Not long ago I was approached by a minister of a small denomination that does an incredible amount of book publishing for its size. He wanted to know if I would be willing to give a presentation on the new trends and future of publishing. Having started my own independent publishing house and winning three awards for my latest book Proving God I guess he felt I had something valuable to say.
I declined. However, my heart remains full of positive, helpful and redeeming intentions.
It seems to me that this topic has more universal interest than addressing a single religious denomination. People are hungry for information. So I will take this opportunity to use my blog to share with my readers (from all over the world, including representatives of that small denomination) some of my “inklings” on the future of this important industry.
So here goes.
First of all, there is a big shift going on in the publishing industry from tree-books to e-books. This technological shift is making it much easier for small publishing houses (like mine) to compete with the big boys.
The advantage I have is that I can market and promote a title all my life (long tail marketing) while the big publishing houses must put all their resources into promoting a book for about a three-month period, then make room for the next one. Big publishing companies survive by producing “best sellers.” A small publishing house can survive on regional and even local sales.
Large publishing houses need to pay large sums of money to attract already well-known individuals to tell their stories. However, Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks are allowing less well-known people to create successful platforms, which can have substantial followings.
Again, technology is leveling the playing field between big and small publishing businesses. The evidence for this is that there are fewer big publishing houses than ever before.
But something other than changing technologies will remain an important dynamic for the future. As a former president of the St. Louis Publishers Association, I often told our members (mostly authors and future authors) that self-publishing was not only the wave of the future, but that its challenges are analogous to spiritual growth—one has to dig deep into one’s inner potentials and pull out unexpected hidden abilities to succeed. Everyone has to challenge him or herself to transcend their habitual and biological selves!
(On a more “worldly” and pragmatic level, more and more big time authors are, in fact, self-publishing these days to keep greater control of their project and more of the financial profits.)
Talented writers not only have to complete their manuscripts, but when self-publishing on a shoestring budget, they must also arrange to afford to edit, design and market their creations. This means that as soon as they started writing their books they should be thinking marketing and research. (After all, who are you writing the book for? If you don’t know, you will fail!) One must find a competitive edge within a certain niche or create a new niche all together.
Then, the author must find the most imaginative and creative way to write for and exploit this niche.
Beyond new technology, the future of publishing will hang on new and fresh creativity. This creativity is a “knack” that bubbles up from deep within the human spirit. Therefore, the future of publishing will be determined by the future quality of the human spirit!
Of course, I could share even more insights into the future of book publishing but such exclusive info would fulminate my competitive edge.