“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.
Publishing Concerns with Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP, Global Author Services, HarperCollins
Carolyn reviewed the progress of publishing from the first cave drawings to the printing press to our current Digital Age. The pain over the digital media transition is caused by firms trying to hang onto their legacy business, the struggle to prevent piracy, and the fret over uncertain outcomes.
Media is digitized in the order of least resistance (i.e. newspapers, magazine, music, film, etc.) so books are last.
Carolyn predicts increased consumption by readers but less time with any one book or author, because readers have too many distractions.
Bloggers are the current reviewers. Reviews matter more than social media in terms of selling books. However, authors who are not engaged in social networking are at grave risk.
Issues in the digital ecosystem: advances, royalty rates, territoriality. The old business model is losing scale. There are reduced barriers to entry for new writers. Everyone is trying to figure out how to make money under the new model.
These five forces conspire to drive profitability out of the business:
Bargaining power of suppliers (writers)
Bargaining power of customers (readers)
Threat of new entrants
Threat of substitute products (products other than books)
Competitive rivalry within the industry
Considerations in the publishing world include Content Development, Production and Packaging, Marketing and Merchandising, and Distribution.
Content + Editorial + Distribution + Marketing + Product = Sales $$
C = E-D-M-P = $$ If self-publishing, the author will have to do the E-D-M-P herself or hire someone to do it.
Carolyn distinguishes between Word Writers and Word Brands.
Word Writers need an advance, have low tech knowledge, have a small to medium fan base, and want a support system.
Word Brands don’t need cash up front, have other businesses, are confident in their abilities, possess tech knowledge and a marketing platform, and can hire people to complement their skills.
Which one are you? Which one do you think better leans toward self-publishing?
Ideally, a publisher’s role should be to grow an author’s reach in this manner:
Fund: Advance, royalties, subrights
Create: Edit, design, distribute
Defend: Protect intellectual property
Inform: Collaborate, communicate, integrate, lead, and advise
Amplify: Market, raise awareness and acclaim
Focus: Support creative renewal
***Don’t you wish all publishers would do these things for us?