Saturday, May 22, 2010

Those Niche Markets - by Terry Burns

It was nice to have a group of clients all at one place and time at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park. I was able to get with all of them but scheduling was such that I couldn’t put together a little meeting with all at once. I would have liked that, and had a great cabin it could have been done in. Maybe next time. Still, there was some strategizing, some sharing of information, and good times to just get to know one another better.

I do want to get all my clients pubbed. I know the odds say that I won’t, but I’m trying. It was interesting when the editors sat down on the “Future of Publishing” panel that they remarked how the midlist was disappearing and it was becoming either big or little. The larger publishers not wanting to address any niche markets and the small independents making a living identifying and serving the niche markets the bigs don’t want to do. Over the past year or so I have taken some of my clients into these niche markets and have even gone that way with my own books.

I am still more interested in having major titles with major publishers, but I am not afraid to use the niche markets to try and get authors started. A larger publisher bringing out a book and not getting some significant five figure sales can hurt on trying to sell more books. An independent publisher set up to go into a market of modest four figures sales and the author does so and does so with a solid number looks more attractive to another publisher than someone who maybe sold more books but where the expectation was higher. In other words, quickly selling out a print run of 2000 copies might be more impressive than selling 5,000 copies when the expectations were much higher than that.

All of the start-ups and small independents are serving some modest but very viable markets. The Future of Publishing panel saw that as an emerging trend and one that would be increasingly important. They also pointed out how quickly things can change in publishing these days and these smaller organizations can identify changes and turn on a dime whereas the larger ones need time to work change in the organization. They felt authors can benefit from the changing nature of publishing if they were abreast of the changes and they could turn on a dime as well, maybe even a nickle.

Some of the new technologies are gaining a following, but again, the smaller organizations are better positioned to identify and utilize them, and again authors and agents are better positioned to identify and embrace such technologies. Larger organizations have the resources to make more effective use of a new technology once it is established, but the smaller ones will lead the way.

It's a brave new world in publishing.



patriciazell said...

I would recommend that authors read blogs by agents such as yourself and publishers such as Michael Hyatt to learn all they can about the state of publishing. In the world of books, what we don't know can cause us to be discouraged. Any writer who wants to be published needs to have a realistic understanding of what is happening. Thank you and your fellow agents here for updating us.

Brenda Nixon said...

I appreciate your comment that you want to get all your clients pubbed. You certainly sped up the publishing of my award-winning The Birth to Five Book (Revell) after we met at the Write To Publish Conference.
My only regret? You & I don't run in many of the same circles so I don't get to see you - my agent - more often. :-]

Millie Samuelson said...

Hi Terry! Would you be willing to share these comments on Hoosier Ink's blog on June 11? What you've said is tremendously important, I think. . . I would do the posting by just copying and pasting, including your photo and a bio line. Thanks for considering it! (I'm Diana's author.)