Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Recyled Food for Thought - higlighted tips on publishing non-fiction from the Chark blog and comments

Problem as defined on the Chark blog: Neither the up-market nor the mass market is performing {in non-fiction]]. Add to this the demise of backlist sales, the pitifully small paperback sales and the legitimate demands of authors for a fair reward for their work. Furthermore in order to achieve this unsatisfactory state of affairs publishers are spending big marketing budgets and granting special discounts to retailers thus undermining their low profitability further.

Solution: The solution from the comments is to publish fewer better titles, reduce prices, give better discounts to independent retailers and worse ones to supermarkets, chains and Amazon, not accept returns, not pay advances, spend money on editorial and design overheads but overall reduce publishing costs.
All good stuff. I remember a management accountant at OUP wondering alound why on earth we didn't stick to publishing best selling expensive titles with low unit costs. He was, of course, right.

Comments
Not that I’m a huge baseball fan, but if you’re always swinging for the fences you’re going to strike out a lot!!! And the mass market may not even be the fence anymore.

what about some niche focused products that rely on viral marketing? As many industries are learning, the mass market that warrants big marketing budgets isn’t even there anymore – why not focus (or at least experiment with focusing) marketing money on more viral campaigns. Get your fans to work with you.

publish fewer, better books and the second; Publishing companies are carrying too high overheads and need to be slimmer, smaller and more flexible operations?

One branch of our non-fiction is a crucial contributor to the overall profitability of our business because by pure luck we have chanced upon a category (martial arts) which, on the whole, is poorly published (in terms of editorial focus and production values). As a publisher I like non-fiction because it tends to sell through off shelf rather than on promotion. These books tend to have a higher list price than our riskier paperback fiction. All in all we have a higher price, a lower discount and a more focused series brand to build.
It takes a long time to bring these books to market – 500 photos, heavy editing and time-consuming design and typesetting – but the quality resonates with enthusiastic readers. As ever, it's all about ensuring you publish high quality books in a market that is eager for them. Emma Barnes

1 comment:

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