10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing…and How to Beat Them
Here’s an interesting post from Daniel Decker on the tough world of book publishing (HT Trevin Wax). Specifically, he offers “10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing” before giving 7 tips for overcoming them. If you have any interest in the writing/publishing world, this one’s worth a quick read.
Here are the 10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing that Decker offers:
- The number of books being published in the U.S. has exploded.
- Book industry sales are declining, despite the explosion of books published.
- Average book sales are shockingly small, and falling fast.
- A book has less than a 1% chance of being stocked in an average bookstore.
- It is getting harder and harder every year to sell books.
- Most books today are selling only to the authors’ and publishers’ communities.
- Most book marketing today is done by authors, not by publishers.
- No other industry has so many new product introductions.
- The digital revolution is expanding the number of products and sales channels but not increasing book sales.
- The book publishing world is in a never-ending state of turmoil.
Keep reading to see what he thinks about how prospective authors should respond to this challenging new environment.
Why the printing press will kill books
I tell you, sir,” he whispered, “it is the end of the world. Never were known such excesses of the scholars: it is the cursed inventions of the age that ruin everything: artillery, serpentines, bombards, and above all, printing, that other pestilence from Germany. No more manuscripts! No more books! Printing is cutting up the bookselling trade. The end of the world is certainly at hand!”
………………………..~Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
via Michael Hyatt
Flotsam and jetsam (1/21)
- James McGrath offers a very nice review of Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins by Richard F. Carlson and Tremper Longman III
- Moody Publishers has launched a new blog focused on “faith, publishing, and literary culture.” (HT)
- Mark Goodacre points out a BBC 4 series on the King James Bible that looks like it could be interesting.
- Matt Flannagan begins a series called “Fallacy Friday” with a post on What Is an Argument?
- According to one recent study, even thinking that you’ve had alcohol can impair memory and judgment. I wonder if that means that thinking you haven’t had alcohol even when you have would lead to improved memory and judgment?
- And, here’s a list of 17 Things You Didn’t Know about Seinfeld.
Should you make people pay for a book about the Gospel?
I have some great news for you about the free gift of God’s amazing grace. And, I’ll tell you about it for only $19.95.
Is it just me, or does something seem very wrong about the idea of making people pay to learn about the Gospel?
I’m wrestling with that as I try to decide what to do with my Gospel book. I would guess that it’s now about 60% complete and I need to start making some decisions about what to do with it. I started this project primarily for my own benefit and for my church. So, I don’t have a lot invested in actually publishing it. But, I would like to make it available to people when it’s done.
A very large part of me just wants to put it up on the internet for free and let anyone download and use it as they will. It’s the Gospel! Use it well; spread it widely. I’ve also considered self-publishing so I could charge a low price for a hard copy and still make it available for free on the internet. But I’ve heard some stories about how much work self-publishing actually entails. And, I also understand the benefits of having a publisher who will work with me to ensure that the book is done well and who can make sure that people actually hear about the book. Free (or cheap) isn’t very helpful if people don’t know it’s there.
Thus, my quandary. What do you think? I don’t do a lot of polls on this site (actually, none). But, I thought I’d give it a shot on this one. So, please cast your vote below. And, feel free to offer some comments below if you’d like to engage this question a bit more.
Also, please spread the word about this poll. I’d like to get as much feedback on this as I can.
Flotsam and jetsam (1/10)
- Andrew Perriman discusses the “Missio Dei” in historical perspectives.
This shift of focus away from the activity of the church towards the activity of God, however, exposed a critical bifurcation in the argument, a fork in the road—and many theologians took the concept of missio Dei in a direction altogether unintended by Barth and the German missiologists….If the church participates in the mission of God, the possibility arises that the mission of God in the world may be thought to happen more or less independently of the church.
- Daniel Kirk has some interesting reflections on the seven “deacons” in Acts 6.
But there are other indications that though this event was used to bring about peace for a time, the twelve might not have been as faithful leaders at this point as we might have hoped.
- Roger Olson is frustrated that no one seems to know what “the kingdom of God” means even though they use the phrase all the time.
One of my pet peeves is the fact that most Christian lay people and even many pastors don’t seem to know what they think the “Kingdom of God” means or have no idea what the Bible really says about it and yet use the phrase all the time.
- Larry Hurtado offers an updated list all copies of all texts of Christian provenance from before the 4th century CE.
- Here’s a roundtable discussion on Christians an Internet Presence with Trevin Wax, Steve McCoy, and Brandon Smith discussing social media, blogging, and other forms of Christian presence on the internet. One interesting quote from Trevin Wax:
The blogosphere is a neat thing, but it’s also a gigantic echo chamber, and the noisy links create the false perception that we are very important and have something so valuable to say.
- The NYT discusses the fact that TV watching in on the rise in America. (HT)
- If you were wonder, here are the 100 Best Selling Christian Books of 2010.
- Eerdmans new blog is now up and running (HT).
- If you spent way too much time during your teen years (or youth ministry years) watching The Princess Pride, here is the quiz for you: “Prepare to Die: A Princess Bride Quiz.” I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I scored a 10 out of 10 on this one.
- And, here’s a list of 10 bestselling books that almost weren’t printed.
Flotsam and jetsam (11/26)
- Justin Taylor has an excellent guest post from Andrew Cowan on What NT Wright really said.
In my judgment, however, the claim that Wright has changed his view on justification is misguided and results from the misreading of Wright that has been rampant in the Reformed world for quite some time.
- John Byron offers a good thought on celebrity-ism and the academy.
What are we doing? Our scholarship has become, in some ways, a celebrity sport. We stand in awe of speakers who are introduced as the author of twenty books, over one hundred articles and three video series. Bart Ehrman and NT Wright appear on the Colbert report, and while I admit I found their performance entertaining, I wonder why it is that these people are held up as the representatives of scholarship in our field?
- Richard Beck reflects on The Thomas Kincade Effect, or the problem of kitsch in Christian art.
it is worth wondering if Christians (or anyone for that matter) might be attracted to artwork that portrays a world “without the Fall,” a sweet, shiny, untroubled and Disneyesque existence.
- And, Bob Cargill’s SBL paper is now available, “Instruction, Research, and the Future of Online Educational Technologies”. HT
Flotsam and jetsam (10/13)
- There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need to create a national digital library, enabling free and easy access to a wealth of digital material.
- Along the same lines, Tim Bulkeley argues against traditional academic publishing and for a free and open exchange of ideas online. HT
- HuffPo has an interesting article on the quiet faith of Stephen Colbert.
- Nick Norelli points out a new blog offering book review in biblical and early Christian studies.
- Roger Olson explains that he’s only opposed to a certain kind of Calvinism.
- Justin Taylor continues to post excerpts from Tom Schreiner’s forthcoming book, this time with a section on the question “Is perfect obedience to the Law mandatory for salvation?“
- If you want to improve as a reader of fiction, you need to know what questions to ask. So,here’s a list of 20 questions to ask of a novel. HT
- And, apparently a morning donut can improve memory and concentration.
Flotsam and jetsam (8/28)
Some good links for your Saturday reading pleasure:
- Sharon Baker explains why she thinks we need to seriously rethink our understanding of hell.
- Carl Trueman wraps up his reflections on Luther’s writings against the Jews by reflecting on what we can learn from all of this today.
- Peter Leithart discusses the shame/guilt dichotomy and summarizes Douglas Cairns’ argument that the classical external/internal framework usually used to understand shame and guilt simply does not hold up to scrutiny – unless you understand it as a political move to make the private spirituality of the Enlightenment look superior.
- Jonathan links to some free book giveaways. You can pick up books on biblical theology, leadership, and apologetics.
- Boyd Morrison has some good thoughts on the decision of whether to self-publish.
- Steve Holmes discusses the New Perspective, arguing that the criticism that the Protestant tradition has prioritized justification over union with Christ is wrong. Instead, he suggests that union with Christ has been central (at least to Reformed theology) from the very beginning.
- Fred Sanders has an outstanding reflection on the passing of Donald Bloesch. This is a must read if you want to understand who Bloesch was and why he’s important.
- And, if you’re a Star Trek TNG fan, you should check out this casting memo discussing actors originally considered for key roles. Wesley Snipes as Geordi? What, is there a terrorist on the Enterprise somewhere?
Publish or Perish: Why publishing is important for your church, your institution, and you
Anna Blanch has a very helpful post today on why Christian scholars should seek to publish their research and writing. As she points out:
It makes sense to be involved in the intellectual conversation – to engage with the latest research and much debated issues – but the pressure can feel almost overwhelming, especially in the early part of one’s career.
Despite this occasionally overwhelming feeling, she draws on an earlier post by Ross McKenzie to argue that we should pursue publication for at least three reasons.
- You should publish for the Church. As academics, we are called on to serve the church and make sure that our research meets the needs of the church. I think we do need to be careful here that we don’t understand this too narrowly. It will often be difficult to see how one particular research project has a direct bearing on the life of the church. But, the overall direction of your research/writing should have a more noticeable connection.
- You should publish for your Institution. Publishing your work helps to raise the profile of the institution and it helps sharpen you as a teacher and supervisor. It’s easy to forget at times that those of us working for academic institutions are actually writing on their dime. At the very least, then, we should keep institutional needs in mind in the process.
- You should publish for You. She identifies three things here: (a) it helps you stay intellectually vital; (b) it keeps you critically engaged with a broader community of learners; and (c) it’s good for job security. Several of her comments here sounded like some of the same reasons that Billy and Brian have given recently for why they blog.
You should definitely read Anna’s entire post. She has a number of other good thoughts that I haven’t covered, as well as a couple of other posts on the academic life that are worth reading:
Do you have preferred publishers?
Tim Challies conducted a survey of his readers to find out a little about their book buying habits. There’s some interesting information in the survey results, but what I found most intriguing were the results regarding which publishing houses his readers thought had high/low credibility. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that Tim’s readers rated Crossway and Banner of Truth as the publishing houses with the highest credibility, but I was a little intrigued to see how low Baker scored on that chart. And, when Tim asked which publishing house had the lowest credibility, I was a little startled to see Zondervan at the top by a wide margin, with IVP in third. I certainly wouldn’t have expected either of those to score that high (or low depending on your perspective). Tim suggested that this might have been from Zondervan’s connection to emerging/emergent authors, and one of the commenters thought it might have to do with the TNIV debacle. Still interesting results.
Two questions come to my mind from this survey. First, what does it mean for a publishing house to have “credibility”? I got the distinct impression from the comments on Tim’s site that “credibility” meant a publishing house that consistently produced books you thought were theologically sound. Is that how you would assess the credibility of a publishing house?
Second, do you have preferred publishers? Do you even notice who publishes the books that you like? If there are particular publishers that you like, which ones are they? Or, if you’ve never noticed before, just look at the books that you’ve read and enjoyed recently. Do you see any patterns?