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The new publisher is an organization that nurtures a community of interest. This organization specializes in a niche and has a brand that stands for a particular interest or activity. It strives to reach its readers on a personal level. Its primary activity will be to supply news stories and reviews of books and activities that fit the interests of its community. In the current state of the industry an author writes a book then finds an agent. The agent is an expert on publishers and their editors and has the pulse of what each editor is looking for; she works to sell author's works to the publisher. The publisher edits, designs, prints, distributes, and markets the book. Distribution is through wholesalers, which supply books to retail outlets, and finally the reader gets to see the book at the end of this long chain. An ancillary group, the reviewers, help users decide what to read. Thus the current model adds many middle layers with almost no connection with the reader. For the majority of books this whole middle layer has come to rely increasingly on the author to connect to readers and even when a publisher actively promotes a book it resorts to mass-market approaches, such as advertising and book tours, that are blind to who their actual audience is. Exceptional authors are able to gather a community of interest around themselves and promote their book, but to assume that this is the new paradigm is a fallacy since the majority of authors, many with worthy books and potentially an eager audience, are not adept at publicity and selfpromotion. For the reader this whole system is a nightmarish tangle of disorganized information. A highly motivated few venture to navigate this tangle but the majority give up and resort to impulse buying. Once in a long while, readers pick up information from mass marketing campaigns and buy a book in droves, but that happens only when the campaign is of gigantic proportions and is supported heavily by word of mouth. The introduction of new book technologies such as Kindle, and the Sony Reader, as well as the proliferation of print-on-demand eliminates the need for wholesalers and distributors for a growing number of readers. It is more than likely that in the near future this number will come to dominate the market. Publishers and agents will be at risk as the business of distribution is eliminated and printed books become a decorative item. In the new model--the way forward--certain individuals specialize in maintaining a community of interest. These individuals by nature are strong on research (or are supported by a powerful research staff) and excel at connecting with people. They attend conferences, maintain blogs, and go where the readers are, and they energize a following by their dynamism. Such individuals, supported by their staff, are hungry for new books and new voices and actively search them out in order to feed and nurture Their communities.


One such person is Oprah Winfrey operating through her book club. The name Oprah is synonymous with tackling everyday life issues. Any book she recommends to her book club is guaranteed to have phenomenal success thanks to the vast community that she maintains through her talk show. But such success is not necessary for the majority of authors. A much lower level of success, say selling 20,000 books would happily maintain a vast cadre of authors who passionately explore and write about their interests. Surviving on such low volume sales is especially true due to new electronic publishing technologies and their much larger royalty structure. For example, Amazon will pay 35% royalties on books published for Kindle. What these authors need is a partnership with thousands of lesser-known celebrities that maintain a rich diversity of interest groups, recommending books that advance their cause or interest. The only question is if such groups can be credible if they share in the royalties of the books they recommend. Amazon has already set up such a system through their affiliates program. This program shares royalties with the owners of websites that refer a sale. It creates a separation of sorts between promoter and writer, for the promoter (web community owner) can recommend books and share in revenues without ever having contacted the author. But the real question is if revenue-sharing can follow a traditional publishing model where the publisher vets authors and enters into royalty agreements. Being published by a well-known publisher adds instant credibility to an author and, all things being equal, enhances the chances of the book being reviewed and noticed. No one ever questions the credibility of this system even though publishers actively promote their books. I believe that direct revenue sharing is possible provided certain principles are upheld to maintain trust: New publishers (i.e. individuals nurturing a community of interest) maintain the same strict standards as current publishers for vetting and choosing authors they recommend. New publishers put the interests of their community first and do not just aim to manipulate readers into buying a book. They must serve their community first. Publishers are genuinely part of their community of interest. They are passionate about the interests they represent and are not simply turning up to post empty words to make another buck. Publishers use every technique possible to reach their readers on a personal level. The Mass market approach, though still useful at times, is no longer sufficient for this new paradigm. In summary, new publishing houses will be led by individuals who are passionate about an interest that fits a particular niche of readers and are able to connect on a human level with their community of interest. They have to have genuine concern for their community and live to serve. And they must see people as real individuals with lives and concerns rather than just numbers on an accounting sheet.

Safa Alai Creativity, Imagination, Ideas, and The Way Forward


http://www.safaalai.com

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Publish Today By Eliminating The Middle Men