Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Journey to Getting Published - The Long Tail of the Publishing Industry.

I have begun to put together a book that covers the ways that online stores can thrive through better design, development and long tail marketing. The unique part about the book is that it's told from an insider's perspecive and chronicles the success and failures of over 100 online stores. The annoted outline is completed as well as the beginings of the first chapter. I've also completed the author's bio, marketing plan, target audience analysis and, competitive analysis. Through the process of familiarizing myself with the ways that the publishing industry works, I have discovered a really long tail -- Print on Demand Publishing.

From all of my research the publishing industry breaks down into 3 separate categories. The big publishing houses like Hyperion, Random House etc. These company's publish most of the best sellers each year, do not take unsolicited manuscripts, and only work through literary agents. They also are willing to pay advances to writers in exchange for the rights to publish the book.

Then there are the self publishing book printers. This is also known as vanity publishing. You pay them to publish your book, in return the author keeps a higher percentage of revenue per book sale. These companies will publish anything.

In between these two sets of publishers is the Print on Demand publishers. These companies will not pay anything to the writer in advance, but will not charge the writer to publish the book either. They keep a low inventory of books on hand, and then print copies from digital files as orders come in. The Print on Demand publishers can have thousands and thousands of books that they might publish each year in extremely small quantities. This business model leaves most authors with insubstantial income from their low book sales, but can represent significan income for the publishers. Also, if you examine Amazon.com's long tail of books that it sells, you will find that the vast majority of them are from Print on Demand publishers.

What does this all mean for the book that I'm writing? Well, I will not go the vanity press route. Even though I feel that the book has merit and there is an audience of people looking for better ways of running their online business. I am actively looking for a literary agent, although they seem to either not be very websavvy or purposly do not want to be found. I suspect that it's a little of both. Ideally, if I could find an agent who could present the book to the teir 1 and 2 publishers, then I could concentrate on writing the book and preparing the marketing.

What is most likely to happen is that I end up publishing with a Print On Demand publisher, and hoping that through recommendations and Amazon's long tail, along with my own marketing efforts, my book can be found and purchased.

If all else fails I'll take the content that I'm developing and use it to continue to develop my online properties. Until then, anyone know a good literary agent for non-fiction business/internet guides?

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