Friday, April 22, 2011

Risk Adversity and Legacy Publishing

This is the innovation age in the information industry. Old models are being broken.

I step back and wonder why my ebooks, especially the romances, are selling so well. Why were they rejected by big publishing? My sales rank on Amazon Kindle store defies legacy industry logic.

Legacy industry logic. I've reverse-engineered what that means by observing present-day big publishing behavior. A good data point is agency model pricing -- their inability to adjust prices (or allow their vendor to do so) in the face of rapidly-changing market conditions. They continue to push a model that used to work.

This kind of backward-looking, risk-adverse decision-making seems to characterize most aspects of the traditional publishing industry -- repeating the same things time and again, and expecting it to work when the paradigm has shifted. I do believe that's the definition of insanity.

Taking risk adversity to the editorial level means using the same author stable, the same voices, the same formula, over and over again. This is why so many were rejected. It wasn't necessarily about the writing. It was about maintaining a status quo within the industry. It was about keeping readers addicted to the same authors, the same story lines, the same voices. It was about being able to accurately predict the next quarterly and annual profits. Taking risks on more than a handful of new voices could potentially wreak havoc with the bottom line.

Ironically, the same system they fight will also be their salvation. Self-publishing and ebooks solve a huge problem for the industry. They can now choose from established and proven authors (Hocking, Morrison); projecting profits is easy when you can select from a test market far more powerful and reliable than ANY agent.

So . . . why isn't the query system dead already? I give it one more year.


  1. Hi Anna,

    Congratulations on your success. I just purchased Unbroken Hearts and I'm looking forward to it. You have a great blog with well-reasoned and sound positions. I plan to be a regular.

    We have a lot in common. I grew up in a small town in NE Iowa and went to Wartburg College. I was on the wrestling and rugby teams and probably visited your campus. I will be in Iowa, Minnesota, and NW Ontario in a few weeks and love where you have chosen to live. I'm in Denver, and I like that, too.

    My first novel came out within the last two weeks and I'm very excited about it. It's a romantic suspense called One reader said, "How nice for you, Robert, you've written a romance." I had never even read a romance until then. Now it's regular. Anyway, I would be thrilled if you read my book and perhaps comment on it. Thanks, Anna.

    RW Bennett

  2. RW,

    Thanks for your comment and purchase of Unbroken Hearts. I'm a Beloit College grad, and they do occasionally play against Wartburg.

    I looked up The blurb and cover are grabbers! I downloaded the sample.

    Best of luck,