Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Insider's Guide to Book Publishing Success

We're very pleased to spotlight The Insider's Guide to Book Publishing, written by our friends at independent distributor Midpoint Trade Books: Eric Kampmann, Margot Atwell, and Sarah Lucie. Given the drastic shifts in the publishing industry in the past few years, this book could not be more timely. It is truer now than ever before that absolutely anyone can write and publish a book, yet the process remains daunting and opaque to most people outside the industry. This book will go a long way toward demystifying and illuminating the right steps to take on your publishing journey, helping prospective authors determine the best way to bring their books into the world. 

Gotham Ghostwriters spoke with Margot Atwell about the relevance of this book, the publishing industry today, and their new hybrid publishing division, Midpoint Plus.

Without revealing your secrets, can you give me a brief overview of what's covered in the book?
There are no secrets in the book, just straightforward information about publishing that we've learned from years (and, for Eric, decades) of experience in the publishing industry. It is divided into sections, each of which covers one aspect of publishing. "Publishing Overview" describes seven different publishing options for authors, from publishing with a major house to independent publishing with a distributor to an e-book-only launch. Other sections cover the manuscript, production, sales and distribution (two areas many authors know very little about), marketing and publicity, and finance. We also include case studies written by authors and industry professionals to show what a success story looks like from the inside, and how hard it is to make a book successful.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing aspiring authors today?
Right now is a fantastic time to be an author, and options for publishing have proliferated to the point that whatever an author wants to do, he or she can do. There are so many different ways to publish a book, in e-book format or print. Tons of great writers who might have been overlooked by the major houses in the past can take their writing careers in their own hands and publish their own books, build their own markets, and see greater rewards than they would have under the traditional publishing model.

The greatest challenge facing authors is there is not enough information from reputable sources about how to make publishing decisions. Many authors decide to self-publish their books without knowing what it takes to do so, or what all the steps are. I see many authors looking to industry experts for help, and sometimes they find generous, knowledgeable people who can steer them in the right direction, while other times they find people who are much more interested in making money than in working with an author to find out what is right for his or her book. Authors can make unnecessary and costly investments in seminars that aren't helpful, cover designers who overcharge and under-deliver, or printing way too many copies of their book without any way to bring it to the market.

We wrote The Insider's Guide to Book Publishing Success to demystify the publishing process for people who have never seen it from the inside, and to arm them with the right questions to ask themselves and the people they might work with. We hope it will be a valuable tool for authors and new publishers.

Why was now the right time to bring this book out?
The industry is changing fast, and technology is allowing authors to publish their own books more easily and economically than ever before. At the same time, and probably because of that, self-publishing is losing the stigma it once had, and many more people are turning to self- and independent publishing. Even Book Expo America is acknowledging the massive rise in self-publishing with this weekend's UPublishU event at the Javits Center. We will be there giving away free copies of our book, so please stop by and say hi! We'll be at Booth #4345.

What makes your team uniquely qualified to write this book?
Eric has forty years of book sales and distribution experience. He has worked with independent book publishers since 1981, and has owned and run Midpoint, a distributor for over 250 independent publishers, since 1996. He has seen many major changes in the publishing industry and can put the current shifts in a broader context.

I am the Publisher of Beaufort Books, an independent publisher distributed by Midpoint Trade Books, so I have much more of an editorial and marketing background. This helps round out the book and give readers a wider view of publishing. We also called on other publishing professionals to provide information for key sections, such as special sales and social media.

Tell me more about Midpoint Plus.
We created Midpoint Plus to fill a need that we started to see more and more. Frequently, great authors who are becoming first-time publishers will approach Midpoint Trade Books looking for distribution. However, the learning curve for a first-time publisher is enormous, and most often, these authors' books would fail because they had overlooked one (or more) important piece of the publishing puzzle. Midpoint Plus is a publishing services company that can assist, guide, and mentor new publishers. We can help with just one part of the process—like finding and working with a cover designer to achieve a great professional-looking cover, or developing and implementing a marketing plan—or we can help with the entire process, from manuscript development to getting the books on bookstore shelves and beyond. Our books get national distribution into bookstores, wholesalers, online retailers, and appropriate specialty accounts through Midpoint Trade Books, and we have a very sales-oriented vision, which sets us apart from many other book doctors, book shepherds, and consultants, most of whom have an editorial background and might not be able to provide such holistic assistance or access to sales and distribution.

Margot Atwell is the Publisher of Beaufort Books, an independent book publisher based in New York City, and Director of Midpoint Plus, a publishing services company founded in 2011. Before joining Beaufort Books in 2006, she worked at the Irene Skolnick Literary Agency. When she is not working on books, she plays Gotham Girls Roller Derby under the publishing-appropriate moniker Em Dash.


Robert Withers said...

This looks interesting. I wonder where/when it will be available. It doesn't appear on Amazon and there's no purchase link on the publisher's site.

Unknown said...

It has been early-released for industry insiders and this week's Book Expo, but will be available to the public in a few months.