Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 4, Issue 5

 

News and Corporate Information about Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  

Back on the Auction Block


One of the lone bright spots in the publishing industry, league-leading Simon & Schuster posted another banner quarter.  Q1 2023 saw sales increase 19% and operating income jump 18%. Regular readers of the Update will remember that these results are being compared to a “gravity-defying” 2022.  But, all the S&S success isn’t fazing corporate parent Paramount Global.  Paramount still insists that they want to off-load this “non-video” cash cow.  


If anyone is looking to invest a couple of billion dollars, seems like a solid opportunity to us.


Meanwhile, Penguin Random House—the former suitor whose advances were rebuffed by the Justice Department—was saved by the (former) prince. Over 4 million copies of Harry Windsor’s “SPARE” were credited for German parent Bertelsmann’s Q1 2023 sales increase of 5.6%.


One last item in the...

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How Do You Build a Book Proposal?

What’s the deal with book proposals?


You can’t apply for a job without a resume, nor can you find a publishing partner without a proposal. That’s why book proposals are so important: They are a resume for your book idea.


A proposal is like a job resume for your book. Literary agents and publishers review them to gauge their interest in working with you. Just like a resume, it needs to have professional elements to help garner more interest. You wouldn’t show up to a job interview in cargo shorts and your favorite team’s t-shirt, would you? Remember that old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have?” If you want your book idea to be taken seriously, you have to make sure it looks the part for the role.


That’s why book proposals are so important.


Book proposals are essential. They are the key to advancing your publishing career. Without them, the chances of finding an agent or a publisher go down drastically....

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Can Blurbs Help Authors?

Are they of any value or should they go?


Not too long ago, the Wall Street Journal did a piece on pre-publication blurbs. In it, they asked: Are they of any value or mere relics that deserve to go? It’s an interesting debate, one worth considering for every author, but for today’s post, we’re going to be pro-blurbs.


You’ve seen them on the covers of books, declaring a book “Brilliant,” “Classic,” and the frequent, “A must-read.” They are almost as common as the other elements on the cover – title, author’s name…and blurb. What was once considered a highly valued marketing tactic, a blurb can still be a very effective tool for garnering a reader’s attention, in our opinion.


On a recent call with a client, they asked, who should I ask for an endorsement? In publishing, the words “blurb” and “endorsement” are used synonymously. An endorsement can be about the person or the...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 4, Issue 4

Publishers Begin to Report Full-Year Results 


As the various regulatory filings trickle into the folks at the SEC and beyond, we start to get a more in-depth picture of the health of the industry.  Unit sales are the closest measure we have to any “real-time” data in this industry, but eventually, profits are what keep the presses running—and BookScan reports can’t help us there.


Case in point, the 800-lb. Penguin (Random House) saw sales rise 4.8% in 2022 over 2021.  But that pesky inflation, and some exchange rate shenanigans, left PRH parent Bertelsmann with only bad news for their shareholders, as earnings dropped 11.8%.  The company didn’t blame the massive legal bills or the hefty $200 million kill fee from the failed Simon & Schuster deal, but those couldn’t have helped. 


Deal Reports in Decline


Another less scientific, but leading indicator is the number of publishing deals signed in a given period – and...

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Why Pre-Orders Matter (And What You Need to Know About Them)

Have you ever pre-ordered a book?


It’s okay if you haven’t. Most consumers don’t pre-order books. Very few take advantage of the opportunity, even though retailers like Amazon offer the lowest guaranteed price: “Amazon.com's price for not-yet-released items sometimes changes between the time the item is listed for sale and the time it is released and shipped. Whenever you pre-order an item eligible for Pre-order Price Guarantee, the price we charge when we ship it to you will be the lowest price offered by Amazon.com between the time you place your order and the end of the day of the release date.” That’s a pretty great guarantee!!! Unless you are a super fan of books like Harry Potter, you probably weren’t aware of that hidden pre-order perk.


As literary agents and book enthusiasts, we preach the benefits of pre-ordering all the time. You save money and get a book you were already going to buy the day it releases. That’s a win-win!


...

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7 Tips for Creating a Press Release for Your Book

The media listens to press releases.

Creating a press release is easy if you know these 7 key parts that will help you garner media attention for your book. The best thing about these tips is that they build on each other, so if you walk through each step, you’ll have a strong press release when you are done. Let’s jump in on tip #1.

Tip #1 - Know Your Audience

The fastest way to get ignored by the media is to not know who your press release is aimed at. Knowing your audience means you’re paying attention to their felt need. Who is going to want to read this book? What about this book’s topic will appeal to them?

Here’s where you’ll feel the tug that makes you want to say, “But my book is for everyone.” While there might be some truth to that, a press release needs to be tailored to a specific audience. Your best chances for success will come with having a well-defined audience in mind when crafting your press release.

Tip #2 -...

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Requesting Endorsements for Your Book

How do I request endorsements for my book?


If you want people to say nice things about your book but you don’t know how to ask them to do it, this message is for you. Making an endorsement request is a sensitive, delicate ask. You don’t want to say the wrong thing. What if it’s not about what you say but how you say it?  


A great endorsement is one step closer to getting a potential reader to buy your book.


One of the best compliments your book can get is a great endorsement. Whether it’s on the cover of your book, collected in the interior, or used for marketing, those words give a huge boost of credibility to the author and give the content credibility with the reader.  


Recently a client of ours asked about best practices for requesting endorsements. He had a HUGE list of asks and was trying to figure out how to manage it all. It was super complicated. The quickest way to get someone NOT to endorse your book is to make it...

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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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