In the article Book Covers: Do They Matter?, Melanie Figueroa from The Poetics Project discusses the importance of book cover design at marketing level, after having stumbled upon some statistics about booksellers’ view on the visual factor. She wittingly quotes Terri Giuliano Long’s article to argue that many readers do factor cover design into consideration when purchasing books online or in a bookshop, and while I agree with her that authors may not always be responsible for the quality of cover design, they certainly should take this aspect more seriously. True, the book writing itself is a piece of artwork and it is a shame that readers would not purchase your book because of the bad cover design, but wouldn’t a good design help you get across your message even more directly and add to the book’s artistic value?
In this interview with Jane Friedman, the bloggers of Book Venture share their view on why authors should pay attention to book design and hire professional designers, common mistakes that indie authors make during their book publishing process, how much a typical trade print paperback novel is expected to cost, and whether a print book and its electronic version should have different cover designs.
If you wish to go for a short read about visual design in book production, I recommend you check out Layout & Design: Good Looks Sell Books, in which Ahmad Meradji outlines the factors that you need to consider for layout & formatting and cover design, as well as introducing the roles of graphic designer and illustrator in publishing services.
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We are so obsessed with talking about the future of something, yet it is true that making predication remains a worthy pursuit of many social scientific investigations. Tobi Bauckhage, the CEO and co-founder of Moviepilot, talks about the emerging hybrid models which seems to be merging platforms and publishers into one, leading the neologism “platisher” to being “a new breed of content providers”.
Bauckhage begins with explaining the (previous) distinctions between a platform and a publisher. Platform models facilitate “the production and distribution of content”, empowered by technology and contributed equally by every user, whereas publisher models make all decisions about the content and “were responsible for bad content or copyright infringements”.
Recently, however, social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, are pushing into the content creation area, while traditional publishers start to build up their online platform. Meanwhile, many hybrid media companies — or “platishers” — begin to emerge with considerable success.
With numerous creation of content and new business models flooding the internet, Bauckhage points out that the current challenge is to make relevant content stand out “in a meaningful, pluralistic and diverse way”, which is much related to the functionality of SEO. His confidence in new hybrid models being “the future of media”, though, seems to go without much justification — or should we just take it as self-explanatory?
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David Vinjamuri presents his view in the article How Hybrid Publishers Innovate To Succeed on Forbes. He introduces the rise of hybrid publishing, who is considered to be a combination of both traditional publishers and independent authors who are digitally skilled. It is a new and controversial model of publishing in the industry, but Vinjamuri outlines three characteristics of successful hybrid publishers, including offering small advances, operating on voluntary contributors, and speeding up on product development cycle. He concludes that “agility” is the biggest advantage of hybrid publishers in their competition with traditional publishing houses and self publishers.
I agree with Vinjamuri that a fast response to the market — sometimes achieved through the use of social media platforms — can often get you in the upper hand of sales, which is one of the biggest challenges for traditional publishers, who may get stuck in the slow motion of product development cycle and are considered ot be losing “coherent brand positioning with consumers”. While the traditional publishers enjoy prestige and the self-publishers enjoy freedom, hybrid publishers seem to face lots of obstacles in terms of long-term success, despite their increasing impact on the industry.
Among the discussions that my last post about hybrid publishing (Partnership Publishing: A ‘Third Way’？) has triggered in my LinkedIn connections, Jeremy Soldevilla, a hybrid publishing practitioner, argues that they do take up “all the other functions of a traditional publisher”, but unlike traditional publishers, hybrid publishers “are willing to take a chance on new authors whose books might not sell thousands of copies, but deserve to be published”. However, George Williams insightfully points out that we should look more closely at “the assertion that this company under spotlight is “modeled on a traditional press……. I came across the following gem on the company’s website: ‘only two things differentiate us from a traditional small press: the author pays, and we don’t have in-house publicists.’ Saying the only thing that makes this different from a traditional press is that the author pays is like me saying the only thing that makes me different from an MD is the fact that I never went to medical school.” Is hybrid/partnership publishing really a successful innovation, or has this “model” which makes its money not by selling books to readers but by charging fees to authors actually been around for years? And is it necessarily a bad thing for the entire publishing ecosystem?
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In the article Between Traditional and Self-Publishing, a ‘Third Way’, Brooke Warner talks about how authors are moving toward hybrid publishing. She begins with discussing the contemporary publishing world, divided by traditional publishing and self-publishing, and says that now it has become much harder to get a contract with traditional publishers, while self-publishing presents multiple risks. Warner then introduces her own business as a “third-way publisher”, and how it distinguishes from traditional publisher and a self-publisher but is qualified for both.
Modeled on a traditional press, authors who take hybrid publishing approach are involved in the vetting, distribution, and marketing process. Warner describes this approach as a “middle ground” which provides flexibility while enhancing the opportunity of success for a book. However, to what extent can a hybrid publisher, or a “publishing partner” provide consultancy during the publishing process, when the marketing responsibility is almost entirely on the authors? And while Warner confidently claims that this model will be the future, one may find it difficult to evaluate the contribution of such role as a publishing partner, who seems to be highly involved in the selection process, but shies away from the rest of publishing process which has a great impact on the likelihood of success for a book.
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