Author & Audience Trends (PART THREE)

Author & Audience Trends (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.


1 Comment

Lynn Weiss

December 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

I absolutely love what you are doing here. Dayna, you write so well, that I think we need to spread your word further, Of course as a publisher, that could bring you more business that you want or can handle, especially as a growing publisher. Takes time, right, to get multiple authors going!

One comment about Jaki’s work. I think what you are talking about is similar or, even the same, as something I thought of in the 1980s and 1990s.
I called it “Fairy Stories for Adults. You talk about “Coming of Age Stories.”

What I see is that:
1. Young adult stories and Coming of Age stories are getting more popular. And I see a lot of dark one. A couple of teen in the adult knitting group that I attend when I can love to read these kinds of stories. They are somewhat short and, I’ll check and get some of the book titles. But this is popular market — one needs to find a way into it.
2. Because of cultural changes, adults, 25 – 40 or even 50 often have not gone through an exploratory period of self-exploration. The Baby Boomers were very contained within the “Get going and get making money and becoming in the external world.” But for two reasons they are getting restless at this time (in their 50 plus stage of change in a culture that they never knew about and didn’t get to explore.
In contrast, I am old enough that I got to go through it in the 1960s and, therefore, got to appreciate the whole “going-out-of-the-box-style-of-living. It’s awesome and touches the within of each of us bring true feelings, joy, and pathos that eventually makes a whole.
Okay, so the mid adults (25 – 45ish) I think will be drawn to the coming of age business with some tweeks here and there. Perhaps set as flashbacks.

Anyway, I think you are on to something. Kudos and may success at reading your audience happen.

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