Sic Transit?

Dan Reid pointed out to me a comment left on a sister IVP blog, Addenda & Errata.

The comment: Tell us what you think about a piece by Steven Piersanti, president of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, titled “The 10 Awful Truths About Book Publishing.”

The response: This brief piece with a provocative title is a reality check for everyone connected to book publishing.

As John Adams told us two centuries ago, facts are stubborn things. And Piersanti has the facts. Too many books. Too few readers. Fewer bookstores. The digital revolution. And more. Every publisher, editor, marketer, publicist, author and agent needs to recognize that while the glory days may not be gone forever, they are certainly on a long vacation.

Perhaps Piersanti’s statement that “most book marketing today is done by authors, not by publishers,” is a bit overstated. Publishers still do a lot, and have massive lists of contacts, years of relational capital and accumulated corporate expertise that they make use of every day for every book. But he is right that publishers expect more from authors and authors are doing much more to promote their own books than was the case ten years ago.

Piersanti also has some strategies for responding to his stubborn facts. And they are worth listening to as well. Stick to your brand and emphasize it every chance you get. Recognize readers are impatient for a payoff. And he’s got more. Not all seven ideas are right for every publisher, but every publisher can probably make good use of some.

IVP’s Dave Zimmerman also thinks the seven probably apply differently to different books even from the same publisher.

Two examples from our recent releases illustrate his point. Kent Annan’s Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle is being promoted in part by way of a sponsored trip to Haiti to see the work of the author’s organization firsthand. “Win a Trip to Haiti” employs #2 and #3 on Piersanti’s list–“Events/immersion experiences replace traditional publicity” and “Leverage the authors’ and publishers’ communities.”

On the other hand John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One is built around a big new idea (#6)–a scholar’s dramatic new interpretation of a foundational text in the Bible.

The seven ideas, however, are not silver bullets. But they are positive directions we can move in. Oh, yes–and Merry Christmas!

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.