Friday, February 22, 2008

A Window to the Publisher's Thinking

Book publishing is subjective. One publisher or editor will love a concept and book project or manuscript and build the consensus inside the publishing house so that title appears in print. Hopefully this same editor will rally the publicity and marketing and sales area so the public learns of this book and the buzz begins to transpire.

It's not often that the average writer can get much insight into the current mindset of these publishers. Where are they headed? What trends do they see in the marketplace? What are their concerns or worries about the future of book publishing? While these are good questions, I wanted to point to a place where I got a bit of insight to the answers. Also I wanted to point to how I got this information in hopes it will help you see where you too can follow this type of information. I subscribed to Christian E-Tailing (a free twice a week newsletter). Yesterday's newsletter included a release from the Christian Trade Association about their January meeting in Toronto, Ontario. According to the release, they did not record audios of the presentations. Yet they are providing downloads of the publisher's papers. I was intrigued with this quote: "Our prayer is that by offering these papers for free they will be a significant resource for the many that can benefit from them," CTAI President Jim Powell said. The free papers cover several topics, including "Christian Publishing International Initiatives," "The Future of Christian Publishing," "Developing Authors," "Opening a Christian Bookstore," "Christian Trade and the Global South" and "Christian Publishing Trends From the Perspective of a Developing World Publisher."

I'm always interested to read anything about trends in the marketplace and gain a window into their thinking. You may look at the page and wonder what I read. These two papers in particular were fascinating to me: The Future of Christian Publishing with contributions from Greg Thornton, Director, Moody Publishers (USA), Tessie DeVore, Executive Vice President, Book Group, Strang Communications (USA), Chris Johnsen, President, Christian Art (South Africa), and Bob Hawkins, Jr., President, Harvest House Publishers Developing Authors with contributions from Scott Bolinder, Executive Vice President and Publisher, Zondervan (USA), Phoebe Mugo, General Manager, Uzimo Publishers (Kenya), and Mark Taylor, President, Tyndale House Publishers (USA)

Included in these papers is that these leaders within their publishing houses rarely communicate with the public. If you download and study this material, it will help give you a realistic perspective about their viewpoint. Why do you care as a writer or book author? As an author you need to consider and write to your readers. Yet to be able to reach that audience, you need to connect with the gatekeepers of the publishing houses and tap their needs and/or calm their concerns and fears. You get some hints in this material.

Before you head over there and download this material, it needs a bit of a warning. You "could" find it discouraging. There are many places where you could grow concerned as an author. I'll give one example--out of context--from Tessie DeVore who leads the book group at Strang, "Christian publishers will find it even harder to start up new authors...This means "riskier" titles by newer authors will not be adequately featured..." Don't allow your self talk to say something like "Well, that does it for my book idea. It's over." It's not. One of the keys is your own attitude.

I love what Cynthia Kersey at Unstoppable wrote about this area. "How you deal with challenges will determine whether you achieve your goal or give up and settle for less than you deserve. If we really want to create different results in our lives, we must become aware of how we interpret the "facts" or "events" of our lives and understand that our explanations often do not represent the "truth" of what's possible for us. In a very real sense, facts are an objective account of the event that occurred. No interpretation or meaning is attached. For example: "I was rejected by a potential investor for my project," "My husband left me," "I lost my job," "I was diagnosed with an illness," "I can't get pregnant."

Truth represents what's possible in any situation. "Each rejection brings me one step closer to an investor for my project," "I will find a new, better relationship," "I can find a better and more fulfilling career," "My health will improve," "I can adopt," and so on.

Many people believe that events control their lives and that their circumstances have shaped who they are today. It's not true. It's not the events of our lives that shape us, but how we respond to those events, what we think they mean, and whether challenges trigger the "giving up" reflex in us or motivate us to hang tough and keep fighting." I can't recommend strongly enough to go over to Cynthia's site and sign up for her Unstoppable Insights.

Notice what Scott Bolinder, EVP and Publisher at Zondervan says in his paper about Developing Authors At Home, "Publishing is a very relational enterprise and you have to cultivate lots of relationships in order to acquire content." Later he writes, "Keeping strong authors is often more challenging than acquiring them, so it must be treated with the utmost importance. Number one factor in caring for one another-- effective communication! Nothing will discourage an author more than a breakdown in communication with their publisher." Finally Scott writes, "Authors and readers are the lifeblood of publishing."

Ever wonder what publishers think about authors moving from publisher to publisher and the whole concept of "stealing" authors? Check out what Mark Taylor, President of Tyndale House Publishers says about this topic in his excellent paper on Author Development. I found it fascinating.

You will see there are many concerns that publishers have about the future of book publishing and their own role. I didn't mention anything about digital rights and Print On Demand (POD) and many other interesting things woven into these papers.

As a writer, it will be key for you to write your own passion--yet write it in such a way that it will reach into the heart and demand a "gotta-have-this-one" response from the gatekeepers within the publishing community. Then they will give you that opportunity to reach your readers.

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8 Comment:

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Kristi Holl Left a note...

I wasn't surprised to see the comment from Zondervan's EVP. I've published my last nine books with Zondervan/Zonderkidz, and their communication is the best I've ever experienced--at all levels. I love working with them!


At 9:46 AM, Blogger max Left a note...

Excellent materials, Terry. Thanks much!

Max Elliot Anderson


At 10:13 AM, Blogger Virginia Smith Left a note...

Thanks for the insights and the link, Terry. Good stuff!

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Tanya Left a note...

This is great information. Thanks for sharing!

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Unknown Left a note...

Great information. As the document says, "books that bring eternal hope & security with an emphasis on values will be in demand.."

And I particularly noted this phrase - "addressing fears & anxieties in books will sell"

I want to bring a Christian book to the reader with those core values in place...

(thanks for always passing on nuggets of information)

At 1:45 PM, Blogger NathanKP Left a note...

Thanks for sharing this informative information. It is difficult to get published, and all we as writers can do is keep trying.

NathanKP - The Ink Weaver Collection - Writing Blog

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

If there was ever a time where getting published was based solely on quality prose, it has long since passed. These days, authors need to understand the industry inside out and Terry is the go-to guy for that information. Thanks!

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Kyle Left a note...

Wow! What perfect timing. I just got a rejection from a publisher today, because they felt I was too "risky." And I posted on it at my blog http://thenewparables.blogspot.com.

But just like you said, it's all about the attitude. Great stuff, Terry.


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