I chat with June and Robin, my publicists, about the future of the publishing business. [I had several books already published. Yet, I needed a book contract from an established commercial publisher if I wanted to be respected in academia. Academia prefers the traditional publishing route. This reality placed me on a journey to receive many rejection letters. I had written a book manuscript as part of my doctorate requirements in 2008. In 2009, I still didn’t have a commercial publisher. June and Robin were now providing new insight.] After attending a publishing conference on emerging trends, my publicists inform me that major publishers were telling emerging authors to self-publish or work with smaller publishers. The ladies now tell me I am moving in the right direction. I am shocked!
Traditional publishing is a business with established processes. Robert Jacobs, Richard Chase, and Nicholas Aquilano, authors of Operations & Supply Management, define a process as any part of an organization that takes inputs and transforms them into outputs of great value. This means turning an idea into a concrete product (a book). This process isn’t easy! The major publishers
(aka commercial or traditional publisher) continue to lose money. Yet, the major purpose for traditional publishers is to turn a profit. Therefore, large publishing houses prefer to publish: (a) proven, established writers, (b) celebrities, (c) marquee names, and (b) authors with a large, established following. Traditional publishers normally launch 20 or more books at the same time with the hope of one hitting. The three basic elements for publishing a book are planning, promotion, and distribution. Planning covers the entire process from the initial book idea to printing, marketing, and distribution.
In the traditional process, an individual normally needs to develop a book proposal and find a literary agent to pitch a book to a major publisher. However, there are gatekeepers (literary agents and editors) that often keep most new writers from publication. In fact, getting a literary agent is just as tough as getting a book deal. For some individuals, it takes years to obtain a book deal—for some people it’s never.
When getting Impending Danger published, I found a commercial publisher. It took over two years from concept to a published book. This meant the publisher would take care of the publishing details and provide me with a royalty. Yet, I lost the control of dictating the specifics such as the book cover design or the marketing of the book.
The publishing industry has already been reshaped by disruptive change, including Print-on-Demand (POD) Publishing,
the Internet, and more entrepreneurial writers. Mergers of the major publishers, the advent of the large booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, and niche marketing of small, independent publishers continue to reshape the industry standards. There are over 60,000 books being published yearly. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of books (over 53%) are
purchased outside of traditional bookstores.
When publishing Job Strategies for the 21st Century, I was able to get the book out into the market within a few months
and obtain royalties on a monthly basis. Under this new publishing model, most books can be published within a
month or two, making it timelier than the traditional method.
The new publishing paradigm for traditional publishers is to monitor the small publishers and self-publishers until an author achieves a high level of success in the marketplace, and then sign them to a book deal. The Internet, while a friend of most savvy
authors, has created an appetite for free content. This reality has sent shockwaves through the traditional publishing process which has caused many bookstores, publishers, and other support services to go out of business.
Being a published author can change an individual’s life. Dan Poynter, considered the Godfather of Self-Publishing, notes: “The prestige enjoyed by the published author is unparalleled in our society.” A person can use a book to obtain royalties, get new business, and promote other products. Under the new publishing model, the sky is the limit.
What will the publishing process look like in the next five years with a continual onslaught of disruptive change?
How do emerging writers overcome the destabilizing nature of the Internet (Free) when offering products directly to readers?
© 2011 by Daryl D. Green