A New Ecology of Book Publishing

Several interlinked shifts are leading to a whole new ecology within book publishing.   First is the loss of jobs in the industry.  Over the past year, for example, employment in print related industries, including book publishing, has fallen by almost 90,000 jobs.  Second, as technology plays a bigger role in all aspects of book publishing, many publishing jobs are becoming obsolete or are being radically transformed.  Third, the expectations that publishers have of authors is changing.  More and more, authors are asked to do a greater share of the marketing for their titles both before and after publication.

At the same time,  the continuing democritization of book publishing means that more books are being produced and marketed than ever before despite the down economy. These trends are symptomatic of an ongoing process of creative destruction and haves created a (mostly) freelance ecology of contractors who are retooling for the new era in publishing,

In addition to the traditional freelance jobs associated with the development of a book, here are some examples of non-traditional jobs this new ecosystem does or might include:

  • Ghost blogger – Many authors use blogs now as a way to build and maintain an audience for their work.  But blogging can be time consuming and the pace of frequent blogging can be demanding.  A ghost blogger is an individual that writes blog posts or tweets on behalf of an author.
  • Blog tour specialist – A person who sets up and manages blog tours, where an author’s work is reviewed on blog sites pertinent to the book’s content.

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  • Social media specialist – Someone who monitors and manages an author’s online presence, especially as it relates to the use of social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari and the like.  Many folks from the realms of traditional book PR are moving into this area.
  • Book project manager – As more of the work of marketing titles shifts to authors, they will need the assistance of a team of specialists who can help them get the greatest possible exposure for their work.  The role of this person is to help guide the author through the maze of choices and assemble / manage the right team of people for their book project.
  • Web developer – The continuing incursion of technology into book publishing arena brings with it the need for experts to help with author website development, widget creation, even database setup for certain types of titles.
  • E-book conversion specialists – There are now many e-book formats, some easier to navigate than others.  A number of companies and individuals now provide assistance with getting titles converted into all the major formats and making sure they look good in those formats.
  • Book video producers – Book trailers are becoming a popular and effective marketing tool.  Creating and distributing a quality video usually requires expertise outside that of the author or their publisher.
  • Analytics interpreter – These days, authors and publishers can be awash in numbers- e.g. website traffic, blog metrics, book sales data from BookScan, social media stats.  Gathering and interpreting this data will become more important as we move from intuition based to evidence based publishing.  Making sense of it all could become a specialty of its own.
  • Online writing coaches – This individual works with authors making the transition to new, compressed forms of writing – e.g. mobile phones, blogs, Twitter, etc.

The emergence of a new book publishing ecosystem is inevitable as the industry embraces technology.  It offers new opportunities and hope for those who have been displaced from book publishing firms over the last decade.

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