Today, I had a Thought. About Publishing.

Okay! I hereby award myself the prize for lamest blog title ever.

That said, my RWA conference flash drive arrived the other day, and I’ve been listening to the workshops…  I’ve decided I am User Interface impaired. Probably every UI/UX person in the world should want me on in their user group because I WILL be confused and manage to do something completely effed up.

I deserve major kudos for figuring out how to make an iTunes folder for the files and then a playlist consisting of the contents of the folder. On my phone, for some reason, all the files are sorted in descending order, which means (since they have numerical prefixes) the last workshops are first. Hey, fine! No problem. But then on my phone, I did something, I have NO idea what, and suddenly I have a sublist of all the spotlight sessions. This, I decided, was too useful to mess with, so I’m listening to all the publisher spotlights.

My Mind is Blown

I listened to five or six spotlights so far and here’s my impression:

Avon somehow managed to hire the right people. Because they are the ONLY traditional publisher so far who has shown ANY understanding of the new world they’re in. They have a guy who does their pricing algorithms. They’re studying what happens when they change prices. They’re the only traditional publisher so far who’s shown even a glimmer of being agile in a digital environment.

And then I listened to the Coliloquy spotlight. (RWA18-035ST – if you have the flash drive, listen to it. If you don’t, buy this one when they’re available.) coliloquy is a publishing startup and they do what you’d call enhanced eBooks.

What blew me away about this spotlight was not so much the interesting technology — which it is — but the way they talked about books and authors. They have changed covers for books that aren’t performing as they expect. Let me say that again:


I’ve yet to hear of any traditional publisher doing that for an eBook. Indies change covers all the time– because it matters and in the digital space, it’s easy.

This publisher had a book that wasn’t performing as they hoped, and still didn’t even after they tried a bunch of things AND THEY GAVE THE AUTHOR BACK HER RIGHTS. Yeah. First they tried things to get the book to readers. The publisher actually took blame for that outcome. And then they gave the author back her rights.

They do a 50-50 split of the income and they pay their expenses from their half. Not the author’s half. Think about Random’s “profit split” for their digital first line that comes only after they’ve essentially made the author pay Random’s expenses.

There’s a heck of a lot more they’re doing and thinking about and it’s really really worth a listen to.

If traditional publishers were doing any of these things, RWA wouldn’t have been mostly populated with authors looking to walk ASAP.

I bought one of the Coliloquy books, I’ll report back on my impressions.

And now, back to work for me.


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