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!
Product Integration – You thought 30 Rock was the only one? Wrong. Every time an object is mentioned in any of our books, we get a nickel from advertisers. Name brands, of course, but also generics like “chair” and “sunset.” I can’t believe we’re the only ones doing this. Get on it, small presses!
Super Rare Deluxe Editions – For $75,000 the author will tattoo the first two pages of the book on your back. We don’t need to sell this to a ton of people, just one or two per book. A couple Harvard MBA students are doing a case study on this. (I went with Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, which is a great conversation piece at the beach.)
Some Transformers, Maybe? – We traditionally receive twenty “Good Morning America” guest appearance coupons per year. These are doled out judiciously to the first twenty authors who insert popular characters from action films into their work. They get two appearances if they rewrite the book from Optimus Prime’s or Cobra Commander’s perspective.
Schlock Cinema – Book publishing is just a small part of our operations. Almost all of our money comes from straight-to-DVD releases of monster mashup b-movies. That poetry collection you love? Subsidized by Flying Giant Squid vs Alopecia Bear.