Tag Archives: ebook

Our Corporate Secrets, Revealed

In the new year I’ll be starting a new job, moving from the corporate level of Macmillan to the publisher level at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (More on this later.)

And since the holidays are a time of giving, I thought I’d burn all my bridges by revealing our corporate secrets. I’m like The Insider guy without the accent!

Ebook Pricing – The hot debate in publishing this year. How do you set prices for a new format so author, publisher and reader all get a fair deal? While some houses like Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins are experimenting with windowing ebook releases, we’ve tried a more controversial method. Ebooks are released the same day as the hardcover, but the pricing is determined by those numbered balls you see on lottery drawings. If the three balls come up 981, then the ebook is $9.81. (Or $981, depending on how we’re feeling.) We’re still fine-tuning this, and may introduce glow-in-the-dark balls in 2010.

Author Advances – Many point fingers at high author advances as part of the problem. If a publisher commits $500K or more to a book, it’s in their fiduciary interest to make a blockbuster right out of the gate. (Obviously, this may draw publicity efforts from smaller but no less valid books.) We’ve solved this problem using advanced game theory. The Fairmont Method indicates that where author advances X exceed market stability at Y, the percentage differential A is squared by X through the author writing “a really good book everyone will read.”

It’s All Mad Libs – All of our fiction is written as Mad Libs, with blanks for character names and places. Then, just before going to press, we insert the name of the most recent scandalized celebrity. Wonder why that moving debut novel about 1920s life in the deep south is narrated by a precocious twelve-year-old girl named Tiger Woods? Wonder no more. (We tried this with historical nonfiction, but everyone just got confused.)

Bailout Money – Obama gave us, like, $4 billion in February. So we’re coasting on that for a while. Thanks taxpayers!

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Interesting Work Across the Pond

The Digitalist

I’m a big fan of Sara Lloyd and the whole Pan Macmillan team at The Digitalist. And not just because they’re the UK side of my company, either.

Their Picador imprint recently received a big push for The Men Who Stare at Goats when it was chosen by Jonathan Ross (@wossy) for his #wossybookclub. If we ignore the difficulty of organizing posts around a lengthy hashtag (those 140 characters are valuable, you know), what we have is Twitter really driving sales for a title. I suppose 270K followers will do that.

Pan Mac’s team has used the opportunity to roll out their latest experiment: subscription-based content using ebooks. Read their full write up here. This is exactly the kind of exciting work I hope makes it stateside.

Related: If you haven’t read Sara Lloyd’s “A book publisher’s manifesto for the 21st century,” you owe it to yourself to do so.

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Filed under ebooks, industry, macmillan