Publishing as a niche business – Part II

Part I of Publishing as a niche business looked at the notion of niche businesses and the challenges facing all players – from writers to readers – in the world of publishing. Today’s post continues with a series of questions. Here’s a repeat of a diagram from yesterday’s post.

Publishing - a niche business

Questions to consider

  • Perhaps one question is whether publishers are adjusting their strategies to tackle challenges of profitability and lack of consumer data in an effective fashion?
  • Another question, how should authors adjust their strategies to take advantage of niche publishers? It seems to me that publishers have buffered themselves from authors – except their own stable of authors – and consumers; the one through agents, the other through retailers. Could cooperation strategies link authors and publishers in a more symbiotic relationship through well defined niches? Can authors capture their own consumer data?

Which publishers operate successful niche strategies? Harlequin comes to mind as a publisher with presence in the mind of consumers.  Hay House concentrates on self-help and inspirational books, Osprey’s focus is military history books, Chelsea Green’s focus is the politics and practice of sustainable living. I’m sure there are many more examples. With such specific focus come strategic alliances, marketing strategies, author support, distribution arrangements, conference participation and other tactics that are different from broadly based publishers like Hachette or Random House.

To add to the list of questions:

  • Are these niche players more sustainably profitable than the famed ‘Big 6′ players in publishing?
  • If you write content in the markets they serve, can you develop a different kind of relationship with these niche players?
  • How will or should the roles of literary agents change?
  • Will sites like Goodreads and Amazon change the way reviews are submitted, adding some level of scrutiny to avoid drivel and abusive behaviour?

Just to leave you with one further thought – the adjacent diagram occurred in a post about reader-writer relationships.

Here’s the question: how should publishers insert themselves into the interconnectivity mix in order to add distinct value?

I’m sure I’ve missed many other insights and of course asked more questions than answered. Perhaps these two posts will spark some dialogue.

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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3 Responses

  1. Answer: I think the Publishers missed the boat. I think they lost a certain amount of credibility. The publishing model stagnated for 100 years until Amazon changed and improved it forever. If they try to connect with readers now it will come across as disingenuous at best, manipulative at worst. Remember: Readers buy books based on cover/author/story/price. They don’t care much who published the book. And the fact is, they’re already selling billions of dollars worth of books annually with no connection to readers at all, so they must be doing something right.

  2. Rachel has a point. Publishers just don’t get it. I re-read book after book because there just are not the authors I want to read. Why: it’s a friends of friends business and the friends get published first and they just are not well, that good. Editors and agents are fixated with creative writing 101 so we get the same first person, historical present books. We want lost of new authors. with lots of new stories. with a plot. Not easy to find, I fear.

    1. Definitely a challenging landscape for new authors, Jeffrey. I am trying to figure out my best path which is why I noodle on topics like this. Many thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your writing.

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