A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Free speech, literacy, and great books are also discussed. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Larchmont Losses Offer: Lessons To Publishers
I live in New Rochelle, New York, I tend to shop and hang in nearby
Larchmont. The cozy little town is about
30 minutes outside NYC—close enough to commute but far enough to feel you can
escape the jungle. The area is safe,
clean, and lined with trees. The
residents are in the nation’s top 8-10%, by wealth. But what it is not rich in is smart
commercial landlords. Book publishing can learn a few lessons from them over
what not to do.
the onset of the Great Recession, Larchmont has lost more small business than
any of the nearby Westchester towns, or so it appears to the naked eye. Even with a recession as bad as this one—or
especially because of it—I would expect landlords to be more humble and find
tenants within a reasonable time period.
Some spaces have remained empty for over four years.
guess is that the first few empty stores were about landlord greed. They were holding out for big bucks that
never materialized. Lesson one: don’t
assume the marketplace is bigger than it really is.
next thing that happened is fewer shoppers came to town because fewer shopping
options were available to them. This
created a domino effect on the existing stores, leaving them to struggle to
find foot traffic. Lesson two: Your
business or ability to sell a book can be impacted by how many retail options
are available out there.
would guess one out of every three or four store fronts in a five-block radius
are empty in Larchmont. Verizon went out
last week. The Globe, a restaurant that
had been around a long time, went out last month. In the past four years only a few stores
found new tenant and one of those is a
place that should go under soon. They
sell pizzas that you order at the store but cook at home. Lesson three: Not every business is useful or
services a marketplace void. Make sure
your book has a readership base.
keep expecting the town’s elders—a mayor or city council or some rich
developer—to step in and remedy the fact the town is losing its commercial
base, but no hero has stepped to the plate.
Lesson four: Don’t expect a
savior to help your book. The big
corporate or organizational buy of your book is rare and even when it happens
you still need to take other steps to be viable.
though Larchmont is struggling, I see surrounding towns thriving. Mamaroneck established a restaurant row that
is awesome. White Plains has tons of
night spots. Port Chester has restaurants and shopping. New Rochelle hasn’t expanded its commercial
offerings but it hasn’t contracted, either.
Larchmont is going backwards.
Lesson five: Your competition
will divide up a limited supply of customers.
Your book needs to be better, different or more attractive than competing
Great Recession has taken a lasting toll on our nation’s economy and impacts
the book publishing world as well.
Larchmont may have mismanaged itself beyond the effects of the economic
slowdown but it’s obvious that if a rich town struggles that the country as a
whole is still in trouble. It means
authors and publishers have to work extra hard, extra longer, extra smarter—and
to be prepared to sell books at Kmart-pricing levels.
things will improve soon, but until then, remember not to make the mistakes of
the Larchmont landlords or you may just find your book for sale in an empty
Advice Would You Give A Struggling Writer?
First I nee to know
exactly what the struggle is. With the work itself: read read read, write
write write...start a creativity group where you read to three other people or
talk about your who give feedback if you want or just listening if you don’t
want...and they get the same benefit. It has worked wonders for many
people. If it is about publishing...there are so many options today, it boggles
my mind. Research like crazy.
I’ve desired to be a published author for many years. Every person I
meet, whether in critique groups, at writers’ conferences, through social
networks, or with the individual publishers to which I’ve been contracted have
taught me something about the business. Every little bit helps. I’ve met some
wonderful friends and contacts. In the critique groups I’ve seen some serious
writers, hopeful writers and writer wannabes. Just as in every type of group,
there are those who are very supportive and those one can do without. Lol. But
every person teaches, whether how to improve writing, or what to stay away from
At the conferences you not only meet well known authors, but agents and
publishers. They are contacts for possible future use. Plus, you are
associating with writers all looking for answers. I’ve gotten down underneath
the surface of social networking, but know there is still a lot more to be
done. Again, every little bit helps. With my publishers I’ve learned that
authors should do their homework and learn as much as possible before getting
involved with any publisher. Learn as much about the business as possible. The
publishing world is unique, but with many aspects of a lot of other businesses.
So far, it’s been a fun ride.
1) If you want to be a
professional writer, never work for free. You can work cheap if it is a
new area or medium for you, but get paid.
2) Seek advice and
critiques, but find your own way.
3) Be a writer first.
You can't fix what isn't there. Write first then revise/edit.
4) When submitting, do
your research, follow the guidelines and present yourself professionally.
Amy Munnell has been a
freelance writer for nearly 25 years. Her work has appeared in various
publications including the Chocolate for a Woman's Soul series, Saying
Goodbye, From the Heart: Vol.2 - More Stories of Love and Friendship, Points
North, ByLine, Athens Magazine and Georgia Magazine.
She is a member of the Southeastern Writers Association (http://southeasternwriters.org/),
serving as Publications Editor, Vice-President, and now Co-President.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this
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