Transparency is going to be a big feature of publishing in 2012. Traditional publishers are shirking Amazon’s vague operations by implementing portals for authors to check sales data and other information. See this NYT article for more about this feature in 2012.
With Oprah’s book club gone and broadsheet newspapers minimizing books coverage how are readers going to hear about your fantastic fiction? They need to be able to find it. Seems simple? It’s not. There are hundreds of thousands of books published in English each year. Use metadata, co-ops for front of store placement, author blog tours and other innovative methods of publicity to lead readers to discover your work. This is not only the publisher’s job. This is your job as a writer in 2012. From the recent FutureBook conference: “Discoverability starts with awareness and moves through attention and desire before action is taken to buying a book. This can be almost instant online. Personally, if I see a tweet recommending a book or from an author I network with, I immediately download the sample to my Kindle. If there’s no ebook, it’s a lost sale and I think I’m typical of the digital ‘heavy‘ reader market.”
DLP or Digital List Price
This is the price the rights holder places on a copy of their digital content. Unlike print books, digital list prices are easily changeable to encourage sales, optimize promotion with timely events, publishers can determine what prices best suit particular markets, and self-published authors can find their ‘sweet spot’ (where maximum dissemination meets revenue). For more see this PC World article and this NYT article about pricing.
DRM or Digital Rights Management
This is software encryption that discourages piracy and includes features like making your ebooks from the library disappear after the term of the loan. From TechTerms.com: “By controlling the trading, protection, monitoring, and tracking of digital media, DRM helps publishers limit the illegal propagation of copyrighted works. This can be accomplished by using digital watermarks or proprietary file encryption on the media they distribute. Whatever method publishers choose to employ, DRM helps them make sure that their digital content is only used by those who have paid for it.”
Enhanced and Amplified Ebooks
You thought you saw enhanced ebooks in 2011. What you’ll see in 2012 will make 2011’s ‘amplified’ ebook apps like On The Road look like a black and white moving picture. With the opportunities from EPUB 3 the multimedia of books will unfold like Alice in Wonderland.
From Digital Book World: ‘Built on HTML 5, another new programming language, audio, video and other sorts of multimedia can be inserted into book files. What was once the sole purview of apps and the Web is now bleeding into books.’ Wow. Can you imagine the possibilities?
Most basically, metadata is data that describes other data. The importance of correct metadata for ebooks cannot be understated. Want your book to have high SEO on Amazon? Make sure your metadata is correct at each level of tagging. More on metadata from FutureBook.
This has always been a strict contractual obligation, but was never at the forefront the way it was in 2011 and will continue to be in 2012. If you have a traditional publishing contract you need to tread carefully and advise with your agent about whether you can publish your own ebooks in the same window as your print books come to publication. For more see this NYT article about an author contracted to publish with Riverhead (Penguin) and their contract was cancelled due to a breach of the non-compete clause.
Think you heard enough about platform in 2011? Think again. In the words of Mike Shatzkin ‘every author who plans to make a living through writing and hasn’t yet built a platform has to think about having one.’
I am looking forward to what 2012 brings for the publishing world. It is no longer the wild west: leaders are emerging, new platforms are being developed, technology is reacting to content, authors are no longer able to be tertiary actors in the publishing plan, editors are thinking vertically, and agents are proactive mentors. Those who are dwelling on what was and what could have been are leaving themselves two steps behind and at the speed new technology is moving they might not be able to catch up.
Q: What did I miss? What is coming up in 2012 in your publishing circles?
[Image via Chapters.Indigo.ca]