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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The journey to publication 

So the blogosphere en masse is linking to Andy Kessler's article about his path from self publication to big five success, saying that "in the age of digital page layout and Web marketing, you can do it yourself," he concludes. "Quick to market will eventually change the big guys." Laila touches upon my biggest beef with Kessler's reasoning, but I'll go further: sorry, Andy, the world, and certainly the publishing industry, can't move as fast as you'd like it to.

It ties in with my earlier rant today about getting the right people for the right job. Sure, you can dash something off quickly, slap a cover on, print it with the best quality paper and self-publish, making it available at Amazon. But then what? Will regular bookstores stock it? Will distributors? If folks like Baker & Taylor or Ingram won't carry the book, forget about wider distribution. Forget about walking into your local bookstore and finding said book, because it won't be there. Publishers have to start within their own company, making sure that sales reps, publicists, cover artists, designers, editors, assistants work together and find a slot where, ideally, the book will most benefit from and will find its widest audience. And Kessler also had the following to benefit from: sending out "copies to friends and old contacts at newspapers, business magazines and TV, like CNBC." So once again, the contacts game was in his favor. Not everyone has such a network in place, though. So then what?

And one thing else to consider is that publishing lines only publish a finite number of books. They don't want to flood the market and start over-competing with other books. So why the "delay" in publication? Beacuse that's the only slot the book can get and get the maximum attention. Should it change? Sure, but I don't see it happening now, and I certainly don't see it happening eventually.

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