FAQ – Publishing Trends
What are the current publishing trends?
The Bookseller (Joel Rickett, 2 February 2007) identifies the following trends in publishing:
- the increasing polorisation of power within four conglomerates - Hachette (which
includes Hodder-Headline and Little Brown), the Random House Group, HarperCollins and the Penguin Group. These
conglomerates invest heavily in individual titles and in developing authors as brands. According to Nielsen BookData, they
are responsible for an astonishing 50 per cent of UK consumer book sales in the period ending December 2006
- a squeeze on what the Bookseller calls 'midmarket' plyers, such as Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury and Pan MacMillan
- paradoxically, smaller publishers who are part of the Faber Consortium (eg Profile, Canongate, Atlantic, Icon, Portobello, Quercus)
can have greater influence than the mid-market players, as their combined turnover under one sales umbrella gives them greater collective clout
- hit & miss celebrity memoirs
- a discount-obsessed retail sector, and
- a trend towards cutting the number of titles published in 2007 (between 5 and 10 per cent).
What does this mean for the author?
- For all authors (but especially first-time ones), the reduction in the number of titles taken on means that it is vital to get
your initial submission exactly right. Check out this site's Submission Guidelines for tips.
- Conglomerates are not better per se than midmarket or smaller publishers (nb to put in context 'midmarket' Bloomsbury' publishes the Harry Potter series!).
Choosing a publisher will depend on you and your book - sometimes it is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than vice versa.
However, if the success of your book depends on a heavy marketing spend, conglomerates have the edge.
- If you publish in a niche area, single out the publisher most equipped to market you in that sector - whether a large or
a small publisher. Similarly with educational, academic or children's books.
- The retail sector is dominated by the supermarkets for the frontlist and online retailers for the backlist, while in the centre-ground the
chain branches and independent bookshops battle it out. The independent sector is currently undergoing a resurgence as they band
together for better terms, throw energy into bookshop events and work on building links with their local communities.
- In a saturated market place, involvement in the marketing side is vital to your book's success - even household names
do the rounds of festivals and events. Learn to love your publicist!