't increase significantly to match that. According to the article, book production is up 30 per cent, while sales gained less than 5 per cent for that period. The increased production was attributed to small publishers and self-publishers, whereas the larger publishing houses increased book production by less than 10 percent for the same two years. This trend was visible when the years between 1999 and 2004 were compared. The increase by genre was concentrated in Adult Fiction, Religion, Travel, and Home Ec.

Another interesting statistic is that Bowker reported 11,458 new publishers registered with the US ISBN agency last year. That's a whole lot of publishers, folks, and how many do you wanna bet were self-publishers?

It boggles the mind. All those books vying for reader eyeballs. I want to be one such published writer someday, but given how many books are published each year, how many mss are submitted in that time, and how much competition for readers once a book is published (not just among other books, but all the other entertainments out there, including blogging), it's getting harder and harder to be optimistic about the process. But I'm not giving up on it yet. And then again, here I am, with J, trying to make something out of fannish style original fiction books. But no ISBNs yet. Need more folks wanting them before it can become a business, methinks. Hey, it's a niche, right? :)
According to Publishers Weekly, 4/4/05 issue, Amazon is pairing a known book with an unknown one. For ex, people purchasing Dan Brown's Angels and Demons will get a discount on Sheryl Jane Stafford's A Deadly Exchange. Never heard of Stafford? Neither have I. She had her book self-published with Writer's Showcase Press, a company known for its bestsellers, NOT. How did she manage this packaging feat? She paid for it.

Apparently, Amazon will pair any unknown author with a known one if the unknown is willing to pay a fee. And this can be a good thing because it can raise the awareness factor for small press books. A good author with a good book but no track record can get instant attention and reach a wider audience. Unfortunately, things are never that simple. Because along with the worthy books meeting the requirement (paid fee) will be a lot of drek, unedited atrocities of the sort PublishAmerica puts out (which isn't to say all PA books are drek, but when you have no standards, odds are the majority of your books are going to have serious problems).

According to PW, the program is known as BXGY for Buy X Get Y, and can be found on the site under "Best Value." The "Best Value" program has been around for a few years, but lately, it seems a lot of lesser knowns have figured out how to take advantage of the situation, by opening their wallets. And there's no way to tell on the site that this is different than the "Better Together" deals that are not sponsored and are book pairings made by Amazon, itself.

I already distrusted Amazon for its odd reviews (anyone can write them, including an author's family, without making mention of personal connections) and the often outright weird listings in "People who bought this book also bought these." Now I have yet another reason to be wary of what I find on

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