Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: Read This!

To sum up last Thursday’s publishing post: Did last fall’s Dorchester changes leave me shaken like everyone else? Of course. Did I abandon ship immediately because I refused to consider being part of their change? No. Why?

Here are a couple of recent articles about Amazon and Apple to get us started with today’s conversation:

In this link, Amazon, “…announced in the past two weeks a publishing list for the spring and early summer that includes 16 booksin its AmazonEncore imprint and eight booksin its AmazonCrossing imprint, which focuses on translations…Both imprints use Amazon’s extensive sales data and customer reviews to help inform publishing decisions…”

Read about Amazon’s push to become a publisher here:


In this link, Appleis “…working to funnel more electronic sales of magazines, newspapers and other content through its iTunes store, an effort that is making some publishers uneasy….”

Read about how Apple’s tightening control over it’s massive digital content offerings here:

In this link, Amazon’s big story is “…that in just three years [the company has] positioned itself to triple its overall share of the U.S. book business for all formats. Before the end of 2012, Amazon could own more than half of the U.S. book business across all formats.”

Read the real story behind Amazon’s single digit kindle margins here:

And I’ve shared all this to point out a simple truth.

That while I wasn’t initially thrilled that my next Dorchester release would be primarily a digital offering (though they’ve made some exciting decisions I’ll share later about marketing my first trade paperback push), digital publishing is becoming a leading force in the book industry, and my publisher was repositioning itself to take a proactive, innovative role in that market.

While people were ripping my editor and the hardworking folks in the NY office to shreds for realities they themselves had no part in bringing about, these very people were getting excited about the possibility of being a pioneer in not just a trend or a wave or a glimmer of change. Digital publishing and marketing and promotion IS publishing. Now. 

Not all at once. Not taking over the world. Yet. But look closer at the time and effort and expense that all New York publishing houses (from the Big 6 on down to the struggling small houses like Dorchester) are pouring into understanding this reality. See how much retail and media big hitters Amazon and Apple are investing into understanding and staking their claim in digital media and the non-traditional publishing opportunities the Internet offers. See that the rules and the playbook that was mass market “print” commercial fiction is yesterday.

Which left me last fall wondering what I was going to do now. Not just because of Dorchester’s changes, but inspired by them. As I’ve said, these were my business partners for my paranormal series, and they were throwing all their efforts onto the cutting edge of something I and most everyone else on the writing side of this business thought wouldn’t be a reality for us until much further down the road.

Articles like the ones I link to above were starting to become the daily norm. eBook sales were beginning to ramp up. Print sales and available shelf space in physical stores were shrinking as the New York houses dumped their midlist and focused solely on the branded authors they think are the only ways they can make money now. Where did that leave me?

Interestingly enough, it left me smiling more than feeling furious at the unexpected shift in my career. Because I could for the first time see an author having a choice.A writer being able to get her quality work to a reader without being at the mercy of publishers who couldn’t focus on their smaller profit margins because the cost of print publishing is just too damn high and the distribution and warehousing and marketing of print books just too damn complicated a process for an industry to nurture the little voices.

Was Dorchester offering my little, mid-list voice a chance to break out of the mold and have its say? Were the lower cost margins and creative marketing and promotion and distribution opportunities just starting to emerge for digital books a new beginning? Was this an opportunity in disguise that I couldn’t afford to pass up without investigating more thoroughly?

Can any mid-list author really afford to not consider where digital publishing is taking their career next?

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2 Responses to “Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: Read This!”

  1. Love the title! Publishing is not for sissies and it’s also not for people who are not willing to take a risk on something new, especially mid-list authors. There are more and more opportunities available in the digital world and that means staying in the public’s eye as well as being able to explore new avenues in fiction. It was a big part of my decision to go with Carina Press for some new e-book only releases. I wanted to build a greater presence in the digital marketplace and have more frequent releases than were possible via print channels. Thanks for this interesting topic!

    • Anna says:

      Caridad, I’d love to hear more about your Carina decision and experience. You’re one of the multi-published, hard-working authors I look to for setting trends, as well as making the most of the current market. I’d love to have you come back and discuss this some more–either in the comments or, even better, in a “Publishing Isn’t For Sissies” guest blog!

      And I LOVE the name, too ;o) Makes me smile every time I type it…

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