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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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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Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 11

 

 

 

The Big 5 is still 5. 


Pan-caked! 


Just before leaving for her new appointment to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Florence Pan issued her ruling on our Trial of the Century – at least until another Big 5 publisher tries the same stunt.  


Determining that the proposed acquisition by Big #1 Penguin Random House of Big #3 Simon & Schuster would “substantially lessen competition in the market for the U.S. publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books,” Judge Pan officially blocked the merger.  PRH has threatened to appeal, but some sources aren’t so sure that S&S parent Paramount will be willing to wait around.


In an interesting deal point, the original agreement between the publishing rivals included a $200 million expiration fee if the deal wasn’t consummated within 2 years of the November 24, 2020, agreement date. With S&S still raking in record sales and even higher profits (see...

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Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 10

We all love the fall.  Crisp temperatures, colorful trees, and—best of all—football.  But this year, it’s more than just the leaves that are falling.


3rd Quarter Results Head South for the Winter


The early results are in (who’s ready for election season?!), and the good people at NPD BookScan are telling us the results are not good. Through the first nine months of 2022, book sales have slid 4.8% below the same period in 2021. Adult fiction readers answered the bell, driving sales up an industry-best 9.2% for the year thus far. But in the all-important category of adult non-fiction, the bestselling book this year is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear—which came out 4 years ago! (I hear it’s pretty good).


At HarperCollins, the fall has ushered in a falling headcount.  In what might be the direst harbinger in this month’s Market Update, the Big 5 publisher (or is it 4 now?) announced an “elimination of a small...

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What to Talk About When You Talk About Platform

Every writer wants to know how to build a stronger platform. We get constantly asked, How much is enough? What number should I shoot for? 


When asked how much money is enough, John D. Rockefeller famously said, “Just a little bit more.” The same goes for platform numbers. More is always better. Even if you have a large platform, it could be a bit bigger, right? Most writers are in platform infancy. So what do you do when you’re pulling together your proposal and you want to talk about your platform that you wish was, “Just a little bit more?”


Here are three ways to talk about your platform when you don’t have one: 

  • Talk about the good. What’s the strongest part of your platform? That’s where you want to emphasize the good. That’s a great place to focus on and explain why it will help sell your book. Good beats great when it comes to feeling like your platform has to be perfect. There is no perfect. As Seth Godin...
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Further Inspiration - Don't Miss Out!

Writing is hard. There’s no way around it. As the old saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.” What often makes writing worth doing is that challenge. It’s putting pen to paper in order to make sense of our thoughts and share them with others. That type of work takes inspiration. 


Did you know we provide further inspiration on Instagram? If you’re not following Author Coaching on Instagram, you are missing out on our Tip of the Week posts:

 Need a jolt of inspiration when scrolling? We also provide quotes to keep you going.

 

If you’re not following us on Instagram, you are missing out! Like an aid station in a marathon, we’ve got what you need to keep going in the pursuit of your publishing dreams. Follow us today!


TAKE ACTION:  Be the First to Know


It’s almost open enrollment for Author Coaching University – are you on our waitlist? We want you to be the...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 9

Cue the marching band….


First Half Reports


With the publishing industry’s first half of 2022 in the books (see what I did there?), we all feel pretty good about the unnoteworthy results: flat.  If you’ve been with the Update for the last year or two, you know that the industry has been rocking and rolling (intentionally mixing metaphors because it’s fun).


Through June 30, 2022, trade book sales were hanging in there with the same period for 2021. The American Association of Publishers (AAP) reported survey results with sales off only 1.6% for the first six months of the year.  Adult sales fell 2.6%, but children and YA sales picked up much of the slack, coming in at 4.3% over 2021.  


Corporate earnings reports for Q2 are here, with publishing hot-shot—and the focus of so much courtroom drama of late—Simon & Schuster still crushing it. S&S saw revenues increase 34% and profits jump 54% over Q2 2021, with CEO Jonathan...

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