Friday, March 30, 2012

New Rules For Authors

It used to be not all that long ago that a book was launched as a hardcover and then a year later, the trade paperback was released.  Some books may have been published in other forms as well, such as the mass market format (small pocket book-sized paperback).  The foreign rights may have been sold to other countries, too.  Today, the formulas have changed.

Many publishers simultaneously release a hardcover, trade paper, e-book, and sometimes, the audiobook.  Fewer are waiting to do different versions over time and instead make every format available at once.  Mass market paperbacks are disappearing and fewer are releasing hardcover editions.  Some are going paperless but make a print-on-demand version available along with the e-book.

There are over 50,000 new titles published weekly in America and many compete for shelf space, digital supremacy, and mindshare.  Now, adding to that mix is a new trend.  Authors are competing with themselves.

First, authors with an extensive backlist will never see their books go out of print, thanks to the Internet, which means readers are choosing amongst your titles and everyone else’s that ever existed.  But the good news is that if you develop a fan, he or she will have easy access to buy more titles from your collection.

Second, many authors are releasing new books without spacing them out.  Prolific, best-selling authors, used to release a book a year, then two per year—spread out over six to nine months.  But now authors are experimenting with dual releases or in churning out books at a frequent pace—three or more in a year.

This makes it harder to properly promote each one and to give each one its due.  Further, the chances of quality suffering for quantity are greater.  Writers love to write but being prolific comes with responsibility.  The market is flooded with more product than consumers can handle, suppressing prices and causing readers headaches to keep up while they wade through excessive choice.   

Writers, in order to be successful, will need to find a balance between expanding the book buffet that is out there, and their desire to be embraced as a quality but scarcer author.  Otherwise, too many writers will struggle just to give away their books.

Check out yesterday's post on the need for authors to be realistic about book marketing

Interview With Author Jeffrey Hayzlett

1.      Jeffrey, what inspired you to write “Running the Gauntlet”? I was motivated to write Running the Gauntlet from my years of experience of trying to drive change and how difficult it is; it’s the number one thing holding back most leaders and businesses owners.  It’s extremely difficult even when you have permission.  After the last decade where we’ve all become great at cutting businesses, it’s about time someone stood up and said it’s time to grow them. After the overwhelming success of The Mirror Test, I realized that I still had another book in me; I still had more to share.  I’m passionate about business, and I’m even more passionate about working with passionate business leaders. 

2.      What does it offer readers that they can’t find elsewhere? I introduce some new concepts that drive change in business, including friendsourcing, the 118 Pitch (the elevator pitch 2.0), conditions of satisfaction, and the chief listening officer.  There are certainly people talking about these kinds of movements and industry changes, but I really wanted to focus on how to go about actually driving change by implementing them and putting them into practice. The reasons most leaders fail, and most businesses are hindered is because of their lack of ability to affect change.

3.      What qualifies you to write this book? An MBA from the school of hard knocks.  I had spent my entire career re-starting and fixing businesses that had previously failed to adapt and change.  My business experience extends from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, the c-suite to SMBs, Main St to Wall St, and so on.  I have worked with companies that have 3 employees to 30 employees to 35 thousand employees.  That provides insight that few have.

4.      You write about the things that stop people from thriving in business.  How does one overcome them? I can categorize the top 5 reasons for failure:  fear, tension, radical transparency, risk, promises.  These are ever present in leaders who don’t recognize that change is crucial to the longevity and success of their business.  You must believe that your best days are ahead of you, not behind you, and then work towards them with radical transparency.

5.      You appeared on Celebrity Apprentice.  What do you admire about Donald Trump? He is who he is.  A brand is a promise delivered, and what you see is what you get with Donald.  He is true to his brand, and you have to respect that.  There is no public persona or private persona; it’s not for show.  It’s showy, but it’s not for show.  He’s a bigger than life personality, and even people who don’t like him have to respect that he’s delivered time and time again, even his detractors.

6.      Many authors let fear hold them back.  What could they do to change their mindset? Declare yourself a beginner and understand that in order to be a maestro, you have to play a lot of bad notes first.  Scary part of doing something new, and it only lasts for a few seconds, so get on with it.

7.      Why do you love to write? I love the printed word.  I’m the biggest fan of print since Guttenberg, and when it’s written, it has a sense of permanency, and it’s probably one of the best ways in which any individual can inspire others to act.  Tradition is tradition for a reason.

8.     Any advice to a struggling author? Decide why you’re writing a book.  Is it for yourself as a personal record? Business gain? Education? What is your purpose?  Once you understand that you will have the tools in place to approach everything around the book; be it distribution, marketing, use, business model… or lack thereof.  It will drive all of your decisions.

9.     Where is book publishing heading? Publishing is going through massive transformation.  In our present society, there will always be printed books.  They will not be going away in our lifetime.  We must consider that the way in which we look at books today will be different 10 years from now, even 1 year from now.  Why can’t books include video, hyperlinks, engagement platforms?  I wouldn’t have imagined that most of my books were purchased in digital form and accessible for instant purchase without leaving their homes or that they need an LED screen to read them.  Publishing is going through an exciting transformation.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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