by Rob Eagar
This week's focus:
Last week, I read an interesting interview with Ellen Archer, CEO of Hyperion (ABC/Disney's book division) entitled "The Book Publishing Business Model is Broken." If you're an author, pay close attention to her comments:
"2012 is going to be about finding new business models...We've been able to provide advances to authors, and unfortunately most of those [advances] don't drive revenue...What are the new ways of making these deals with authors so that it's fair to all of us?...The one pattern that I have seen is that while there is still big money being thrown around for certain books, there is an awareness that we [publishers] can't continue to overpay. Advances are already lowering."
"I've been looking closely at pre-orders and pre-order strategy and how that aligns with authors that we acquire and publish that have active blog sites and followers. We've got a number of authors who are really good with social media and when we acquire their books, three months ahead of time, they'll do something really interesting for their audience, like a cover-reveal, and all of the sudden, you'll see the pre-orders build. Then you take that information to retailers and that can impact their interest in ordering more copies...The core fans buy the book, and then they start talking about it and sharing it with all their friends, and then you begin to see the results of it all paying off."
When asked about authors who aren't skilled in marketing their books, Archer states,"That's going to be a problem. That's always been a problem...If they're [authors] not promotable, then it makes selling their book challenging...I will look to acquire media-genic authors and properties."
"Change is hard for people. Some people think they're changing because they're making a little shift in what they're doing and what they need to do is make a radical shift in what they're doing."
If you're an author who reads my newsletters or blog posts, recognize what Ms. Archer is implying. Her comments show how publishing at all levels is undergoing major changes, such as lower advances, stronger attention to pre-orders, and a premium placed on authors who are adept with social media and offer a "media-genic" personality.
Are you positioning yourself to succeed in this new era of publishing? Are you learning how to be a better marketer of your books? Are you building a distinct author brand and learning new skills to engage the media? Are you building a growing platform? Are you investing in your overall development for the future?
Now is the time to embrace change, rather than resist it. Industry executives like Ellen Archer are publicly announcing that the old ways of publishing are dead. The industry is broken, and it's about to be rebuilt. Are you prepared to thrive in the new era of publishing? Don't say fair warning wasn't given.
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