Interview With Mary Cummings, Project Manager, Diversion Books
1. Diversion Books is a fast-growing company since its creation in 2010. What are you doing that the rest of the book industry is not? I think something that makes Diversion unique and highly functional is our ability to roll with the punches as the industry changes at mind-blowing speed. Every day we learn about new ways to build, distribute, and promote our books. We are constantly investigating and assessing these options, and if we find that they're worthwhile, we aren't opposed to changing our process accordingly. I imagine this is much more difficult for bigger publishing companies to do, but for us it is not only viable but a source of strength and continued progress.
3. How do you work with your authors to help them market their books? We market our titles in a variety of ways. A lot of our expertise has to do with working from within the machine, as it were. That is, we are steeped in information on what is happening in the market and how this is affected by things like metadata, keyword selection, pricing, all the way down to crafting covers, book descriptions, etc. Our approach to this behind-the-scenes work is one that enables ongoing tweaking so that we are always targeting the right audience and not losing relevance or searchability because, for example, our keywords are out-of-date.
4. Where do you see the publishing landscape heading? This is the question everyone is asking, and I'm not sure anyone has the answer. Neither do I. But there are certain things I do feel confident about. One is that the print industry is not becoming obsolete. I think it will look much different, with publishers taking on more projects that are designed for digital printing rather than runs of 20,000+. I think the saturation of the e-book market will continue to boom, although things will continue to change at a rapid rate. Retailers and authors will be looking for ways to adjust to a market that is currently overwhelmed. This is already happening, but I imagine it will continue in a major way. Considering how much Amazon's e-book platform has changed even over the last six months, I can only imagine how things will look in a year, let alone five or ten.
5. What do you do for your authors that authors cannot do for themselves? Apart from accessing a network of professional cover and interior designers, using our unique insight into the market when crafting metadata, etc. as I touch on above, and in general bringing a lot of expertise and understanding of all aspects of the publishing process to the table, Diversion has relationships with all of the major retailers. That is, I can pick up the phone and talk to someone at Amazon should a problem arise, or to pitch them on an idea. We have different merchandising and promotion opportunities open to us with retailers that authors who self-publish cannot access. The reality is, whatever success you've gained with outreach, it will be dwarfed by the success you gain from having one of the retailers promote your book on the site.
6. How do you determine how to price your e-books, especially the ones that are shorter? Again, we are constantly studying the market, tracking trends, and so forth, to make sure our pricing strategies have a greater chance of really helping our titles to be discoverable and fit into the right categories. Typically, fiction sells at a lower price point (e.g. $2.99), unless the author is so well-known and loved that readers would sell a kidney for the next book, in which case it could be priced anywhere up to $9.99 (which, at the time of this writing, is a loaded figure in the industry). Non-fiction can often fit within higher price points, but it really depends on what the book is and who the audience is. For example, our e-book by Mark Cuban is a curation of blog content and is a shorter work, so the price is lower, while our e-book by Jim McLean, which includes hundreds of instructional photos, warrants a higher price.
7. What have been your more successful titles? Swing Your Sword by Mike Leach, which we published last summer in both print and electronic format, was a #5 NYT best seller and has consistently held rank on bestseller lists. Slim to None, which is an original fiction title by Jenny Gardiner, rose to #1 on the Kindle bestseller list (paid, not free), and continues to enjoy great success. Mark Cuban's How to Win at the Sport of Business is another top-selling title.
8. What advice do you have for authors contemplating his or her publishing options – self-publish vs. traditional publisher; e-book vs. paper vs. audiobook? I think authors should really think about a number of things when deciding what route to take.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s leading book publicity firm. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person