President’s Column:
Designing Your Publishing Program

December 2003
by Don Tubesing

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Book publishing is different from most other business ventures in two key ways that make it essential for you to be very clear about your specific mission and the product line that reflects it.

First, book publishing depends on the constant creation of new products. If you sold drywall screws you could plan to market essentially the same line of products indefinitely. If you sold mattresses you could do the same, with a bit of improvement here or there over time. But when you publish books, you have to keep locating, selecting, producing, and marketing a different collection of brand-new products each year. That takes a lot of work, and it entails a lot of risk.

Second, book publishers are constantly inundated with a random selection of new business proposals. While your drywall screw business won’t get a rash of proposals to create a new type of container (even though both screws and containers hold something together), and while the mattress company won’t get proposals for bedroom water fountains (even though both water fountains and mattresses might add to the quality of sleep), as a book publisher you will receive proposals of every type and on every subject under the sun that could someday fit into a book. How about doing a book on dog training? Or sports medicine? Or Bering Strait ethnology? Or love poetry? Or sadistic jokes? Yes, you will get them all. The cacophony of author proposals shouting at you for attention can be confusing–and, w…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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