President’s Column:
So Big

April 2002
by Linda Ligon

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A Valentine’s Day story in The New York Times reported on a couple of small, independent literary publishers in New York who have had some nice recent successes. I was chatting about the story with PMA Executive Director Jan Nathan–discussing Overlook, with 18 employees and 45 new titles a year, and Persea, with four employees and a dozen or so new titles a year.

“You call those small?” Jan said. “Those are big!” Well, yes and no, we decided.

They’re certainly big relative to the hundreds of PMA members who’ve published a single title, or just a handful of titles, but they’re small compared to those of you who have published that single title–and sold a million copies or more. (Yes, that’s happened.) Big compared to those of us who might offer a thousand-dollar advance (if we’re feeling flush) and have first printings of 2,500 copies, but small compared to, say, Random House, which might offer some writers half-a-million-dollar advances and bring out some of its new titles in six-figure press runs.

Big, small–there are so many viable business models in the wonderful world of publishing, and size and success are not directly proportional. You can throw a lot of money around, publish vast lists, and lose your shirt; you can focus in tight, mine a niche, watch your pennies, and make a bundle. Or vice versa.

The upshot of my conversation with Jan was that we came up with new nomenc…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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