Author Archives: daynah

What to serve at negotiations: Calming Rice-Mango Salad

Ever at an impasse and wonder, “What could I serve to calm tensions during negotiations?” A great dish to serve at the negotiation table. Serves 4

  • 1 cup Dark Brown Rice
  • 1 cup Black Rice
  • 4 cups Water
  • 3-4 large Mangoes, peeled, sliced, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Toasted Coconut (or 1/4 cup coconut milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Green Onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pickled Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cilantro
  • Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
  1. Combine brown rice, water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to low and simmer for 45 min.
  2. Take it off the heat and pour in the maple syrup/brown rice syrup and coconut milk and fluff the rice. Cover and let sit for about 20 minutes. Serve with mangoes and a sprinkling of sesame seeds (if you so desire).ecipe for the Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4  cup orange juice
  • 2  tablespoons (or 2 teaspoons) minced fresh ginger
  • 2  tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 4  teaspoons Olive Oil / Canola Oil
  • 2  teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon Cilantro
  • 1/4  cup thinly sliced Green Onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 2  tablespoons Sugar (or 1/4 cup maple syrup/brown rice syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper 

Preparation

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in green onions and the remaining ingredients. Chill vinaigrette in an airtight container for 2 hours.

Whisk 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce in another bowl. Add rice, mango, and onions; toss well. Cover rice salad; let stand at room temperature.

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Synergies & Contradictions with “Vendors”

Small companies need to create synergies and resolve contradictions. As publisher, we at Koho Pono wear many hats including vendor-to-authors and project manager. In both of these roles we are trying to develop a satisfying process for everyone. Our goal is for authors to be fulfilled by the publishing experience and for the correct audiences to receive tales that resonate powerfully with them and are delivered in a satisfying manner. So why did I throw a spanner in the works when new author, Jaki Harvell, tried to hire an artist to illustrate her book? After all, she chose well; the illustrations were synergistic with her story.

The trouble was, Jaki was negotiating with the artist without considering how their final deal would affect the book publishing process. She was negotiating as if she was commissioning a work of art for her home rather than building an agreement for art to be used as part of a product that was going to have a life of its own. This distinction is important for all concerned.

If the author had signed the initial contract with the artist, it would have been extremely difficult for Koho Pono to publish the book. Thank goodness we saw the contract before signatures were inked. We all got together (over a superb home cooked meal, I might add) and hammered out revisions that satisfied everyone: author, artist, and publisher. So now, the book will be amazing AND everyone’s rights and responsibilities are accounted for.

Koho Pono wants to put out quality products AND we want to deal with honorable, talented people who we admire AND we want the process to be fulfilling for all concerned AND we want every goal to be designed for win-win-win-win = wins for the author-artist-publisher-audience. (And we also love great negotiation-food)

In summary: it is important for the publisher be mindful of every contributor’s needs on our way to the final product – to keep the ‘customers’ happy. And within that process, we’re hoping to educate authors and artists about the importance of at least thinking a bit about some of the steps required to get their work out to an appreciative audience so they don’t accidentally agree to something that makes it impossible to present their work or that creates a win-lose scenario.

Coming soon will be a series of blogs dealing with some of the contractual points that an artist-author-publisher might want to take into consideration if the goal is win-win-win for all. Look for the titles, Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins.

Also, look for Calming Rice n Mango Salad, which is one of the home-cooked salads we devoured during our negotiation luncheon.

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Industry Consolidation

Clearly there are benefits to industry consolidation.

Consolidation allows for more stable and expanded distribution, controlled excess capacity, and increased prices. It allows companies to integrate their schedules and unify operations, cut costs, and stock shelves with their titles. New customers are drawn to mega stores and networks of offerings. Profitability grows; customer traffic rises; revenue per cost point improves. The barriers to entry are higher. There is the possibility of newer, friendlier rules/regulations/ treaties. And it is easier to deal with labor disputes.

Anytime a large company’s financial situations improve, they tend to get more aggressive about consolidations and resitrictive partnerships throughout the development, production, sales, distribution channels, and end-of-life cycle.

However, industry consolidation is a double-edged sword. We are headed towards author consolidation and acquisitions based almost entirely on large book-buying demographics. What we all see, but don’t say is that we are becoming an industry of bean-counting-driven policies rather than customer-driven/author-driven processes and policies.

Consolidations create industry momentum, which causes psychological inertia, which leads to greed/entitlement/a sense of lack/perversity – and this leads to decline. I’m seeing the early stages of bookstore and publishing decline embedded into today’s industry consolidation.

Little businesses are failing. Slipping away are the sleepy little corner store (the one filled with new book smell and quiet browsing and children being introduced to new worlds). These independent stores are sacrificed to the maws of volume turnover.

Also slipping away are the joys of discovering a hot new talent, of being a good steward to that writer, to helping produce a quality story and delivering a product that meets real audience need. These joys are being sacrificed for money, power, and control. Heck, there is nothing wrong with money, power, and control. I want some. But I don’t want it at the expense of what is best about this industry. What is best about this industry is relationships and recognizing talent and doing important work and satisfying deep human needs.

And the truth is, it doesn’t have to be a trade-off. This is what innovators know. It does not have to be a trade-off! We can have it all money/power/control and satisfaction/fulfillment/engagement.

As the big companies consolidate the creation and distribution of best-sellers and maximize their processes to squeeze every advantage from the system, there is a new publishing trend towards “right-sizing”

Right-sizing-publishers are finding ways to develop processes to support large numbers of authors – many of them will only write one book in their life. I’ve spoken with a lot of writers who say they have felt underappreciated (and even ignored) for a long time. One of the biggest changes in our industry is that authors are taking back control of their work and of the process of getting that work out to their readers. This, of course, is turning our industry on its ear and making way for right-sizing-publishers to define new author engagement strategies.

Right-sizing publishers are less interested in being industry gatekeepers and more interested in finding the correct audience for each story: right sized, right priced, right community, right delivery methods. Another way of say it is mass customizing creation and delivery.

A person with only one great story in them is as important as a person with twenty great stories if the system is developed for them. A person with one important story can create that story at the right price and make sure it gets out into a receptive world so it is seen, heard, understood, and appreciated by the correct audience.

Right-sizing-publishers are not tied to ‘book’ creation and distribution in the same way the big players are tied to their processes. Therefore, we can service limited niches at lower cost and with less risk. We are alive again with discovering fresh talent and matching those talents to their specific hungry audience (and make a good living doing that). This has always been a joy to publishers and when we put our fear of scarcity away and take off the blinders of entitlement, then it will be joyful again.

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Author & Audience Trends (4)

Today it is extremely difficult for new authors to enter into the book-selling system (PART FOUR – and last of the series). This is because of an industry-wide, entrenched mindset that is: publishing professionals serve as “guardians of quality”. At every level of the publishing and bookselling industry, we are poised to filter out the unworthy on behalf of the book-buying audience.

Book buyers, too, have been trained to trust ‘the pros’ to weed out poorly conceived, badly edited, ratty-looking offerings. Supposedly, this reduced list will prove to be more profitable for all concerned … except for new, upcoming authors, of course, who are pounding on the gate to the castle.

There is some validity to the guardians-of-quality claim. I will state for the record, editing is one of the most important value-added activities we middle-people apply to the process. Authors with access to great editors usually produce improved stories, which is why authors have allowed themselves to be hobbled for so long.

Now don’t get me wrong. Improved quality is not reason enough to justify the constraints we put on new authors and it is not enough of a reason to deny audiences that which they wish to receive.

Although a well-edited story is a wonder to behold, we use this fact to justify all manner of abuse upon our authors and customers. It’s time to rethink our position. For example, rather than limiting the number of stories provided for consumption because it is too hard to improve their quality, we might find a better, faster, cheaper way to edit.

Maybe there are ‘distribution’ venues in which authors can participate that allow for real-time feedback so writers learn their craft. A good analogy is the stand-up comedian who first goes to open microphone, sees for herself which jokes fly, what delivery style suits her, etc. There are audiences available for every level of beginning comedian. Just so, there would be audiences for every level of new writer … if the system was interested in developing writers’ craft.

We have fashioned our industry processes to be streamlined and profitable to us rather than remembering our first priority: servicing our two most important resources.

What if there were millions of authors each with one story? What if there was a small but significant audience for each of these stories? What if there were hundreds of delivery systems rather than a few? What would our industry look like? Who would be the new winners? How would we succeed; what would our strategies be?

These are questions I’m asking myself because this is a type of publishing industry I’d like to grow.

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Author & Audience Trends (PART THREE)

PART THREE:

The first part of this author & audience series said, every person has at least one good story inside them and that story demands to be beheld. It hurts us and our society when important stories remain ‘unspoken’.

The second part of this author & audience series said, business systems and processes tend to support (and pressure) consistent authors to create best-selling products. Industry workers at all levels of the publishing system value the status quo and the main role of today’s publishing industry is to attract, collect and funnel a few consistent, acceptable authors into the system and to filter out others.

Because the industry is in flux, this old pattern of success is not as dependable as it once was. Therefore, we in publishing need to re-examine our mindset momentum and remember the important underlying principles of our industry: Â

The author has a need to connect to their audience + audiences have a need to engage with important stories

The problem is, we have gotten too far from this fact and have begun to believe we are more necessary than we actually are. For decades publishers convinced both authors and audiences that we middle-people are both the path to getting their needs met and the gatekeepers of what is worthy. But now the great medicine wheel has turned and authors have begun to revolt at being kept off the path of having their stories beheld. Also, audiences have begun to hunger for their generation’s stories and to have those stories offered in ways they love to receive them. Additionally, new technologies are enabling both authors and audiences to overthrow the established norms, beliefs, companies, deliveries, and processes.

The wheel keeps turning. If there are indeed “too many submissions” then we (innovative small publishers) encourage our big brethren companies & distributors to continue to vet submissions. In the meantime, those-with-stories-that-need-telling and those-that-desire-different-stories will devise methods to meet their needs without you. And we innovative small publishers will help enable that meeting.

If it is still true that today’s publishers and booksellers need to “focus on quantity sales”, then hungry niche markets will find ways to meet their needs directly from the source (authors) at good prices through mass customization.

Almost every industry magazine, website, and analyst opinion claim booksellers “can only survive if they purchase titles from the big distributors”.  However, customers are beginning to realize that this means stores deem their book-buying processes to be more important than customer’s needs. And this is why customers are looking elsewhere – they are buying elsewhere – and they are becoming more and more comfortable with a new buying process. Our complacency (plus a dependency on volume sales and bean-counter-type decisions) has made us vulnerable to changing conditions.

The bottom-line is this (and has, actually, always been this): Because authors & audiences are the basis of our industry, it is easy for authors & audiences to take back their power. They can easily cut out the middle people, which are us in the publishing and bookselling industry. We bookstores and publishers need to wake up and innovate a new paradigm (a better way of doing business in this environment) if we are to survive.

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Author & Audience Trends (Part two)

PART TWO:

 One of the issues artists have always faced is: once an artist/craftsperson produces a work which is deemed acceptable, then there is great pressure to ‘keep doing that, more of that, and only that!’

Business tends to favor predictability and consistency. Therefore, business systems and processes tend to support (and pressure) consistent authors to create best-selling products in a self-reinforcing cycle. The good news is some authors become superstars and rich and celebraties and all they create earns money throughout the system.

The bad news is, people thoughtout the system learn to value the status quo and compete for this limited set of authors and their work. Other authors and work are ignored, dismissed, filtered out of the system as unacceptable (unless it can be packaged to compete directly with the status quo products).

And this is the main role of today’s publishing industry – to attract, collect and funnel  a few consistent, acceptable authors into the system and to filter out others. “There are too many submissions” “We need to focus on what will sell” “We are the guardians of quality”: these are common industry-related quotes I read every day at all levels of the publishing industry.

The industry has forgotten our bottom line: The author has a need to connect to their audience + audiences have a need to engage with important stories = This is the basis, the foundation, the genesis of our industry. It’s vital that we do not forget that.

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Author & Audience Trends (Part 1)

PART ONE:

Many people have one good book inside them. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that every person has at least one good story inside them. And that story demands to be beheld. It hurts us when our story remains ‘unspoken’.

When we lived in tribes, we all knew each others stories and somehow that … validated us. If we are not heard, touched, seen and understood we feel impoverished; we fail to thrive. In fact, after survival is assured, to be valued may be our most driving human need.

Ancient publishing systems worked great. Stories were collected and distributed for generations orally around campfires, chanted to the throb of drumbeats, danced to and reenacted – stories were treasured. Hunting stories were drawn on walls with charcoal and minerals. Migration stories and birth stories were carved in rock; we call them petroglyphs and pictograms. The author connected to their audience and the audience was engaged. This is the basis, the foundation of our industry. It’s important that we do not forget that.

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Come Read Our Publisher’s Blogs

We have opinions, oh yes we do. (“We” are Scott Burr and Dayna Hubenthal.) And we want to talk/write about these helpful ideas because we believe they are important or funny or insightful. Occassionally we invite guest bloggers and semi-regular guest bloggers. These guests will be the voice of a particular audience.

Semi-regular blogger, Jaki Harvell, springs to mind. Jaki is a writer and will “speak out” on writer issues and about writer/publisher interactions. Â

So, sit back, fire up the ol’ computer or mobile device and engage in our community. We would love to hear what you have to say.

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It’s a Good Time to Start a Publishing Business

Greetings, I’m Dayna; co-owner of our new publishing company, Koho Pono LLC. We opened its doors this month despite tough economic conditions, bookstores closures, cut-throat competition from mega-publishing houses, and dramatic industry upheavals. It is a notoriously tough sector but we are excited because innovation can help small publishing companies and booksellers (hey, authors and their audiences, too).

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