Friday, December 19, 2014

The Business of Publishing, 2014

A very interesting, articulate article on the business of publishing, whether traditional or indie, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

I quote:

Over the past year or two, publishing companies have changed their thinking about the industry. (From now on, I will primarily refer to traditional publishing companies as publishers.)

Some of this change has been happening for years, as mergers and acquisitions grew. Some of it has come from the fact that the large companies have finally understood the impact ebooks and online shopping have had on the industry.

Much of the change is in response to 2013’s dismal fall sales, which happened courtesy of the Justice Department’s investigation of six major publishers and Apple for price-fixing. It didn’t matter how that case turned out; the case itself changed business as usual inside publishing.

Business as usual was this: Before that all important Christmas shopping season, publishers consulted with each other about the timing of their blockbusters.

Think of it the way that the movie industry does: When a film that will suck up all the ticket sales of a particular genre (like an Avengers movie) declares it will release in May, other filmmakers in that genre will avoid that weekend. Generally, studios will release a film that they think will appeal to a different type of audience.

This sort of thing is easier to do in film than in books. A movie takes years to produce and finish. The movie studio will reserve its theater space often two years before that film releases. Sometimes a studio will move a film to a different weekend because of another blockbuster, but often because of production troubles. (This happened with one of the Harry Potter films.) You’ll note that the move will be at least six months after the initial release date.

That’s because of all the moving parts it takes to get a film to market.

Booksellers don’t require book publishers to reserve space in the store ahead of time. There aren’t four or six or twelve slots for books in the average bookstore. There are hundreds.

However, it was smarter marketing to make certain that John Grisham’s latest novel would not compete with Scott Turow’s latest novel, on the theory that legal thriller readers wouldn’t pony up $60 the week of the hardcover releases—they would choose which author they liked best, and only pay $30.

She ends with these ‘comforting’ thoughts:

Traditional writers who go blindly into this world will get screwed worse than they ever have before. Traditional writers who go in with their eyes open might gain some benefits at the expense of a book or two or three.

Generally speaking, the writers who go into traditional publishing are risk-averse. But it would seem to me that the only writers who should go into traditional publishing are writers who appreciate and understand risk.

Because in 2014, the big conglomerates did what big conglomerates do: they reassessed their business and improved it.

Most writers never think to do that with their businesses.

There’s a lot of good stuff, well-researched, between these two snippets. Read the rest of Kris' article. While it's long, it's worth the time.

For what it's worth, being risk-averse shouldn't imply a lack of understanding of risk, merely the desire to reduce its effect.

The comments over at The Passive Voice are generally good, also.

Enjoy, and use your research to make good decisions, ones which benefit you.

No comments:

Post a Comment