As a boutique publisher sitting here in Dallas, far from center of the publishing world, it can get a little isolating sometimes. I find myself turning to the numerous publishing and writing blogs for a sense of community, but I’m thinking about cutting back on that. The overall tone is so negative these days that it can be a bit depressing. Even my blog has shared the gloom with a video from Bob Miller on how terrible everything is (and he’s supposed to be one of the one’s fixing it!) and a link to a presentation by the Publisher of a house I really admire, Berrett-Koehler, on (you guessed it) how terrible everything is.
All this negativity might be weirdly comforting if we were also struggling (in a misery loves company sort of way). But we aren’t struggling; we are actually having a fantastic year (is it bizarre that I feel a little bad saying this?)
So why are we doing so well when so many very good, very smart publishing houses are struggling? I don’t claim to have any answers to the enormous problems publishers are facing, and I’m well aware that a lot our success is due to good luck and even a black swan or two (https://www.benbellabooks.com/blog/?cat=6).
But we are doing a few things that might be worth noting:
- We have gotten very very careful. About what we acquire. About how we spend our time. About how we spend our money.
- At the same time, we are still experimenting. We have just launched a website that I think will very important to our business. The Beta version is up at www.smartpopbooks.com.
- We don’t make huge bets. We like to see a path – and not a difficult path – to making money with every book and we like to see the potential for a homerun on every book.
- We are looking more and more for authors who have the desire and ability to partner with us – and even take the lead – in marketing their books and we try to reward their efforts and match their efforts.
- We try to take care of our authors and our agents. Both are critical to our success.
- We are very focused on making money. Publishing often seems to have a lot of priorities that have nothing to do with making money (and I’m not talking about good priorities, like publishing great literature, I’m talking about mindless rules and bureaucracy).
- We are very flexible, even working within a publishing system that doesn’t like flexibility.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our success this year!