Friday, 18 December 2009

Time to put the lights out?


CC director Ali Muirden joins the debate about Stephen Covey's latest digital deal and what it might mean to traditional publishers.
Well, the publishing world was all a-twitter this week following the news that Stephen Covey (author of The Seven Habits of High Effective People) was to eschew the traditional publishing route and go it alone on the digital highway.

The blogosphere is awash with various writers debating what this means for struggling authors everywhere and vowing the time is approaching when they can be masters of their destinies!

Somehow I don’t think the major publishing corporations will be switching off the lights, turning off the water supply and putting the cat out just yet.

As my business partner Lorelei and I know, digital publishing is not without its challenges and the need of some industry knowledge. I give thanks daily for the rigorous training and skills I managed to accrue over my 27 years with the Macmillan Publishing Group.

One of the most brilliant things (and there were many) was that the company allowed me a great deal of freedom and the space to learn the business - sometimes at great expense to them!
During my time at Macmillan, I learned many skills - including negotiating, communicating, selling, presenting, project managing, audio producing and directing, production methods, copy writing, understanding the finance of the business and jargon-busting, to name just a few. There aren't many industries left where you are given this kind of support - and I look back on my time there with huge affection and gratitude.

But getting back to Stephen Covey: We should not forget that he is already a huge, best-selling author, whose name is known globally. He is not a struggling writer trying to make his mark in the world and to get his work recognised.

He’s also likely to have a great team of people to work with in order to get his book edited, designed and put into production. And we haven’t even covered sales and distribution which is another huge and complex area of the process of selling a book, even digitally.

These are skills worth their weight in gold and without which most authors would be lost.

Let’s face it, most writers gratefully recognise the value their editorial team give to their work. Check out most “acknowledgments” sections in any book and nine times out of ten you’re bound to see a list as long as your arm of people the author wants to thank “at my publishers”.

And there’s a very good reason for that! - AM

We’d love to know: Do you think it’s time for publishers to shut up shop?

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