Saturday, July 21, 2012

Publishing Consolidation Positions Penguin Well

There is no doubt that as profit margins become tighter, and as competition becomes fiercer, there will be consolidation in any industry. In the case of book publishing, I predict there will be plenty of it. One kind of merging taking place is the combination of traditional publishers and self-publishing factories. Self-publishing is the popular craze these days, especially when an author can’t get published by a traditional publisher or even represented by a literary agent, can’t wait 12-18 months to be published, or doesn’t believe a publisher can serve them any better than they can themselves.

Pearson, the London-based owner of Penguin, just bought Author Solutions, which itself reflects the combinations of several companies. Author Solutions is a self-publishing machine, allowing individual authors, for very little upfront money, to publish their books quickly and effectively, via print-on-demand and ebooks. Author Solutions is one of the largest companies to offer self-publishing services to authors, including iUniverse and Author House in its stable.

Penguin’s purchase gains them access to a catalog of over 150,000 titles and it positions them to cover the fast-growing segment of self-publishing.

Will there be more mergers and acquisitions ahead for publishing? Absolutely. The only question is which model will gain market share: traditional publishing or self-publishing? I guess Penguin has both covered, the way many publishers now sell ebooks and print books and audiobooks to cover all formats, selling online and brick and mortar, to cover all sales channels. Diversification is key in the publishing industry and Penguiin has just edged ahead of many of its competitors.

Interview With Horror and Sci-Fi Author Sonia O’Brien

1.      What types of books do you write? I really like to write apocalyptic stories. Big catastrophes that make ordinary people have to deal with extraordinary circumstances. I like to keep the characters realistic and have them not always make the right decisions or say the right things. They can sometimes be their own worst enemies. So I guess, what I really like is exploring characters and their good and bad through the lens of great global turmoil.

2.      What is your latest book about?  I just released Disintegration. A story about a character named Ainslie McCandless who is a government worker who accidentally stumbles upon a program of human torture and murder via the use of a biological weapon. She is deep down a good and compassionate person, and when she finds out, she just can’t let it go. She hopes to gather a bit of information and try and expose what’s happening, but she stumbles upon so much more. And, as all great plans usually do, it goes horribly wrong and the virus is unleashed on the public, and she is left on the run with the evidence she collected. After some twists and turns, she ends up trapped in a bunker with a group of survivors. From there it delves into the characters and how they handle the outbreak and the isolation. And then everything comes to a head in a large apocalyptic ending.

3.      What inspired you to write? As early as I can remember, my Grandmother would sit me on her lap and read to me. Those are some of my best memories. It really left an impression on me. By the time I was 3, I was reading the books to her. But, I’m not too sure I actually understood all the words. I may have just been repeating what I had memorized. But, that put me on the path to a great love of books my whole life. And, over the years, I just kept being pulled more and more to write a novel, and finally I just couldn’t ignore that inner drive. It has turned out to be one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done, and now I’ll never stop writing.

4.      What did you do before you became an author? I worked in the medical field while I was in the Navy, and then I transitioned into executive assisting for too many years to count. Right now, on top of writing, my husband and I are starting our own virtual assisting business.

5.      How does it feel to be a published author? I can hardly describe the happiness I felt when I saw my book and name on Amazon. After so many years of work, for it to have finally happened was just wonderful. But, then the fear set in for just a moment, about sales and marketing and all the business things that come along with being published. But, I am prepared for and welcome all of it, because it’s my dream.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers? Just to keep writing. Get that first book out and immediately start the next one. Don’t get bogged down in putting everything you have into selling that first book while ignoring your continuing career. Once you build up a fan base, they’re going to want more and more of your work, which is what we all hope for. But, you have to take the time to write it and get it out there. So, temper your marketing efforts with time to write.

7.      Where do you see book publishing heading?  I definitely think publishing houses will have to beef up their e-publishing departments and probably cut back some on their print business. I think print books will always remain, but I think there will be a large market for print books with artistic, collectible covers. More and more people are going electronic and I think finally publishing houses are catching on. But, there is still a long way to go with averaging out the price of e-books.  Hopefully we can all find a happy medium where authors are getting paid what their work is worth, but that publishing houses aren’t gouging customers.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. 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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