In Pursuit of Simon & Schuster’s Big Numbers
Last month, the Market Update reported in-depth on the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop the acquisition of Simon & Schuster by industry behemoth Penguin Random House – a move the DoJ claimed would leave one entity in control of two-thirds of the market for acquiring new books. The next highest bidder for the Viacom subsidiary opined on the oversized PRH offer for S&S, saying there was “clearly no market logic to a bid that size – only anti-market logic.”
Well, he may have spoken too soon. S&S is having a huge year, which just might end up justifying that oversized bid—or at least making a colorable argument. While the regulators have spent months mulling over the legality of the proposed deal, CEO Jonathan Karp and his team at S&S have been doing their darndest to grow into that massive valuation. Q3 of 2021 was up 15% in sales and a whopping 66% in profits from...
Are you struggling with having confidence in your writing?
Every writer reaches a point where their confidence in the manuscript begins to wane. Maybe it’s the structure and how the chapters are ordered. Maybe it’s the voice: “Does any of this sound good to my ideal reader?” Or the grammar: “I’m 50% confident in how to use a semicolon.” Or, and this is a big one, connecting with a reader: “Is any of this working?!?!”
Any one of these questions is enough to make a writer throw their hands up in the air and yell, “Help! I need an editor.”
Editors are God’s gift to writers. They help us clarify, build confidence, and correct those pesky grammatical errors, among other things. A good editor can help you regain confidence in your writing while pointing you in the right direction. The key to finding an editor who can really help you is to know what you are looking for.
Let’s identify the different...
What would it be like to finally realize your dream of being a successful author?
The path to publication can be lonely. Often the only resource writers have is to Google their publishing questions. Have you ever used Google to help you solve a publishing mystery? It’s okay, everyone has. Where would we be without Google? It’s a great tool, but a lousy partner. You have questions, you want answers. What would it be like if you could sit down with a publishing professional and get all of your questions answered? No more going it alone. No more searching for answers.
What if we told you you don’t have to go it alone on your publishing journey?
That’s why we created the Author Audit.
We wanted to give you real, personal advice from experienced publishing experts during a one-on-one consultation. We’ll send you a questionnaire to fill out beforehand to ensure our time is highly productive and informative. By the end, you’ll know exactly...
The United States v. Penguin Random House
Well, at the last minute, the Department of Justice decided to make a little noise in the PRH/S&S merger that we’ve been talking/worried about. In recent issues, we reported that PRH CEO Markus Dohle assured literary agents on a video conference that after the merger the imprints of the “Big Two Become Huge One” publisher would continue to bid against one another for publishing rights—something that would be an industry-first for co-owned publishing imprints. But the DoJ doesn’t believe them. In the suit, the DoJ called that a “proposal that defies economic sense, can be evaded or violated without detection, and is unenforceable.” The DoJ scoffed, pointing out that, “in short, after securing nearly half the market for publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books, PRH asks this court to trust that PRH will not use its market power to maximize profits for the benefit of...
Have you ever wondered what agents actually do to help you?
Agents are a little like unicorns: surrounded by myth and difficult to find. We are being a little tongue and cheek but if you’ve ever searched for a literary agent, you know how daunting a task it is. Let’s talk about what exactly they do and why finding the right agent is so important.
What is the role of a literary agent?
Literary agents work for you, the author. They represent your writing by pitching your book proposal to editors, negotiating book deals, and acting as a translator between authors and publishers. They focus on the business side of publishing.
Advocacy plays a huge part in an agent's role for you. They are promoting your proposal to editors, cheering you on when you write the book, and helping you during the promotional period after the book has been released. It is a literary agent’s job to find publishers for the writers they represent. They negotiate contracts on the writer’s...
“Words have the power to make things happen.” - Frederick Buechner
Most readers know this to be true -- books are soul food to nourish our spirit, to guide us along, equipping, inspiring, challenging us to live bolder, braver, more intentional lives.
But how exactly do you write a book? How do you put words to paper to impact lives?
Whether you are staring at blank pages, a half-finished manuscript, or even a full manuscript collecting digital dust, we believe you can change the world with just one book.
Books are powerful instruments that shape lives.
Your book is a way to reach exponentially more people than any speaking gig, sermon, article, or social media post. Your book is also a way to share your idea, story, and conviction in long-form--using illustration, extrapolation, metaphor, testimony, and...
Your reader has a lot on their plate. Between juggling careers, distractions competing with commitments, and living life, their time is extremely valuable. There’s no shortage of busy today.
You know this, so why doesn’t your subtitle reflect this?
Imagine going into a store - people still do this!!! - and looking for someone to help you. You’ve got questions. How frustrated would you be if when you found the employee they did everything they could not to answer your questions?
Your readers have questions and they’re busy. They need you to cut to the chase. A really great subtitle answers your reader's questions. Too many times writers try to create subtitles that do everything. They become convoluted and clumsy. They say a lot about nothing.
Here’s a good rule to use when you are brainstorming a subtitle for your book: Are you using commas in the subtitle? A serial comma can suggest your subtitle lacks focus. Really push to clarify what your book is...
The Broken Links in the Supply Chain
Have you driven by any new car dealerships lately? Look closely. That lot full of new cars is probably only one row deep. Dealerships have resorted to parking the cars from the service department out front, just to create the illusion that they have a full lot! Something about a global shortage of microchips, along with numerous logistical challenges stemming from the pandemic.
Well, the book business is in the same boat…and that boat is probably moored a hundred ships deep off the California coast (we can literally see them out the window at Y&Y world HQ in Orange County, CA).
The supply chain problems in the publishing industry are a perfect storm of the pandemic-related labor shortage, shipping and transportation problems, and in recent years the bankruptcy and consolidation of US-based printing companies. Plus, with the stratospheric growth of online shopping, many mills switched their manufacturing from paper to cardboard (all...
Writing is hard.
You wouldn’t be reading this email right now if you didn’t feel the tension and resistance that goes along with trying to write and publish your books and ideas. Too often, we see authors on social media and wonder, “Why not me?”
The truth is: when you see a book, you’re really seeing more than the author’s work. You’re seeing the work of a village - because that's what it takes. In the publishing process, dozens of people will help bring a book to market.
It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. You’re measuring yourself not against an author or a book, but a team of people. That’s why we want you to stop going it alone.
When we created Author Coaching University, we wanted to help writers go from idea to bookshelf. Imagine having a mentor to walk you step-by-step to getting published? What if you had an expert guide from within the publishing industry to help you navigate your journey?
Big Numbers for the Big 5
With the first 6 months of 2021 in the books, we have seen an industry-wide increase in same-period sales up 18.1% over 2020. Some of that jump can be attributable to the adversely COVID-impacted March and April 2020, but if you’ve been hanging with us for the past year and a half, you know that by May 2020 and on through the rest of that year, we were on a hot streak. So, these are some terrific numbers to report, with Publishers Marketplace conjecturing that we may have just seen the best 6- and 12-month periods ever!
The Big 5:
Penguin Random House: Up 10.8% worldwide; 22% ($1.3 billion) in the U.S.
Lagardere/Hachette: Up 16.4% worldwide; 14.8% in the U.S.
HarperCollins: Up 20%
Simon & Schuster: Up 9.2% (reporting separately from PRH pending merger approval)
Macmillan/Holtzbrinck: (privately held, but presumably performed similarly well)
Hachette Book Group knows what to expect, and it’s expecting to...