I first wrote for publication (and pay) as an 11-year old covering the Little League for a local paper (we’re talking 1958 here...) which was the first tangible payoff for having learned to type properly a year or two before. Taking the physical effort out of writing was a key element enabling me to do a lot of it in all the years since. Perhaps I wasn’t born to blog, but I was sure raised to take great advantage of this communication form which has arisen over the past ten years.
I entered the book publishing business a little later, when I was 15 (1962) and, through my father’s connections, got employed for the summer selling books in Brentano’s. With some brief interruptions to get a college education (UCLA 1969) and work on a presidential campaign for two years (McGovern 1971-72), I’ve been working in publishing ever since.
I was sired and mentored by Leonard Shatzkin, who made a career out of changing publishing from executive positions in major houses before he created a distribution company, Two Continents, which employed me in the 1970s and where I learned the fundamentals of the business: calling on accounts, working with dozens of diverse publishers who distributed through us, hiring and training sales reps, getting familiar with the annual US trade show (then called the American Booksellers Association convention and now called BookExpo America) and with the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Being raised and then employed by Len Shatzkin was a way to get a PhD in publishing with a specialty in “change.” Len’s principal interest was the “supply chain,” although we didn’t call it that in those days. My consulting career began in 1979 primarily selling my expertise in distribution. But when the digital transition began, I found my true calling: synthesizing and articulating how the digital capabilities and the Internet changed publishing. At first that change was mostly about how books got found and sold (Amazon); then Ingram started Lightning Source and almost nothing ever went out of print anymore; and then we got ebooks and it became increasingly clear to everybody in the industry that almost nothing we “knew” to be true couldn’t be overruled by changing circumstances very shortly.
Over the last 20+ years I've been an author, a publisher and, most importantly, a frustrated member of the publishing industry. My frustrations stem from the glacial pace of change in publishing as well as a lack of true risk-taking at the highest ranks in our industry. Several years ago I decided to start thinking out loud about where the industry should be heading and posted those thoughts on my Publishing 2020 blog. Those posts are freely accessible by anyone with a web browser, but after 7+ years they're not well organized for a first-time visitor.
That's where Hyperink comes into play. I was recently approached by Hyperink to see if I'd be willing to let them curate my posts into ebook format with individual parts set up for each major topic area. I didn't have the time to do this, and since I'm a big fan of experimentation I accepted their offer to do the job for me.
What you're reading right now is the results of their efforts. I hope you enjoy it and one or two of the pieces get your creative juices flowing.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
March 26, 2012
I'm bored with e-book samples. I feel like I'm collecting a bunch and then forgetting about most of them. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone and I'm even more certain this adds up to a ton of missed sales opportunities. Although this would be impossible to prove, my gut tells me the revenue missed by not converting samples into sales is a much larger figure than the revenue lost to piracy. And yet the publishing industry spends a small fortune every year in DRM but treats samples as an afterthought.
Think about it. Someone who pulls down a sample is already interested in your product. They're asking you to win them over with the material you provide. Far too often though that material is nothing more than the front matter and a few pages of the first chapter. Some of the samples I've downloaded don't even go past the front matter. I'm looking for something more.
Let's start with the index. Would it really be that hard to add the index to e-book samples? No. And yet I've never seen a sample with the index included. Sure, many of these books have indexes that can be viewed separately on the e-book's catalog page, but why not include them in the sample? Give me a sense of what amount of coverage I can expect on every topic right there in the sample.
How about taking it up a notch? Give me the first X pages of the full content, include the entire index at the end and in between include the rest of the book, but have every other word or two X'd out? That way I can flip through the entire book and get a better sense of how extensively each topic is covered. By the way, if the entire book is included like this then the index can include links back to the pages they reference.
Next up, why do I have to search and retrieve samples? Why can't they be configured to automatically come to me? After a while a retailer should be able to figure out a customer's interests. So why not let that customer opt in to auto sample delivery of e-books that match their interests? I love baseball. Send me the samples of every new baseball book that comes out. I've got plenty of memory available in my e-reader and I can delete any samples I don't want.
I've also mentioned this before but it's worth saying again: How about letting me subscribe to samples from specific authors? Again, it would be an opt-in program but I wonder how many interesting books I've missed because I didn't discover the sample.
Finally, this problem doesn't appear till after the sample is converted into a sale but why can't the newly downloaded e-book open up to where I left off in the sample? Seriously, this has got to be one of the easiest annoyances to fix, so why hasn't anyone taken the time to do so?
Buy the book to read more!
...and much more
Rachel Deahl, a veteran journalist with over a decade of experience covering the publishing industry, offers readers a real-world take on what actually happens on the road to publication, and what writers can expect as they pursue their publishing dreams, either through a traditional publishing deal or via one of the many self-publishing options available today. Among the topics discussed:
¥ÊÊÊ What to really expect from your agent, editor, publicist and publishing house.
¥ÊÊÊ What writers should and should not have in their publishing contract.
¥ÊÊÊ The pros and cons of various digital self-publishing platforms.
¥ÊÊÊ How to get your self-published book distributed and reviewed.
¥ÊÊÊ Success stories from self-published authors, and their own hard-won advice.
Publishing 101 is an indispensable primer for anyone getting started in publishing. Produced by Publishers Weekly, the publishing industryÕs trusted news source since 1872, Publishing 101 offers a no-nonsense perspective on how publishing works, and what writers can do to make their own projects take off.
This is the first book every aspiring author should read. Even readers and booksellers who are curious about the ins and outs of the modern publishing industry owe it to themselves to pick this up. Brilliantly written, wide-ranging without getting bogged down in details, and loaded with harsh truths that will help new authors manage their expectations (you'll do your own marketing; midlist advances are dead; few fiction writers earn a living from their work; co-op and bestseller lists aren't what most people think; and so many more). Highly recommended. -Hugh Howey, bestselling author of Wool
ÒRachel Deahl is a preeminent authority on the subject of first-time authors breaking into trade publishing or the self-publishing sphere. Readers looking for a publishing how-to book could have no better author and publishing coach in their corner than Deahl. PUBLISHING 101 will be a mainstay for book publishing curriculums and the desk drawers of aspiring authors.Ó ÐRobert Gottlieb, Chairman of the Trident Media Group literary agency
"This is a clear, smart, superb guide to both sides of modern publishing, which is sure to be of use to authors no matter which direction they're leaning." -Ted Weinstein, literary agent and founder of Ted Weinstein Literary Management
"Rachel Deahl has had boots on the ground during the entire self-publishing revolution and offers tremendous value to authors considering their myriad options. From manuscript preparation to distribution to marketing, PUBLISHING 101 covers all the bases of the publishing game and even offers writers a few new tricks to help them hit the home run." -Scott Waxman, CEO of Diversion Books
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