Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blockbuster Strategy - Good for Agents, Top Authors

but certainly not good for making money. Irrelevant for authors with any goals outside of collecting the guaranteed revenue from the advance. I'm the first to agree that in the case of Myron's DEWEY - great for Vicki. And a nice job by the agent to whip up the level of excitement that earned that big advance. But let's keep it real. How many books have been peddled by agents over the past few years as "sure to appeal to the Marley & Me audience". For that matter - how many times have editors heard "this is the next big vampire book" since Anne Rice's INTERVIEW or even Bram Stoker's DRACULA.

What are the goals of the WSJ in publishing this article by HBS professor Anita Elberse? Sell papers, of course. And the goals of Prof. Elberse? Perhaps to paint the incestuous, dying world of traditional book publishing with a patina of respectability? It's over, kids. Publishing casino is fun while you've got the chips in your pocket, you have some luck at the wheel and your boss isn't too picky about the return they see from their publishing business. The house wins in the end.

Dewey isn't a hit because of the brilliant strategy of anyone at Grand Central, or B&N. And isn't this (Grand Central) the same division that Time Warner sold off a few years ago ? Grand Central is having a great run at the tables for now - but they are still making more money on Salinger's back list than they'll ever make pursuing a blockbuster strategy.

It's the author, stupid. It's the energy and focus they bring to the process. It's their ability to connect with their audience and motivate their fans to become advocates for their ideas. No publisher, no advance, no agent will substitute for that.

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