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Book Publishing and the Tools of Change

O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference 2009

The O'Reilly Tools of Change Conference is now over and for those who couldn't make it like myself, the videos have been posted along with some great links and articles. Itunes users can subscribe for your convenience. I've been waiting for more news on the Smart Women Read Ebooks panel and it looks like the article is up along with the Power Point Presentation used.

On the front page of the TOC site, there's an interesting article link to a Huffington Post by Hugh McGuire called "What About the Readers?" McGuire gives a short overview of the conference noting that the readers were absent from mentioning how publishing will affect everyone involved.

One of the problems for publishers is that they have never had much to do with their readers. Their clients, traditionally, have been book stores, who in turn managed the relationships with readers. In a time of limited media choices and abundant readers that probably works. But now that book reading is competing against so many other information-based leisure activities (the web and the Wii, to name two), the makers of books need to have a more intimate understanding of what readers want. Outsourcing your relationships with the people who are your reason for existence is probably a bad idea when your business is in turmoil.

What kind of business runs without constantly questioning how it can best serve it's clientele? The answer, especially when consumer choice has never been so great, is probably: a business that's going to have trouble surviving.

This is true. Along these lines, agent Nathan Bransford's blog had a very enlightening chat within the comments which incited this post called Book Revenue Breakdown from the agent. Keep in mind this is focused on mainstream NY publishing while the model would be slightly different for small press and of course e-publishing.

The numbers are pretty astounding for the first time author especially considering none of the small percentages are earned until after the advance is earned out. Some authors I've spoken to earn most of their money from subsidary rights like foreign, audio and etc. if they're fortunate enough to swing the deal. Michael Stackpole talks about his experience and what he earns over at his Secrets Podcast. Check out series five The Future episodes to get some interesting insight. Folks with Itunes, you can subscribe through the software.

The future of publishing is on everyone's minds especially as we navigate a rough industry. Many are wondering about the market as companies are downsized seemingly everyday. And the creators are wondering what will happen once (and if) everything starts leveling out.

I got my newsletter from and they've asked for people to give them ideas on what the future of publishing will be like. I'll have to ponder that for awhile to see if any feelings come up. In the mean time, the Litmatch Blog offers up some very nice encouragement for writers in this post.

It can be a scary time for the aspiring author with all the doom and gloom speak and rough waters. The good thing is I'm seeing a lot of opportunities crop up despite the darkness. And it's all about the individuals making a change.


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