Saturday, October 25, 2008

The talk on Publishing vs the Economy

I just completed my talk on “Publishing and today’s difficult economy” here at the Glorieta (NM) Christian Writer’s Conference. I’ll have to admit I was rather concerned that I could take such a potentially dry subject and make it interesting. I asked the Lord, of course, to use me to tell these people what they needed to hear. I spent a lot of time checking industry sites and quoting industry professionals from their blogs or emailing them directly, and when I distilled down what they were telling me several interesting things emerged.

I suppose it came off okay, I got a lot of very nice comments, none of which impacted me as much as Dan Penwell of AMG who took the time to compliment me on it, then said he was getting the CD to play for the people back at his publishing house. That meant a lot to me.

I do believe even though some of the information was hard to hear that it is really important for people to have a realistic outlook of the marketplace, what it is doing, and what it takes to succeed in it. It is not a time for rose colored glasses. I have put it online at my website and the direct link is for anyone who would like to see the results of this research and gathering information from some of the key people in the Christian publishing industry. I encourage you to take a look.

If you don’t have the time let me give you the bottom line. What I heard industry pros saying is business as usual, but a bit slower and more cautious. It calls for exceptional books with good, defined markets. They expect authors to share in the risk of the market by taking some lower advances in return for higher royalty rates, and stronger and stronger platforms for helping promote the product become increasingly important. And we need to remember this is nothing new, the industry has been here before. In fact in the Great Depression, two areas that stood up the best was publishing and the movies. The more difficult it got on people the more they needed an economical means of escape from their problems.

Drop by and take a look at the best information I could gather on this difficult subject and let me know what you think.


Sandi Greene said...


Thank you so much for doing this research and for posting it. I have been wondering about this, but wasn't sure where to go and read about it.

Thank you for your hard work!

Sandi Greene

Diane said...

Thanks so much for all the research you did, Terry!

I have been in publishing for some 30 years as an author, editor, and now publishing coach, and I think that we are heading into a "new era of publishing." Many of the old ways and forms are passing away, as some of your editors noted. However, I think this can be a great time to be an author, IF we "think outside the book." I wrote about this recently on my own blog, but the essence is, if we authors can think of our job as primarily finding our audience and delivering our message in a number of different formats, this can be he BEST time to be an author.

But, publishing itself needs to be willing to think in new ways. Seth Godin's insights in Meatball Sundae SO apply to publishing. New Era Publishing requires new ice cream under the whipped toppings of new media forms, not the "meatballs" of the old, antiquated ways of doing things (which many people you quoted alluded to).

Diane Eble