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Cohort 9 Newsletter, Issue 5, October 7

To Imprint or Not to Imprint?

By Julie Wilson

This week, Disney-Hyperion announced a 2.5 million first printing of The House of Hades, the 4th book in the Heroes of Olympus series.  Although I am absolutely impressed by this announcement, reading the article brought to mind the issue of imprints and branding.  It only makes sense that Disney, an internationally known brand recognizable by people of every age in every corner of the world, would include the word “Disney” in their imprint.  People associate Disney with quality, enterprise and success.  Why then, do all six of the largest, most well-known publishers create tens and even hundreds of lesser known imprints?

In 2007, Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, spoke at the Book Expo America conference about large publishers moving away from imprints.  Thomas Nelson had just removed 21 imprints in an effort to prevent “watering down” their brand.  He argued that readers read the authors they like and the genres they like but rarely pay attention to the “brand” or imprint.  Why then, would a publisher invest in promoting lesser known imprints, when readers don’t care anyway?  Seems like a fair argument.

In 2011, Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd, argued in his blog that with the increasing popularity of self-publishing, large publishers ought to decrease the number of their imprints and promote their brand in order to assist readers in distinguishing major publishers from self-publishing imprints.  Bransford basically argued that consumers are paying attention to the imprints in order to stay away from low quality, self-published works.  Bransford’s argument suggests that publishers should keep imprints to a minimal because consumers ARE paying attention to the imprints, whereas Hyatt argued that imprints only clutter a brand because consumers ARE NOT paying attention to them anyway.  Either way, where is the value in imprints?

Of the many daily publishing practices that have been effected by the advent of e-books and self-publishing, how the publishing community thinks about imprints is one.  I must admit, that until recently, I never paid attention to a book’s imprint.  Which company published the book mattered not to me as long as it was well-written and one of my preferred genres.  Recently, due to self-publishing imprints popping up all over, I have begun to pay attention to imprints.  I have been the victim of a self-published, literary offensive piece of junk that a self-publishing imprint called a book and refuse to repeat that mistake.  The only way that I will consider reading another self-published book is if I am familiar with the author.  That being said, it would seem wise for large, well-known publishers to either begin minimizing their lesser known imprints or perhaps, take the Disney approach and incorporate their big name in their smaller imprints.  Brand is King!

Please find the original articles here:

(R)evolution of the Publishing Industry

By Julie Wilson

David Vinjamuri, a brand specialist and Masters Program Professor at NYU, points out, in his article on, that through all of the whining and complaining, Random House handed out $5,000 bonus checks as a result of its profitable year and Simon & Schuster are remaining on top, partly due to their signing of previously self-published authors.  Although restructuring “traditional” publishing and embracing e-publishing has proven to be painful for large, structured publishing houses, it has been necessary and in spite of the resistance and  the whining and complaining, it has proven to be profitable.

It is a good time to be a publisher and a great time to be an author.  E.L. James and Hugh Howey, among others, are providing the credibility and authority that the self-publishing industry needed in order to grab the attention of the traditional publishing imprints and take things to the next level.  And, conversely, the traditional publishing houses needed to see authors taking the proverbial bull by the horns for them to see how much money they are losing by refusing to embrace the new era of publishing.

Much in the same way that Expedia, Travelocity and have changed the travel industry by providing competitive pricing and published customer reviews, Amazon and self-publishing models have changed the publishing industry.  Hotel and travel was forced to respond and such is the case for publishing.  The cherry on the top is that the numbers are in, and they are looking promising for the future of publishing.

Please find David Vinjamuri’s article here:

On a Lighter Note

By Julie Wilson

Cohort 9 is half way through our first semester!  To celebrate, click on the link below for some industry related humor:

Dispelling Misconceptions of Self-Publishing

By Linzy Novotny

“My Amazon bestseller made me nothing,”

“Self-Publishing an E-Book? Here are 4 Ways to Leave Amazon’s 30 percent Tax Behind,”

In March, Patrick Wensink put to rest rumors that he was a millionaire from becoming a bestselling author on Amazon. Published in Salon magazine, “My Amazon bestseller made me nothing,” Wensink describes how little money there is in writing. “It’s not because we’ve chosen a life of poverty. It’s that poverty has chosen our profession,” he said. “Even when there’s money in writing, there’s not much money.”

And what did being a bestselling author on Amazon net Wensink? Pre-tax, the author made $12,000 on his bestselling novel, “Broken Piano for President.”

Maybe this just goes to show that Amazon is in some way making up for lost revenues by selling e-books below cost, not to mention the company takes a 30 percent fee.

Wensink also noted that, “But when a friend of mine, who is a terrific writer, told me he was offered $5,000 for his latest book, which came out on a major publisher, it left me kind of flat.” This shows that the publishing companies don’t have the funds to offer up more of an advance on a book. This may be because the author is an unknown, so they aren’t sure how many copies of the book will sell, or perhaps because the publishing companies have to compete with the low prices that Amazon is selling books for, they are struggling to compete.

Broadening on Wensink’s stance, Michael Wolf of Forbes sees that, “Sure, paying only 30 percent is a heck of a lot better than the traditional splits an author would get through big publishing, but 30 percent is still a heavy tax, particularly if the author is bringing much of his or her own sales by promoting to their own network,” Wolf said.

In “Self-Publishing an E-Book? Here are 4 Ways to Leave Amazon’s 30 percent Tax Behind,” Wolf explores self-publishing platforms other than Amazon. Wolf stated that designer Nathan Barry earned $200,000 publishing on Gumroad. Other options are Sellfy, DigitalDeliveryApp and e-Junkie.

However, Wolf advises that authors without a following should still go with Amazon if they wish to self-publish because it is more likely that their work will be seen. “Amazon and other e-book publishing platforms have worldwide scale and hundreds of millions of built-in customers. Those without an audience – and many with an audience – just can’t beat what the Amazon marketing engine can do for their sales,” he said.

Both articles show that self-publishers are up against their own popularity. If they have a following then they might sell books. This can also show the value in tradition publishing houses because these houses have the means to market the books and get them into readers’ hands. Although it is harder to get a book published through traditional means, the system is in place so, at least hopefully, books with content of better quality are published.

Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For a Fee 

By Aubrey Bourgeois

There is a difference between reading an article from an academic journal and an online blog. We give a credit to journals that they will have certain authority to them. In this article, Richard Knox set up a sting to see if online academic journals keep to the same code of honor as traditional peer-reviewed journals. Sending out a research paper full of obvious errors (fake authors from a fake university, data that was faulty, irregular experimental procedures) he wondered how many journals would actually accept the piece for publication. Surprisingly, more than half of the over 300 journals he submitted to accepted his proposal… for a price. Many of these rogue journals appear as though they are legitimate presses, but it is the profit they are interested in. With the pressure to “publish or perish” now stretching globally (the highest concentration of accepted submissions was in India where the weight of publication is quickly increasing) it will become harder to determine which online journals are credible.

Please find the NPR article here:

Is the War Between Librarians and E-Publishing Coming to a Close?

By Kristin Gonterman

Ever since e-publishing became a reality, libraries across the United States have struggled to strike deals with publishing companies for access to digital copies of books. The publishers charged what the American Library Association (ALA) deemed an unfair price for the copies (in some cases higher than the average customer spent on an e-book) and restricted access to certain titles. And even then, several publishing companies outright refused to sell to libraries, unsure of how to approach the situation

But recently deals have been struck between the ALA and the “big five” of publishing—Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, and MacMillan—to begin selling e-book copies to libraries across the country. This is a big move, because it means that thousands of titles that would have been only accessible in print are now available for anyone to read on their e-reader. And although the content will now be considered free, it can officially coincide with every library’s mission statement: To provide access to published works for the good of the public.

Of course, there are still some issues to be worked out between libraries and the publishing industry regarding e-books. There are many publishers who have not made any deals with the ALA, meaning that there are still titles that cannot be rented from the e-reserves. And even though these deals have been struck, there are still restrictions in some instances that the “big five” have enacted, such as limiting access to certain geographic zones. Yet even with the challenges that have yet to be faced, the steps that have been taken in the last year between publishers and libraries have been in the right direction.

For further reading, consult:


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Coffee House Press Branches Out

Coffee House Press, a poetry magazine turned non-profit publishing company, has published its first young adult fiction.  Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery, the story of a young girl’s struggles in the Phillipines, is scheduled to be released in November.  Although the company’s mission statement is vague and all-inclusive, branching out of their literary fiction and poetry comfort zone may prove to be a challenge from a marketing standpoint.  A representative of the company insists that the press seeks content that promotes their mission statement, which includes enriching literary heritage, first and foremost and then figure out how to successfully market.  It will be interesting to see if, over the winter, Coffee House Press has the ability to add the unique marketing strategies that are required in the world of young adult fiction.


-Julie Wilson