Archives For book publishing

Recently I was driving and was stuck behind someone with the bumper sticker that said,

Save the book!

My reaction was a sigh. An independent bookstore created these bumper stickers in order to fuel passion of their customers who are clinging to the idea of a ‘physical’ book. I understand their passion because they are seeing physical bookstores disappear faster than ever before. Like a an apocalyptic movie, people are running for the hills to survive clinging to these heavy bricks. Amusingly, most of the data I read points to the fact that there are more books being read than ever before.

So why are we afraid? Let’s examine how we find out about a book’s content.

I love independent bookstores. I love  a Barnes & Noble. I quite enjoy a Christian bookstore too. I love them each in different ways but I can easily drive or walk right past them because they don’t deliver a reason to buy there.

Why does that happen?

In my journey, it is because the store’s experience is not good enough to make me want to spend time there and purchase a book.

Here is the good news for those running for the hills. The physical book won’t go away. But that isn’t the point. We should be focused on a reading experience as opposed to whether it is an ‘electronic’ or ‘physical’ book. In publishing, we like to say that we are ‘format agnostic’ and would prefer people reading in whatever way they like. It is the content that matters so can we put the customer in a place where they have a powerful book discovery and reading experience to ultimately buy a book?

By the way, the independent bookstore that created those bumper stickers is one I buy a lot of physical books. I shop there because it provides a valuable experience to help me discover great new books that I would rarely have found online or through my personal network. It is there where I buy a them as presents for people. It is there where I can sit down comfortably and enjoy a quick chapter to test if I want to purchase it or recommend to another. They even offer a way online to buy an e-book through one of their e-book partners. I am also a firm believer that I shouldn’t have to support my independent bookstore as charity. They should give me an undeniable reason to choose their store to purchase a book compared to another. I also don’t mind spending a little more for that experience.

Books

Books don’t need saving. Books need just a better environment to experience and buy them in. It is simple and thankfully with the joy of reading, the ability to find new and interesting things to explore will emerge.

The  readers and writers of today will be found in many different environments compared to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Tolkien, or Rowling. Think about where you congregate to read books and share the great ideas that come from them. Are you in that bookstore, sitting on that airplane, in the classroom, or your local coffee shop? It is in those places where today’s books are discovered. It is also there where you will find the experience to embrace and a book can truly be saved.

What are you reading now and in what format? Did a “bookstore” experience help you to purchase that book? 

Is it your dream to write a book and see it published?

I’m asked often about how to get published. It’s an exhausting process but I’ve spent the past year as a consultant paying closer attention to how a book gets “discovered”. I’m witnessing publisher after publisher downsize or run out of business. It is too often blamed on the rise of ebooks.

The rulebook has been thrown out.

The game has changed for all of us.

There is great value in a publisher but you need to start looking at the world differently.

publish

You can’t just write a book, have someone publish it, get it placed on a random bookshelf in a store, and then hope it all works out. That may have worked in Fox & Sons Books in the movie, You’ve Got Mail, but it doesn’t work exactly like that anymore. That is dial-up thinking.

Take a look at this new Kickstarter project for the book, Off With Her Heart by Amy Dale. This is a great example of a way to fund a book and build an early audience around it before launching it to the world. Basically when this will be published, there will be evangelists ready to promote it since they already believe in it. This becomes and extension of a writer’s platform. Traditionally, a publisher would have to invest a lot of money in time and placement to ensure a book’s awareness is created.

My publishing friends, this is one of the new ways to find hidden talent in writers.

This is not business as usual. It is the future, now.

Here is the good news. A book still lives or dies based on word of mouth. That is the genius of a deal like this with Kickstarter because it leverages  passion through anyone’s sphere of influence. Seth Godin is doing it. Steampunk Alphabet by Nat Iwata did it. The businessperson with the idea around the corner is doing it. Amy Dale is doing it. Word of mouth has never changed but the ways to share information is changing before our eyes. We must embrace it.

As Billy Beane put it in Moneyball,

Adapt or die.

Open your eyes to discover what is new. Leave the old playbook behind. You can do it. We all can do it.

That means you!

  • The writer
  • The publisher
  • The dreamer

What Kickstarter project are you most inspired by?