Monthly Archives: April 2013

Let’s Get a Kinder, Gentler Publishing Industry Going!!

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

You know, I was thinking about the state of publishing, how getting content out to market is the main focus and making a profit keeps professionals employed and companies profitable.  But in thinking about this snapshot in time, one question still comes to mind amidst all this change and technological innovation:  Where is the human element in the digital revolution?

After almost 30 years in the book publishing business, it makes me sad to see how people are a disposable commodity in the business that entertains us, teaches our children, and places the focus of generations into the electronic/carbon receptacle of the written word.  Why did we get to this point?  How do we make our industry more prevalent to retaining and retraining employees rather than ejection and expulsion?  The world is changing, the instantaneous nature of tweets, blogs, and electronic downloadable content has put us in a situation where all content is in a madcap competition for consumer dollars.

When I originally started to think about this blog post over the weekend, I was going to focus on why publishing seems to “eat its young”.  Everyone can be replaced, and everyone can be replaced for someone who will cost the corporate entity less money in some cases then the salary of the person being forced to walk the plank to unemployment.  As Bobby Collins says, “on the inside I’m screaming about how the publishing industry needs to remember that the individuals packed off to unemployment today could be the supervisors in the next company tomorrow” (in which case I would suggest execs who cut people out keep their resumes ready!).

Be Kind, Be Gentle

I’ll let you executives in on a little secret, if you blatantly profited and were promoted on the backs of your subordinates and then you cut them loose, Karma will turn around and rock you off your feet when the time is right.  But on the outside I’m saying, “OK corporate structures, you need to consolidate and rebuild because sales did not equate to projections and economic demands necessitate belt-tightening by the lower ranks on the internal corporate infrastructure, with instances of salary shedding to facilitate continued profitable existence.”  That Bobby Collins knows how to turn a phrase into an extremely funny bit.

My advice to anyone out there in the publishing field, fight the urge to pull the trigger on your staff and see if you can come up with 5 things that the employee brings to the table that might be a level of undervalue before packing them off to corporate Siberia.  In this way you will be looking at the glass from two different directions and taking the 360 degree view before making a decision that could impact a family into a downward spiral at a time when downward spirals are much steeper than in the recent past.

Excuse me but I believe you are standing in our Landfill!

Also, business decisions have personal consequences.  Although a company tends to cut someone loose in a step to save money (“It’s not personal, it’s business”)  there is always the possibility that the company is just “taking out their trash” to save face for execs who are sub-par at best and incompetent at worst.  Companies that have a revolving door of hiring and dismissal are not places that you want to work in.  The unknown abyss of whims and unfocused expectations will leave you in a position of constant uncertainty and doubt about your place and security within the organization.

Learn to Dance

If you find it in yourself, follow your own star, make your own music, use the talents you have received by whatever entity you believe in, and reach out and Rock the World!  If you need some help, let me know and I will do whatever I can to help.  Life is too short to worry about trivialities.  Find your song and dance…

Follow me on Twitter at:  Donald Schmidt@thebookkahuna

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Publishing Negotiations: Plan “B”

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

Follow me on Twitter at:  Donald Schmidt@thebookkahuna

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Publishing Negotiations: The Art of Being Frugal

Don 002-5x7_pp

When I first broke into the publishing industry, icons like Jeremiah Kaplan at Macmillan were running the publishing corporate structures. These were people who started the companies, in Jeremiah’s case the Free Press, and knew the book business inside and out. The one underlying factor in all business negotiations with vendors and suppliers is: Get a deal that has high-yield revenue to cost ratio to ensure each product maximizes the income potential from each and every sale.

 Professionals do it Best
Over the past 25 years a shift has occurred in book publishing as in all business endeavors: Finance people have become the arbiters of what constitutes a great deal. When a publishing establishment begins to look at Finance input over Publishing experience, the results can be disastrous. Getting a great deal on a POD vendor that routinely supplies your content to customers with pages missing, upside down, or covers printed incorrectly is a nightmare. When a publishing pro can work the deal, these types of problems become few and far between. Publishing experience gets you to a point where you know the players in the field, and you have personal knowledge of who can carry your water and who will drop the ball before the goal line. Also, Finance people speak the language of finance, while Publishing (Production and Manufacturing) people speak the language of publishing. When a Finance person talks to a printer, it’s as if one was speaking Japanese and the other was speaking Swahili. Let the Finance people work directly with the publishing people to craft the deals. Doing otherwise may yield a great result on paper, but a nightmare in practice. I’ve seen this first hand and I know whereof I speak.


Some Basic Rules
1. Know the vendor. Get some insights from other professionals through Associations and Trade organizations to find out the ins and outs of how a particular vendor works. Look for past successes that the vendor has had, but more importantly, dig for information on any problems that the vendor may have had in past experiences with content delivery. Although problems are not always a great indicator, a sequence of goofs that encompasses information you receive from more than one source may indicate a lackadaisical internal approach. If you get negative feedback, look for more information on how the problems were rectified. Sometimes the end result is an excellent story even though the problem was a short-term headache.
2. Know what you have as collateral. I have worked for small publishing companies and I have worked for very large companies in the past. The negotiations when working for a smaller organization are always much more difficult and challenging since there is a limit on what you can offer. Batching always seems to be a great negotiating tactic (“We have this series of books going 5-6 years into the future, if you can do this one at X amount, we can shoot you the rest of the series and that will be guaranteed work going forward…”)
3. Shoot High, Aim for the Middle. Always start off with an other-worldly offer. The first part of the negotiation process is always a dance of exorbitant expectations. This is the “courtship” phase. If your counterpart does not walk away with hands in the air disgustedly, you are dealing with someone who sees you and your company as a viable revenue source and business associate. After this phase the real negotiations can begin.
4. Do your homework. Know the number you are aiming for and shoot to get 10-20% below that number. If you can get this return of savings, then you are doing a great service to your organization or yourself if you are self-publishing.
These are the basics of good publishing negotiations. There are many more angles in the negotiation phase of publishing, but this is a framework that can suffice with additional rules added as you progress.
Make Your Deal
The best advice I can give to anyone in the publishing industry or someone self-publishing is to seek out the information on your own, do not leave it to Publishing Leaders and So-Called Experts to take your products across the goal line. The best publishing mind is an “informed” publishing mind. Get out there and Make a Deal!

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Ebooks, Rights, and Piracy: What do We Know and How do We Know It?

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/is-an-ebook-an-experience-or-a-thing/

I just read with interest Beth Bacon’s article on the Digital Book Website, Is an ebook an experience or a thing?, and wanted to weigh in on the conversation.  An Ebook is a work of intellectual property that is clearly owned by the person who developed the research or wrote the words into whatever capture device was used to build that manuscript.  The contrast begins to get hazy because Ms. Bacon did not differentiate what type of Ebook we were discussing.

More and More Self-Publishing

More and more authors are self-publishing their titles and this means that royalties are not a guarantee based on lack of old-school publishing house backing.  With this in mind, authors should be protected from piracy across the board.  Does a patron purchase the product with tacit consent to distribute as they see fit?  No.  Does the patron purchase the product with the understanding that it is for personal consumption and the consumption of those within a household or select friends?  Yes.

What Song is it You Want to Hear?  Free Bird

Back in the 1970s there were recording formats called “Cassette Tapes”.  Some of you may remember them, some of you may not.  Now, cassettes came in a variety of lengths, from 45 minutes to 1 hour, to 90 minutes, and even 120 minutes.  With the right recording device, a cassette tape could capture a whole album, or compilations of songs from many different artists.  I personally liked to take songs that fit different genres and put them all together on one mixed tape.  With a high-end Dolby equipped tape deck, you could make a pretty exact reproduction of the original song or album.

Does this format capture mean that once you bought the album or song you could reproduce it on a cassette and resell it?  No, this was a medium for personal use.  Ebooks are the new cassette tapes of this generation.  You get to buy the license to read it and have it on your device, but you do not have the right to do anything else with this intellectual property once you have downloaded it.

Differentiation is a Key

The world of trade books is much more likely to lend itself to re-sales at garage sales and on e-bay, while in the reference arena, college textbooks are more apt to be resold.  Ebooks make it much more difficult for these areas of sales to be utilized to recoup original payments as moving digital products from one reader to another is much more involved then handing someone a wood-based carbon product while they hand you greenbacks.   The easy way to lend an Ebook would be to hand your reader off to another individual so they can read it, but with a Kindle or Nook costing anywhere from $80-$300 + as well as an iPad costing $500-$800, handing this type of investment to someone else so they can read an Ebook does not seem to make much sense.

Wood-Based Carbon Product?  What’s that?

I may be going out on a limb here, but I think this problem with the digital rights and ownership of an Ebook will keep the print industry alive and thriving.  As inkjet technology and POD take up more and more of the print world from conventional sheet-fed and web-based printing, the costs associated with “on-time” warehousing deficient delivery practices will become more and more manageable and cost efficient.

It’s a Brave New World out there, and only time will tell what the future holds.

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The Book Kahuna TV: Phase 1

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

And now a word from our sponsor:

The only song I can think of that would glorify a guy with a perfect look for radio… of course the inaugural video on MTV from the 1980s.

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The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing

Don 002-5x7_pp

This post will be very short and succinct.  My e-book has published on Amazon today.  Please download and check it out.  If you join Amazon Prime you can get it for free.  Please leave some positive feedback.

The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing

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LinkedIn Networking: What’s the Protection from the Flagging Groupies (DAG)?

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

Now to kick off this blog post I would like to say that I am a strong proponent of LinkedIn. As I have stated in a previous blog post:

https://thebookkahuna.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/networking-best-ways-to-golinkedin/

This site is an incredible tool that can be utilized to connect with colleagues, experts, and various like-minded individuals in your industry, whatever that industry may be. If you are blogging and trying to get your name and expertise out into the field, this is a perfect vehicle to make things happen and get you increased visibility for opportunities and work assignments. Unfortunately, there is another side to LinkedIn that needs to be addressed to level the playing field and quantitatively equalize the arena. The Groups function needs to have better safeguards in place.

Let me show you my shocked face…

I recently found out how detrimental to business and visibility the flag function in various groups could be when an anonymous someone either disagreed with my point of view on a discussion point or had a problem with me personally trying to advance my contacts in my field. If you have not experienced this phenomenon, let me give you a breakdown of what occurs. I am in roughly 25-30 groups on publishing, print and electronic and digital formats of content transmission. One of these groups flagged me, which then caused a ripple effect throughout all the rest of my groups. Whenever I post a discussion to any one of my groups, the discussion goes into a “review” stage where it can languish for who knows how long before the group owner or manager gives the approval for the post to go “live”.

DAG: Protect Us LinkedIn

My first stop along the “Defense Against the Groupies” (or DAG as I refer to it) phase was to go directly to LinkedIn customer service. Since I just upgraded my profile to a paid subscription, I thought this would be an easy fix through the LinkedIn website infrastructure. No such Luck! I was told that since I was flagged or blocked on one of my groups, all of my groups had been put on virtual lock-down so I would need permission to post from each individual group leader for removal from this exile. After a few exchanges with customer service, I decided to take the road of least resistance and contact all of the group leaders or managers for my various groups.

Contacting Group Leaders: Networking with the TOP!

Contacting all of the group leaders was a great experience. From most, but not all, of my group captains I received assurances that my posts would be put on approval. Other groups have bylaws that stipulate that they do not let unfiltered discussion points go up on the board, which is fine with me and I am not one looking to break the bylaws of individual groups. From one manager I received a written tongue lashing on shameful self-promotion (when you have been laid off and are looking for consulting work, I think shameful self-promotion is the least of my worries, more like MORTGAGE PAYMENT promotion!)

Prognosis: FUBAR But Getting Better

At this point, my posts are still being filtered. This is not right. I am getting spammed by many fellow group members when I look at the discussion boards and they are not being filtered. Should I just start flagging everyone else so that there is an even playing field? No, that goes against my principles of competition and fair-play. I think LinkedIn needs to establish some Group rules for all groups. If you break the rules, then you forfeit the ability to post for a given amount of time. Two infractions would mean a time-frame double the original punishment, and 3 would be expulsion from the group. I also think that the individual should have an appeals process so that group members cannot arbitrarily flag posters for trivial reasons. Also, if a flagger does so for a trivial reason than punitive actions should be taken by the group leader against that individual as well. This would be akin to bringing a frivolous lawsuit, losing the case and then being made to pay the fees of both parties. If someone had a problem with a discussion post, they would bring it to the attention of the group owner or manager, who would be the one who could issue the flag.

Don’t Go Soviet…

Don at Finland Station-Leningrad 19870001

Anonymous attacks on discussion posters and bloggers is antithetical to what LinkedIn is all about. A Free Enterprise system promotes fairness and competition without undercurrents of Machiavellian/Totalitarian tactics. The ends do not justify the means as KARMA is one wild ride when it swings back on you.

At least I am getting a great blog post out of all this mayhem!

And now we dance…

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