Publishers and the digital revolution: What’s next?

Jane Friedman


I came across an article by Jane Friedman a few days ago in the March 2013 edition of Independent, a magazine published by the Independent Book Publishers Association (“IBPA”).  The link will take you to the article, but you will have to sign up with IBPA to access the full text.  Although I have been a member of IBPA in the past, I am not now, although I still receive a free print copy of the magazine via snail mail.

Ms. Friedman is an assistant professor of e-media at the University of Cincinnati and former publisher of Writer’s Digest.  She blogs regularly about digital publishing.

The article, RX for a Bright Future: Pay More Attention to Your Authors, as the title suggests is directed at publishers and how they can adapt to the ever-changing world of digital.

The gist of the piece is that the old model of publishing devalued authors, and if publishers hope to succeed moving forward they will have to find ways to bring value to the table for their writers.

Near the end of the article, Professor Friedman lists what she calls “Practical Tactics” publishers could employ to help them achieve the goals she outlines.

It is the second of these tactics that caught my eye.

Create an author collective. Each house should form a group of authors who will help each other with branding, marketing, and promotion.  This isn’t something publishers should let happen outside their doors, or leave to chance; it’s something that somebody inside the house should be responsible for facilitating and nurturing.

The reason I found this interesting is because in recent  months Caleb Pirtle and I have been working on the establishment of an authors’ co-op at Caleb and Linda Pirtle. We are in the late stages of planning and expect to have it up and running shortly.

I  know authors around the Internet are building co-ops because the good folks at Best Selling Reads invited Caleb and I to participate in one near the end of last year.

The notion of author collectives is one that fits well with Indie publishing where so  many authors self-publish but find that promotion and marketing are tough efforts to pursue on their own, often with limited budgets.

We’ll keep you posted on The VG author co-op, but for the time being I would love to hear from you about the whole concept of author co-ops or collectives.  If you have been in one or are in one now, has it been a good thing?  What tips can you share about what you have found to work or  not work in a co-op?

Operators are standing by.

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