An Email List Changes Everything

Does your platform need help?

Platform is one of the biggest, if not the largest, hurdles you face when trying to publish and sell your book. With limited time and energy, what’s the best thing an author can focus on to grow their platform? In today’s post, we want to introduce you to the highest point of contribution when it comes to platform building. 

Have you ever missed a big announcement from your favorite band? Maybe it was a chance to buy tickets for their upcoming show in your town? Maybe you didn’t even know they were coming to town?

It never feels good to miss out on something you care about.

That’s why collecting email addresses is so important for your platform. That mailing list is what saves your readers from missing out on the next big thing.

Too often, authors focus on growing other parts of their platform when their highest point of contribution is focusing on nurturing and growing their email list.

This blog post is about the...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 4, Issue 3


 What is Happening at Simon & Schuster?

Unless you’re new to the Update, you’ve already heard about the trend-bucking results that S&S has been having for the last couple of years. And 2022 was no exception. Sales were up 10%, topping $1.1 billion. Even better, operating income jumped 16% to $248 million. Some enviable numbers, to be sure. All this, while CEO Jonathan Karp and his moneymaking colleagues worked under the cloud of uncertainty that was the pending—now imploded—sale of the company to Penguin Random House.

Yet, Simon & Schuster parent Paramount continues to say that the publishing juggernaut isn’t core to their video-based business and still intends to sell it off. Man, if that’s a “non-core asset,” I would like to have one or two “non-core assets.” Reuters reported that a Wall Street firm is in talks with Paramount to shop S&S with the target price being between $2 billion and...

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Why Comparable Titles Matter

This will be on the final test...for your book. 

It’s easy to list the Hunger Games as a comparable title. Surely there’s a Malcolm Gladwell book orbiting your book idea. Spend a minute reviewing the bestseller list and you’ll find one or two books similar to yours, close enough that you can list them as a comparable title in your book proposal. This is a trap, and it’s the fastest way to get your book proposal ignored. 

Comparable titles are a great way to start the conversation.

There’s a hurdle out there waiting to trip up your book proposal and derail your project. It’s lurking, waiting to come up in conversations. You might even think you’ve checked that box.

Oftentimes when we are in a conversation with a potential author, we’ll ask them about their comparable titles for their book proposal. It’s a test. We want to know if you know what you are doing. How you answer can determine where the next steps in...

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An Easy Trick to Get Writing

What’s an easy trick to get your book from your head to the page?

Writing is a lot harder than Netflix or Disney+. If binge-watching The Mandalorian was as easy as writing a book, you wouldn’t have signed up to receive this email. The truth is writing is hard. It takes a lot of work! This simple trick is going to help shift your mindset and make the work of finishing your book that much easier. 

Are you letting distractions keep you from writing your book?

When it comes to writing books, there are a million things that are easier to do. Everything becomes a distraction. Do you know what’s easier than writing your book? Talking about your book. Complaining about not having time to write your book...well, there might be as much time spent doing that as it would take to actually write the book.

That’s why we often share this easy trick to help writers shake off distractions like Netflix or Disney+, etc.: “Butt in chair.” It’s...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 4, Issue 2

Is the End in Sight for Amazon?

No, of course not.

But the multi-category behemoth just posted its first loss since 2014…and to the tune of a cool $2.7 billion.  That’s more than petty cash, even at one of the world’s biggest companies. While their holiday sales grew 9% from the prior year, Amazon took a huge loss on its investment in the electric truck maker, Rivian, whose stock value plunged 82% after Amazon took a 20% stake.  

So, it wasn’t just me…

The other drag on profits came from Amazon’s pandemic-fueled growth plan.  CEO Andy Jassy commented that in just a couple of years during the pandemic, Amazon nearly doubled the warehouse space that it had previously built over the prior 25 years.  Amazon has announced a pull-back on many of those new warehouses, and last month revealed a plan to cut 5% of its workforce (18,000 jobs) this year.  Another astonishing figure from Jassy that exacerbated the losses in...

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Great Book Ideas Need This

What’s the deal with book proposals?

Recently on a coaching call with a potential author, they told us about how they’ve got a great book idea but the response they were getting was crickets. Have you ever experienced that in your writing journey? It's one of the top frustrations we hear about at Author Coaching.

But what if it’s not what you are saying but how you are saying it?

If you want to give your book idea the best possible chance at success, it needs to be in a proposal.

“If you want your book idea to be taken seriously, you need a book proposal.”

What’s a proposal?

It’s the key to securing a literary agent, a publishing partner, and a future for your book idea.

When a publishing professional gets your email, the difference in getting a response or silence comes down to making your book idea as accessible as possible. You know this because you’ve heard it before: literary agents and editors receive dozens, if not hundreds of...

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So Long, Rejection

Rejection happens.

Every writer faces rejection. The difference between the writers you read about and the ones you don’t, comes down to who conquered that fear. It’s up to you to decide which path you choose.

But it’s not that simple, is it?

It’s easy to list how many times great books were rejected – J.K. Rowling was rejected numerous times before she finally found a home for Harry Potter – but we lose sight of the choice that the writers made. They chose to lean into The Resistance.

Let me explain.

Rejection is an outcome, but what if it was actually a positive outcome? To be rejected, you have to revise, submit, and query. You have to hone your craft. One of the biggest secrets writers don’t get to see, and sometimes ever know, is that they oftentimes have less control over rejection than they think because it’s a numbers game.

“The Resistance can’t win if you keep writing.”

A writer can’t control an agent...

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What Question Are You Asking Yourself?

If you’ve ever spent a Saturday watching or participating in a track and field meet, you’ve probably witnessed someone falling out of the blocks. The sprinter is crouched and ready, head down and waiting for the starting gun . . . And then, the moment arrives and they stumble and fall. 

It’s a tough thing to witness, even tougher to have experienced.

We’ve all been there, right? We're ready to go, the race is ahead of us . . . and we fall out of the gate.

This time of year, “New Year, New You” gets all the hype. Encouragement is abundant for 2023. And who can dismiss a fresh start, especially after the last several years? Like the sprinter, maybe you were ready to go, the race ahead of you . . . and then you crashed. 

If that’s you, today is about helping you up after you've broken the promises you made to yourself about your writing goals, your publishing plans, or any other resolutions you’ve made around your...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 4, Issue 1

2022 is behind us. And while it was a down year for the industry as a whole, there are reasons for hope. But a little less hope if you work at Amazon.

Final (preliminary) Numbers

With 2022 in the books (I'm sure we’ve used that one before), sales of print books finished 6.5% behind 2021. The decline was anticipated, as the world returned to a sense of normalcy, and with it more opportunities for entertainment besides reading.  But, on the bright side of the street, 2022 was still 11.8% over pre-pandemic 2019.  Again, for those avid readers of the Update, you’ll recall that we were pleased as punch about 2019 while it was happening.  

Our analyst colleagues at BookScan note that a couple of symptoms from the pandemic carried on into 2022.  First, with fewer brick-and-mortar stores, it was harder for new books to get their footing, so frontlist sales continued to slip (down 10.5% from 2021). Then, with that pesky inflation still lurking in every...

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Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 12

The Christmas shopping season is here—with not a bang, but a whimper. But more on that later. 

Dohle-d Out!

From the “Didn’t See That Coming” file, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle shocked much, if not all, of the industry, abruptly announcing his departure from the apex publisher effective at the end of 2022.  He did oversee the company during the very long and enormously expensive—yet failed—effort to acquire fellow Big 5 competitor, Simon & Schuster. But that sure didn’t seem like something people were blaming on Dohle.

S&S parent, Paramount, did decide to take their $200 million ball and go home—in the form of the negotiated kill fee due if PRH was unable to affect a closure of the deal in two years. In theory, that puts one of the publishing industry’s crown jewels back on the auction block. But with the Justice Department’s trust-busting win last month, it’s hard to see any competing...

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