“Who here works specifically in a digital area of publishing?” panel moderator Carly Hoogendyk’s question was met with a smattering of raised hands in the crowded Random House conference room. “Who doesn’t deal with digital properties?” About the same number of people raised their hands, a number nowhere close to the majority of young publishing employees gathered on Wednesday, October 23rd for the YPG Digital: Innovative Imprints panel hosted by Young to Publishing Group .
The answers were indicative of how many young publishing employees work in a sector of traditional publishing that now includes a digital component. The three guest speakers each had different insights to share about working for a digital-focused imprint.
Everything in digital moves quickly. Lara Selavka, who is Project Manager at the mostly e-only publisher Open Road Media, said that the biggest difference she has noticed is between a digital imprint and a traditional is “the speed by which we turn things around.” Turnaround at Open Road typically takes from three to six months, while at a traditional publisher, it can take much longer. Selavka attributes that to the fact that a lot of their content is from a backlist so they can cut out a lot of steps, not that they’ve “found the magic bean and are working so much better than traditional.” They just have different content starting out that shortens the process.
The panelists seemed to be in agreement that the biggest challenge in today’s ebook market – and any market – is getting people to pay attention to their product. Thea James, the Co-Founder of speculative fiction review blog turned short story ebook imprint Book Smugglers, has a problem that other small publishers can identify with: how to get retailers’ attention. During her day job as Director of Digital Strategy and Operations at Workman Publishing, James can tell retailers about the press a title has lined up or pay for co-op to market a title, but Book Smugglers is “a really tiny fish that retailers don’t give a crap about.” It has decided to circumnavigate the problem in a way only a digital imprint could do. Although they will still sell through the usual ebook retailers, the blog will reach its audience directly by selling on its website, sans DRM or distributor. Read More