Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Why Does It Take So Long?

The New York Times published an interesting essay by Rachel Donadio about Waiting for It. The essay explains why traditional publishing takes so much longer to produce a book than a vanity press does. The answer is not just the editing that's put into the book but the amount of work that goes into publicity for the book.

As soon as a literary agent has sold a publisher a book, and even before it’s edited, copy-edited, proofread and indexed, the publicity wheels start turning. While writers bite their nails, the book editor tries to persuade the in-house sales representatives to get excited about the book, the sales representatives try to persuade retail buyers to get excited, and the retail buyers decide how many copies to buy and whether to feature the book in a prominent front-of-the-store display, for which publishers pay dearly. In the meantime, the publisher’s publicity department tries to persuade magazine editors and television producers to feature the book or its author around the publication date, often giving elaborate lunches and parties months in advance to drum up interest.

Chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders generally buy books at least six months before the publication date and know about particular titles even farther in advance.

I got a heads-up about this article from the Writer's Beware blog where Victoria Strauss goes on to say:

One of the most basic misapprehensions of would-be self-publishers, and also of the amateur publishers..., is that it's what you do after a book goes on the market that generates volume sales. But in the increasingly competitive world of publishing, books must be sold long before the public can actually buy them. For most books, post-publication publicity is effective only if it can build on a platform already established by careful pre-publication marketing.

She also meantions news about self-promotion by authors networking on MySpace and similar sites:
According to this article in The Register, people are getting bored with social networking. Apparently, "Bebo, MySpace and Facebook all took double-digit percentage hits in the last months of 2007. December could perhaps be forgiven as a seasonal blip when people see their real friends and family, but the trend was already south."

Hope this was helpful information.

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