Friday, February 22, 2013

Cheating in book publishing?

When I was in 10th grade, a buddy and I took German One. I was called “Otto”. When time came for our first test, my friend spent hours sharpening a pencil to a fine point and writing microscopic crib notes on a piece of paper that would fit in his palm. I invested the same amount of time just studying and learning the material. That just seemed to be the better route. I’ve worked with enough authors to understand why Kevin Small has a business that includes managing cash register sales to drive a new book onto best seller lists. I understand the cachet (and bi$$ing) that come along with the NYT or WSJ imprimatur. But – as I’ve told countless authors, including Soren Kaplan, there isn’t necessarily a connection between making a (highly suspect in terms of integrity) bestseller list and making an impact. All of the time invested in the careful manipulation of sales could be turned toward engaging the author’s audience on a parallel track with the editorial development of the book. Building both the readership and the book to a crescendo (some dare call it Publication Date) result in IMPACT. The more successful an author is in mobilizing their readership, and turning them into advocates, the more IMPACT the author will have. When I speak with authors, I ask ‘what is your goal’? Most of them really want to change the world. Sometimes – and I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on a number of these books – the byproduct of having made a major IMPACT is an appearance on a bestseller list. That’s why I work in publishing – to help authors make an impact. Not a bestseller list. I guess I figured that out in the 10th grade.