Saturday, July 19, 2008

Follow the Trends to Publishing Success

Consider the following headlines from recent trade and consumer publications and see if you can spot the trend:
F+W Publications is Now F+W Media
Young Authors Turn Online Collaboration into Book Deal
Unbound: Publishers worry as new technologies transform their industry
Bowker Reports U.S. Book Production Flat in 2007: Traditional publishing steady, but "on demand" publishing soars as new technologies reduce barriers to entry
Authors Find Their Voice, and Audience, in Podcasts
Book Not Ready for Print? Whip Up an Audiobook for Now
Use Podcasts to Promote Your Books
Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal
Thumbs Race as Japan's Best Sellers Go Cellular
Penguin Sees Major e-Book Sales Spike

I'm sure by now you get the gist. Technology advances have played havoc on the staid publishing industry and now even the most conservative of the big houses are shifting their focus to include ebooks, interactive media and audio-visual formats. Well, it's about time, considering innovative authors and communicators have been doing it for years.

The good news for aspiring authors is that today you don't need someone's approval to present your message to your intended audience. I believe there will always be the place for the big publishing houses and literary agents, but it's not the only game in town anymore. Please understand that this is not an invitation to put out poor quality work; doing so will result in failure in any market. What this means is that now your voice has a choice.

Don't let age or lack of knowledge stop you. I wasn't born cable-ready (like my children), either. It's no harder to find out how to blog, build a website, start an ezine or create a podcast than it is to learn how to write a query letter, find and agent or prepare a book proposal. If you are open and receptive to the fabulous world that technology is making available to us, you can see your writing career soar.

If you're still intent on securing a traditional publishing contract, remember that today's big houses consider the value of a prospective author's platform as a huge portion of the acceptance criteria. There's no better and quicker way to build your platform than a blog, YouTube and social media. If you don't know what I'm talking about, hire an intern or assistant from your local college, ask your kids or grandkids--but learn how to do it. Do it now.

You can start by subscribing to some of the print and online resources I used to get the headlines quoted in this article. Most of these publications offer free online versions or ezines. They are: The New York Times, Publishers Weekly [PW Daily],,, Communications Solutions, Globe and Mail,, Bowker and Writer's Digest.

Many of the articles I read come to my attention through the use of Google key word alerts. In an upcoming post, I'll cover how I use this free service to track the industry trends and my own progress.

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