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Old 01-01-2013, 11:19 PM   #16
fjtorres
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Small publishers have limited financial resources. If you want to publish 100 titles a year, you'll need a bunch of editors and support staff.
Yes, you would.
And if you try it without those capabilities you'll be guilty of overreach.
So the failure, in that case, would not be for being small but for not knowing how to be small. Which is another way of saying: mismanagement.

Businesses fail all the time and being small is rarely the cause, just as being big is rarely the reason for success.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:30 AM   #17
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So the failure, in that case, would not be for being small but for not knowing how to be small. Which is another way of saying: mismanagement.
And no capital is another cause of failure. In other words, not realizing you shouldn't have started the business in the first place.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:36 AM   #18
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And no capital is another cause of failure. In other words, not realizing you shouldn't have started the business in the first place.
In which case you don't have anything worth acquiring.
So the scenario has no bearing on the big or small publisher debate.

There's lots of ways to fail; few to succeed. And growing really really big is not likely to be a road to "success" for much longer. Carpet-bombing the market with random titles hoping for one big instant success is a dying strategy; the "instant success" payouts are getting smaller as the definition of what a Bestseller is eroding away.

The logic behind the wave of BPH consolidation mergers being proposed isn't about working capital or producing more new titles anymore, it is about reducing overhead: reducing staff and fixed costs and increasing the number of titles in catalog via merger. It's about the backlist, not about new titles.
That's why the Authors Guild is suddenly concerned about the big boys getting bigger.
The newly emergent Giant Publishing Houses are not looking to be producing more new titles than their precursors combined (or even as many) but less. What they *are* looking to do is what the music studios did during the transition to CD and the Movie studios did during the transition to DVD: flood the market with the backlist. Grow revenue while shrinking the staff size and capital requirements.

That should work long enough for the golden parachutes to vest. And maybe a bit longer.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:37 PM   #19
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There's lots of ways to fail; few to succeed. And growing really really big is not likely to be a road to "success" for much longer. Carpet-bombing the market with random titles hoping for one big instant success is a dying strategy; the "instant success" payouts are getting smaller as the definition of what a Bestseller is eroding away.
And this is what the smaller publishers are doing also just on a smaller scale. Hoping one of their few titles earn enough profit to pay their staff is too risky.

From what I read these publishers say they can't compete with the self-publishing system Amazon and others have created. A person now can put a few words together, pay $100 for "editing" and upload to Amazon for 70% net.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:38 PM   #20
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Forgot to mention that I think it's hard for both big and small publishers to succeed in this business.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:46 PM   #21
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It's hard for anyone to succeed in any business. Just notice the number of small business of every type that open and close at the local strip mall. Obviously, any small business needs enough money to get by while they are building up a clientele. One rule of thumb is that you should have one year's expenses available.

I can think of several ways that a small publisher could handle things so they need less up front money. One way is having the author, editor and others work on a percentage basis, i.e. each person gets a percentage from each book sold. Another way would be to pay piece work rather than have permanent employees. Or some combination there of.

I would also say that role of a publisher may change a bit in the future. I would not be surprised if we see more publishers like Baen in the future that are more focused on offering a consistent selection(call it genres, styles of books, whatever) for the readers, while handling all the non writing duties (ranging from editing, art work, publicity, social media to connect with the fans, various gimmicks to introduce readers to a new writer, etc...) for the authors.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:08 PM   #22
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Book publishing is no different than any other business that develops and sells a product.

Money is only going out.
Idea (author slush or contract for a story)
Market research (does this fit into our product line)
Marketing and Advertising (Hype it up , create demand)
Product design, debug (Editing, proofing and Artwork).
Release to Manufacture (Roll the presses )

If you are lucky, the money may start to come in about here
Fulfillment (delivery)
More Advertising (Author signings)
Customer support (this may be a B&M store, not the end, Retail customer)
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:03 PM   #23
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I
I would also say that role of a publisher may change a bit in the future. I would not be surprised if we see more publishers like Baen in the future that are more focused on offering a consistent selection(call it genres, styles of books, whatever) for the readers, while handling all the non writing duties (ranging from editing, art work, publicity, social media to connect with the fans, various gimmicks to introduce readers to a new writer, etc...) for the authors.
Baen has enjoyed a significant first mover advantage in the e-book realm.

But it's not scalable. You can't have 3000 niche publishers all imitating Baen - no one would ever be able to find a book.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:28 AM   #24
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Baen has enjoyed a significant first mover advantage in the e-book realm.

But it's not scalable. You can't have 3000 niche publishers all imitating Baen - no one would ever be able to find a book.
Depends - if they all did what Baen did recently, they could find it at Amazon. 30,000 publishers, one retailer.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:45 AM   #25
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no big deal, self-publishing is definitely the way to go unless you are set to have a huge hit and in that case you can always re-release or maybe just obtain distribution.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:53 PM   #26
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Actually I think that 3000 niche publishers would _help_ people find books that they may like. Ever try to browse through amazon's books by publishing date order? I would like to scan through just the books in a genre since the last time I visited. Instead I have to wade through page after page after page of drek put in by people gaming the Amazon system, usually porn or PD books for a buck. If I could get a feed from Baen, Tor and whomever else might be publishing SF/F or even just visit the web pages every so often to see what is new, then I would probably buy a lot more books.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:08 PM   #27
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Actually I think that 3000 niche publishers would _help_ people find books that they may like.
I don't think that wading through 300 feeds a day would be an improvement over Amazon, where at least you can search by author or title. With 3000 separate publishers, you'd have to search each publisher's database unless you knew which of the 3000 publishers you wanted.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:39 PM   #28
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I don't think that wading through 300 feeds a day would be an improvement over Amazon, where at least you can search by author or title. With 3000 separate publishers, you'd have to search each publisher's database unless you knew which of the 3000 publishers you wanted.
The point is that there won't be 3000 publishers who do books that you are interested in. Most people have certain types of books they like, certain genres. For example, I like SF/F, adventure and history, so I'm not likely to be visiting all the romance publishers. How many SF/F publishers are there? Perhaps 3 to 4 major ones and a couple very small ones, certainly no more than 10 or 12. Saying there would be 3000 publishers is a bit like saying there are 300 million people in the US when I'm trying to find Ed Rothschild in Atlanta, Ga. I only have to look in Atlanta, not the entire US.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:09 PM   #29
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The point is that there won't be 3000 publishers who do books that you are interested in. Most people have certain types of books they like, certain genres. For example, I like SF/F, adventure and history, so I'm not likely to be visiting all the romance publishers. How many SF/F publishers are there? Perhaps 3 to 4 major ones and a couple very small ones, certainly no more than 10 or 12. Saying there would be 3000 publishers is a bit like saying there are 300 million people in the US when I'm trying to find Ed Rothschild in Atlanta, Ga. I only have to look in Atlanta, not the entire US.
About 2000 new sf/fantasy books come out each year. If each publisher is the size of baen, that cuts it down to a manageable 25 publishers. Which still doesn't strike me as being particularly manageable. (And I'm not sure what adding adventure and history would do to that number).

I would much rather go to *one* place (say, Amazon), and be able to find everything there.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:25 PM   #30
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I'm sure that you will be able to. Just because there are a bunch of publishers, doesn't mean that the books won't be available via Amazon or the normal array of bookstores both dead tree and ebook. I'm not quite so sure that there are 2000 new SF/F books per year. That would be around 250 books per month. As far as I can tell, assuming we are talking about books that actually are available in book stores, there are more along the lines of 20-30 new SF/F books per month and that number has stayed pretty steady over the last 20 years.
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