Changes in the Publishing Industry Create Opportunities
In the month of March 2016 Garn Press will present a series of posts on the unprecedented changes taking place in the publishing industry that impact authors, readers, and independent publishers. The secret of the success of Garn Press is our commitment to people – not only to our readers, and the scientists, educators, and scholars whose books we publish, but also to the many individuals and organizations that support the Press.
Massive Changes in the Publishing Industry Create Opportunities
The 2015 World Economic Forum (Davos) declared climate change to be the world’s biggest economic risk, while at the same time declaring we have entered a new age of protest.
At a time when the global economic outlook is uncertain, the media and the publishing industries are confronted with the formidable task of reporting on the economic risks associated with the most prescient events of our time, while at the same time they are also being impacted by the risks on which they are reporting, and are vulnerable to the massive changes that are taking place to human societies and to the natural world.
Given that newspapers are dependent on readers for survival, this dilemma – reporting on the news and being impacted by the news — is a huge problem for the industry. For example, one of the critical issues recently discussed by a reporter at The Guardian on National Public Radio (NPR, U.S.) is the difficult task the newspaper is having presenting to the public articles that address the issues of climate change in ways that encourage people to actually read about them. Similarly, at the WFPG, Davenport spoke of her discussion with her editor about how to “frame” the information on the COP21 process, planning, and metrics on which she was reporting. She recounted in her talk the myriad of “conditionals” that frame the reports she has written for the New York Times about COP21, and the rapid changes taking place to human societies as a result of climate change.
Thus, it is fair to state that newspapers struggled in 2015 both in reporting the news and being part of the news — with the economic circumstances of reporting straining the financial viability of many news organizations. Many newspapers continued to reinvent themselves, literally, and metaphorically – challenging well established conventions for reporting the news.
Smaller and often esoteric niche presses are doing the same. Even old illustrious literary magazines are in a state of flux and some are in a state of metamorphosis. For example, there is talk of the London Review of Books closing the LRB New York office, staff have left or been terminated, and the London office is handling the advertising by U.S. university presses that favor the LRB.
Book publishers are facing similar challenges. Five years ago a publisher said that if writers do not have 10,000 “followers” (Facebook/Twitter) their manuscripts would not be considered for publication. Since then the number has gone up. At Garn one potential author stated he had 100,000 followers as a rationale for Garn to publish his book.
A similar situation exists re: post-publication. An unwritten industry standard is that if a book does not sell 2,000 copies in the first year, publishers are reluctant to consider any further books by the author. Parenthetically, the owner of a well-known bookstore in New York recently commented that she knows authors who have changed their pen names to keep publishing after authoring books that had not produced the requisite number of sales.
Garn Press is Thriving in this Precarious Publishing Environment
The terms “old publishing” and “new publishing” are now ubiquitous, and as one associate in the industry said, “every editor he knows is crying”. Garn’s task is to remain true to the mission of the Press and to present to readers the leading thinking of our time on how to protect the planet and our kids.
One insight gleaned by Garn in the past two years is that it is more difficult to move from “old publishing” to “new publishing” than it is to actually establish a new publishing company.
Garn is up for the challenge of new publishing. The Press has a firm philosophical foundation. We know who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to accomplish, and we are holding to these ideals.
The strength of Garn is the synergy that exists within the leadership team and it is the collaborative efforts of the team that are the key to the success of the Press.
What Garn Press has Learned About the Promotion and the Sale of Books in New Publishing
One of the challenges for Garn Press is that the publishing industry has one foot in the old paradigm and one foot in the new paradigm. The industry is gyrating back and forth and publishers are trying hard to keep their balance.
There was a point when the industry was convinced that eBooks would replace paper books. That has not happened. Sales of electronic books first plateaued and have now dipped. The sales of paper books plummeted and have now surged.
There was talk of most brick and mortar bookstores closing and most book sales becoming electronic. To the contrary, Amazon, the great electronic sales dictator of the industry, has just opened a brick and mortar store, and there is talk of Amazon bookstores opening in many cities across the United States.
It is a turbulent time for the industry, but if a small publisher is quick of foot it is possible to take firm steps spanning both old and new publishing as the occasion requires to bring to the public some remarkable books that might not otherwise be published.
Garn Press Marketing and Promotion of Books
The promotion of Garn books is both exciting and challenging work. There is tremendous diversity in the books published by the Press; however, Garn has a firm philosophical foundation – to recap, we know who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to accomplish, and we hold to these ideals in the marketing and promotion of Garn Press books.
In 2015 Garn Press published books in each of the three divisions: (1) People and the Planet; (2) People and Society; and (3) Imagination and the Human Spirit. For this reason, there is no standard “one size fits all” marketing and promotion plan, and plans are developed individually for each book in conjunction with the author, depending on the specific market addressed by the book.
The complexity of marketing and promotion is illustrated by consideration of Garn’s fiction books published to date. All Garn novels are literary works, mostly by first time novelists although not first time authors, and include works of historical fiction, works that combine mythology, fantasy and religious fiction, crime fiction, supernatural fiction, and children’s first reading books.
It is perhaps remarkable that every Garn work of fiction and most nonfiction has been submitted for awards, which takes intense research to find the right awards and then focused efforts to present each book in such a way that it will receive the attention and consideration that it deserves.
Keeping in mind the originality of these efforts here is a brief list of the common elements of every marketing and promotional book campaign.
Marketing and promotional elements common to all books include the following:
- Extensive promotion through dedicated book and author pages on the Garn Press web site – pre-launch announcements, launch and availability announcements with direct purchasing links to sales channels, and ongoing web site publicity.
- Pre-launch and ongoing post-launch promotions through the Garn Press Newsletter and email list, as well as through Garn Press’s social media presences on Facebook and Twitter.
- Worldwide distribution of print (hardcover and paperback) and eBook versions through Garn Press’s six major sales channels, as well as other online and brick and mortar bookstores.
- Author and book pages on the Amazon and Goodreads web sites.
- Free excerpts and selected chapters at a suitable time post-launch on the Garn Press web site.
- Nationwide (sometimes worldwide) campaigns promoting the book to literary review magazines and blogs, news websites and magazines, national and local newspapers, television and radio media.
- Marketing to major bookstore chains and independent bookstores.
- Designing media events to shine the spotlight on Garn’s entire catalogue of great books, and to provide authors with the opportunity to interact with each other as well as representatives of the media and public (e.g. the Garn Press Fall Celebration to be held at the Strand Bookstore in the Rare Books Room.)
Marketing and promotional elements specific to each book may include any or all of the following:
- Author interviews and question/answer sessions on the Garn Press web site.
- Book launches and author personal appearances and book signings at bookstores, especially in the author’s state and city of residence.
- Book signings at appropriate national conferences, especially for nonfiction books.
- Syndication model on garnpress.com for authors publishing on digital platforms (i.e. Blogs)
- Additional author generated research and reading material relevant to the book’s focus areas published on the Garn Press web site.
- Targeted digital advertising on social media web sites.
- Targeted print advertising in national and international book print and online media such as The London Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The New York Review of Books.
- Provision of review copies to a targeted mailing list developed in partnership with the specific book author.
- Development and marketing of commercial book-related products such as T-shirts, tote bags, mugs, and posters, all featuring the book-specific cover art.
- Submission of specific books for well researched national and international book awards.
- Target giveaways on individual nonfiction and fiction books on Goodreads and Amazon.
Garn has a firm philosophical foundation – to recap, we know who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to accomplish, and we hold to these ideals in the marketing and promotion of Garn Press books. Next week, part three – “Participants in the Shift from Old Publishing to New Publishing”.
The secret of the success of Garn Press is our commitment to people – not only to our readers, and the scientists, educators, and scholars whose books we publish, but also to the many individuals and organizations that support the Press. Read more.
The Garner Review 2016 Part Three: Garn Press Authors are Participants in the Shift from Old Publishing to New Publishing
Much has been written about the tension between publishers and authors, but at Garn Press the members of the leadership team considers themselves advocates for authors. Read more.