by Ingrid Bens, M.Ed, CPF

The world of book publishing as we know it today barely resembles the world of book publishing in pre-internet days. Books come in so many new forms and formats today which didn’t even exist 25 years ago. Easy access to self-publishing, both in print and online, print on demand, ebooks and e-readers are just a few of the major innovations the book publishing world has incorporated in addition to the traditional printing and retail selling of physical books.

Anyone wanting to get their words into distribution now has a dizzying array of choices. Should you try to work with a publisher or go it alone? How do you market a book when there are millions of competing books? Should you even bother to write a book at all? If not, what else can you do to get your ideas out there?

Before the Digital Age you could either self-publish or get a contract with a publisher. If you self-published you had to pay to have the book edited, typeset and printed. To save money you had to print at least 500 copies, which you then had to store. You also had to do all the marketing and ship them yourself. If a publisher accepted your book proposal, they would edit your book, print, store and ship it. They would also register your book with the two book distributors in the US: Ingram Books and Baker and Taylor. They would develop marketing material and would actively showcase your book at conferences and book fairs.

Then came the recession. Book sales plummeted, bricks-and-mortar stores closed, and Baker and Taylor almost went out of business. Publishers were forced to stop doing book marketing and cut their staff. Authors were told to develop their own marketing plans.

In 2012 Ingram decided to undercut publishers. Instead of just distributing the books publishers sent them, they created a direct publishing service, opening a new route to publishing for authors. They set up Lightning Source as a digital publishing service. Authors could set up a free account and upload their completed work.

Lightning Source places self-published books into their world-wide catalogue and also on Amazon. Books are only printed when they sell or when you order them to be sent to a customer. No need to keep boxes of books under the bed in the guest room, and you keep a bigger financial percentage of your book sales!

While all this was going on Amazon was busy demolishing the book business: wiping out small books stores left and right. To meet the demand for self-publishing a slew of other self- publishing companies popped up. There are pros and cons to each of them, so you need to do your research.

This session will give anyone who is currently thinking about publishing a book practical takeaways about how to approach the task. It will also be illuminating for anyone who simply wants to understand the dynamics of today’s book business.