Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who Are The Top U.S. Publishers

You name the type of book but from my experience, most new authors want to be published with the top publishers. One of the things they don't understand is whether the publisher is large or small, the author is still the person on the planet with the greatest passion for their particular book. And this author will have to translate that passion into marketing action for their book to give it the best possible reception in the marketplace.

Also I've heard horror stories about marketing and publicity efforts from authors of all persuasions--whether they went with a major publisher or a relatively small house. Publishing is not an exact science because to a degree it is unpredictable which books will strike a chord with the buying public. For example, why did how-to books about canasta sweep the nation and land on the bestseller list during the 1950s? The card playing craze caught on and the public went to their local bookseller to get a how-to book on canasta. It's the same sort of unpredictable nature of publishing today.

In the paper issue of Publishers Weekly which I received in yesterday's mail, it included an article with publishing sales data from 2007 about the top publishers in the world. When it comes to the U.S. publishers, the magazine included this illustration with the data:Notice this data is about publishing of all types--textbook and trade publishing. Earlier this year, Mike Hyatt included some data about the market share of trade publishers. If you look at the Publishers Weekly information it was interesting that Thomas Nelson doesn't appear in the top 50 publishers of the world. While I don't understand the difference, I suspect it is from a different way of defining the data will be at the root cause.

As long as I'm writing about Publishers Weekly, another bit of information came out at The New York Observer about the PW reviewers. Traditionally there is no printed list of the reviewers in the magazine but in recent days they have changed this policy and The Observer pulled together an article about the background of some of the PW reviewers. I thought it was interesting and I hope it will help your knowledge of the publishing industry as well.

Finally whether you land a large publishing house or a smaller press, I continue to encourage you to take an active and consistent role in the marketing of your book. That passion will pay off in the long run.

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2 Comment:

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Krista Phillips Left a note...

Thanks for posting that! I’d reviewed Michael's post last year but didn't realize he'd posted the most current. These are fun statistics to look at.

Just a thought at the difference (and I definitely am not a business expert), Michael noted his #'s were market share of trade books. The top two on the publisher’s weekly list are Reader's Digest and McGraw Hill. These are vastly different publishers and would be representative of much more that just trade books, correct?

It is interesting how we gravitate towards the "big" names in publishing. I think we all shoot for the “biggest” under the assumption that they have something going for them if they have such a large market share. (our CEO is constantly reminding us how good companies increase market share in difficult economic times).

The assumption is that a big publisher will have more clout with bookstores and other outlets for selling your books. A smaller publisher is not going to have that brand power.

That said, we all get to the point where ANY publisher is better than no publisher (outside of POD and self-publishing of course).

Sorry for the long comment, but I was very thankful for your post. I love the business side of things as well, and it is interesting to see the statistics.

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Michael S. Hyatt Left a note...

The other problem is that the PW data doesn't contemplate sales through Christian bookstores, which is a big chunk. The data that we collect is the most comprehensive available. It include sales through general market bookstores, some mass outlets, and Christian bookstores. And Krista is right, we are only looking at trade publishers.


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