BookCamp Vancouver 2010 – Part 5

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Working in Publishing

Am now learning about capitalism and publishing! Let’s see if I can figure out how to make @toasted_cheese make some money. # bcvan10 October-01-10 2:08:33 PM via Seesmic for Android

Presenter asked who already worked in publishing. Hmm, define what you mean by “work” and “publishing” 😉 I mean, I tend to think of myself as a writer/editor, but Toasted Cheese is a publisher, so by extension… Although, TC’s not a print publisher and not a publisher of books, so we have different concerns.

@boxcarmarketing Kevin Williams on capitalism & books. Own the means of production. U make way more $ from other people’s labour than your own.

@boxcarmarketing Book = Single Business Unit. It can be analyzed independently. ROI measured for each SBU.

@somisguided Chain of value added process: editorial, design, production, sales/marketing, distribution, $ collection. All pts that add value.

Editors never go out of style. Yes! He distinguishes substantive editing from copy-editing. Substantive editing requires talent. Not just applying rules.

@somisguided Editing is a talent, not a mechanical skill. Kevin Williams on jobs in publishing.

Ok, yes, I agree that substantive editing leans more to the innate talent side of things than copy-editing does, but at the same time, I think being a good copy-editor does require talent (and not just mechanical skill). Being a good copy-editor (as opposed to a mediocre one) is kind of like being a good translator. It’s not just about knowing the rules, it’s about how/when one applies them. And it’s a thankless job. If a copy-editor does her job well, people think she hasn’t done anything. But if she misses a single typo, people immediately spot it and pounce!

Publish the text not the author. One suggested model was doing substantive editing in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

Substantive editing, percentage of profits. Hmm, intriguing! Paid editing service maybe? (@amandamarlowe) #bcvan10 October-01-10 2:13:11 PM via Seesmic for Android

Presumably, you’d have to have a good feeling about the manuscript’s ability to sell. But it made me think, with self-publishing becoming so popular, there must be a market for an editing service. What if TC offered a range of editing services for a fee and then we rolled those fees back into the site?

Need bookishness! Well, we have no shortage of that 🙂 #bcvan10 October-01-10 2:15:22 PM via Seesmic for Android

@boxcarmarketing You need to bring bookishness to the industry. Do you know the canon? Just knowing facebook is not enough.

Ah, the “canon.” 😉 I think the advantage we have as a group rather than a single person is that we each have different strengths and familiarities. So we could match manuscripts with the most appropriate person.

Text + reader = content. Does experience of reading change the text? (Yes! See also: all my blathering about dissertation.)

@boxcarmarketing Ppl who buy only 10 books a year, they don’t browse a story. They need recos from peers. They are not reading randomly.

@boxcarmarketing Referential authority should not be underestimated. Especially in a market of 300K new books a year. Acquisition vs. New Biz.

I thought, only at a book conference would someone say “only 10 books a year” and everyone go along with that being a small amount. LOL! Someone who’s buying 10 books / year still seems like an above-average reader to me. I mean, you don’t necessarily buy every book you read (people still go to the library, borrow books, pick up freebies, etc.) so if you’re buying 10, you’re probably reading more than 10. Am I crazy or does reading a book / month actually seem like a lot for the average person? (I suppose there are stats somewhere…)

Where was I going with this? Oh, right. The idea that someone who reads say a book / month doesn’t browse or choose books randomly, but only reads what peers/marketing tell them to. Hmm, not buying it. I’d buy that for the ONE book a year reader, the person who just reads The Da Vinci Code or the latest Stieg Larsson or whatever just so they can join in the water cooler conversation. The ones who are interviewed with their copy of Twilight saying they don’t really like reading or haven’t read a book since high school. You know what I’m talking about. But someone who’s reading a book a month is going to be a more independent reader than that, I think.

Not sure what my point is here. Maybe that there’s an inflated idea of how many books the average person buys/reads? Are those two things even the same thing? Let’s say Person A’s 10 books consist of 3 coffee table books, 2 cookbooks, and 5 picture books to be given as gifts, while Person B’s 10 books consist of 10 mass market paperbacks by Person B’s favorite mystery novelists. Person A is a book buyer (but may not be a reader at all). Person B is a buyer and a reader. A Venn diagram would be useful here. But you’ll have to imagine it, because I’m not going to draw one. Moving along…

@adamgaumont “If it’s newer than Mickey Mouse, will it ever be out of copyright?”

This was another instance where it was clear copyright wasn’t fully understood. The question was about publishing books that were out of copyright (like say you wanted to publish Jane Austen). Even though the term “out of copyright” was used, the question still related to who do you ask for permission. Well, if it’s out of copyright, you don’t have to ask for permission. It’s in the public domain. I could see this caused some consternation (sort of a “that’s not right” kind of feeling, I think), and I think it might be that sort of instinctively possessive feeling about creative work that allows Disney et al. to get away with lobbying to extend copyright ad infinitum. But letting something go out of copyright doesn’t take away one’s moral obligation to attribute the creation to the creator. We still put Jane Austen’s name on the cover of Pride and Prejudice. The difference is now anyone who wants to can put out an edition of Pride and Prejudice or make a movie version of it or create derivative works based on it (e.g. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) without having to ask permission or pay royalties to Jane’s great-great-great-great-great-nieces or nephews.

More books published = more used books. (Yay, used books!)

Yesterday: recap of third session

Tomorrow: recap of fifth (final session)