Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Book Publishing Statistics

I just finished reading Susan Driscoll's book, Get Published. And here are some insights I got from that book about how traditional publishing works. But first to start with some statistics


  • As of 2005, the book publishing industry in the US was worth $5.2 billion. And there was already a 10% decrease of titles published this year compared to 2004

  • Five publishing conglomerates control 80% of books sales and together they have published 23 thousand titles. That's less than 5% of all books published

  • 87% of retail bookstore sales in 2004 came from only 7% of the books published that year. Translated to units, that's less than 1,200 new titles selling 50,000 copies or more

  • The rest of the books, the other 93% - sold less than 1,000 copies each

Based on that, if you manage to sell more than 10,000 copies of your book, you will be considered a success in the book publishing arena. Then you'll be a best-seller! At least you'll be in the 90% percentile and better than 22 thousand other titles.

No wonder traditional book publishers are very picky about who they want to publish and how careful they are about accepting manuscripts. Major book publishers must lose a lot of money on a majority of the books they publish.

If you take it from this perspective, it will be easier to understand that they must acquire and promote titles that have high probability of selling. In any case, book publishing is still a business regardless of how passionate writers are about their manuscripts. Publishing companies need to make the money.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Random House Markets Coupland's Latest Novel In YouTube

Douglas Coupland's new novel "The Gum Thief" published by Random House will be marketed with a series of videos which were posted on Youtube recently.

The videos follow the book's theme in the form of narratives from the protagonist perspective as well as that of other characters from the book.

This is a new way of marketing for the book and is projected to interest younger markets into reading contemporary fiction.

Traditional book publishers such as Random House are turning towards more contemporary forms of advertising as well. It is smart to target Youtube as part of their marketing campaign. Wonder if their strategic partner in print on demand would offer that too...

Set SMART Goals When Writing Your Book

I have learned that in order to accomplish something (well anything actually), particularly your long awaited manuscript, you should establish goals for yourself. Famous authors (like Dan Brown) I've heard set strict regimen to their writing routine. Nobody became an overnight best-seller. It takes time to write the perfect story or the ideal novel.

A writing tip would be to make your goals SMART (that's an acronym for)
  • S - Specific. Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Make sure they are operationally defined, meaning they are described in such a way that you know the final output. For example for people who probably have more time in their hands, I will write 2 pages a day or for the busier folks, I will invest 4 hours of my time weekly to writing.
  • M - Manageable. Don't be over enthusiastic about your current project that you decide to allocate your whole day to one particularly activity and neglecting everything else. What will happen is that you will end up with a whole lot of back log the next day, or worse, you'll burn yourself out and not write at all. Manage your writing career as you would all the other important aspects of your life - in moderation and balance.
  • A - Attainable. Set goals that are attainable. If you raise the bar too high, this might just discourage you and you end up not accomplishing anything at all. You don't need to finish writing your book tomorrow (unless you've got an offer lined up and you really need to, but really). This is more often than not, the cause for writer's block. The pressure to c0mplete your book becomes too much to handle and you end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Make sure that the goals you set for yourself are within your means to achieve.
  • R - Realistic. Life is full of unexpected surprises. Your sister might get pregnant or your office might want you to go on an overseas conference. Make sure you allow some break time in between your goals, or cut yourself some slack. In a perfect world, there is time for everything. However in the real world, time for one thing will cut into time allocated for other things. So when setting your writing goals take into account a day or two of possible diversions.
  • T - Time. Time is not always on your side, but time is what you make it. Your goals should always be tied to time. You should stick to it. As long as you have set allowances and were realistic about your goals, you should have given yourself enough time to achieve your target for set periods.

As long as your goals are SMART and you stick to them. Be persistent and surely you will be able to see a finished manuscript within a year or so into writing (depending of course on your goal).

I want to get published. How do I start?

Well first of all, if you want to get published you need to have something to publish. Publishers these days, especially the ones whom you have to pay to publish you work i.e. iUniverse, Authorhouse, Xlibris, Booksurge and Trafford. They all tell you that they'll publish whatever you've got - stories, poems, photos, illustrations... what-have-you. But needless to say, all will be for naught if you have nothing to begin with. You'll be throwing money away, spending on a publishing package (if you choose to pay for publishing) or wasting away your dream of becoming a best selling author if you don't start now.

Communication experts say that an average person speaks enough words to fill 2 pages single spaced everyday. That means people actually talk a lot, and if you put your mind to it, you can probably write a whole lot more. Everybody has a book in them. Everybody has a story to tell. And I quite agree. However everyone also has the tendency to procrastinate and everybody (well almost everybody) also needs a day job (or money anyway) so life's everyday obstacles actually get in the way of fulfilling the dream of becoming a successful author.

Well first of all, be realistic. Why are you writing? What are your motivations?
  • Is it for money of fame? Do you want to launch your writing career?
  • Is it to capture important life events? Are you writing for family and friends?
  • Is it for professional recognition? Are you an expert at what you do?

When you know your book's purpose and its audience or potential market, you will be able to decide how much time, money and effort you can allocate to making your book. So that's step number one: identify your book's purpose and your audience.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

If a 13-year old can do it, why can't I?

At 13, he became a published author
'DRAGON'S TALE': His mom made him an offer: If you finish it, we'll get it in print. Story from Anchorage Daily News by Becky Stoppa



A 13-year old got published just recently with Xlibris. Not published in the traditional sense where his manuscript is picked up by one of those big shot publishers and then commercialized. Not published in the sense that he gets paid in advance for royalties. It's the opposite kind where he paid his publisher $1200 to get published. I think that's what they call self publishing. It's not so bad I guess considering that he's 13 years old and now has a book to his name - plus a newspaper article too. Not a bad deal I guess