Book Publishing 9 and 3/4

For myself, I’ve already made my plunge into the heady waters of this digital sea. You may have noticed advertisements on this blog space for books of mine. Last summer I started a company, Trojan Tub Entertainment, featuring my Kingdom of Patria ebook series for middle grade readers (readers from approximately 8 to 13). I’ve released two books in the series so far, Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits and Stoop of Mastodon Meadow, both available, or soon to be, on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, and iTunes. Stout Hearts & Whizzing Biscuits is also available as an unabridged audiobook from Worldwide Audiobooks. If you’re interested, just follow the venue buttons on the homepage of the Kingdom of Patria website.

The Kingdom of Patria website, illustrated by the hugely talented Ted Schluenderfritz, is an interactive experience featuring free short stories, character blogs, and clubs for kids to join. The kids in your life–and the kid in you–will love it!

If you want to learn more about Trojan Tub Entertainment, come on over to Facebook or follow along on Twitter. You can also check out this interview.

Meanwhile, I’d like to hear what you think about this new media revolution in the world of publishing.

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  • http://www.thinveil.net Brandon Vogt

    Great insights, Daniel. The digital landscape has profoundly changed reading. Every day more people prefer digital over paper, quick over deep, and quarters over dollars. The future of Catholic publishing is going to be digital and the most successful books will be those with low price points (free-$5.99).

    I’ll be every intrigued to see how the Potter eBooks sell, especially considering that most people already have paper versions. Can you see a digital book for $7.99 even when people already have another edition? Time will tell.

  • http://devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/ Devin Rose

    Daniel,

    Adding onto what Brandon said, it is quite exciting. However, no Catholic author has the clout and resources to pull a JK Rowling and muscle amazon and others around. Here’s why: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/03/why-harry-potter-e-books-are-and-arent.html

    Nonetheless, this revolution is coming as we speak, e-books are exploding in popularity, and self-publishing is on the rise. Getting your books noticed, however, is still a challenge, especially as a self-published Catholic author. The brick-and-mortar Catholic stores are for the most part inaccessible to you, though this could potentially change if enough self-pubbed Catholic authors pooled their resources and joined something like the Catholic Marketing Network.

    I’m intrigued by the possible connection to distributism that this could bring, though elsewhere I’ve written about the downsides to it as well, ordering online and reading your book without engaging in real personal interactions with people. We’ll see!

  • Daniel McInerny

    Thanks for this comment, Devin. It was you who started this conversation on Catholics and ebooks that Brandon Vogt and I participated in a few weeks ago.

    Nathan Bransford makes some good points when he argues that Rowling’s coup won’t make much difference for the rest of us mere mortals. But he addresses the difficulty of an independent author/publisher trying to have her scale of success selling from his or her own website (and not via Amazon, etc.). That would indeed be extremely difficult. It’s difficult enough to try and do it with the help of Amazon and others. But I do think using Amazon and others opens up a market for Catholic authors that they ought to consider. One doesn’t need to achieve multibillion dollar pop culture icon status in order to be successful. 

    As for Catholic marketing, the Catholic Marketing Network angle is one good idea. But as I see it, what I lose in brick-and-mortar presentation I gain in being able to address (potentially) millions of people via my various electronic outlets. Many of which, like Facebook and Twitter, for free. As the ebook revolution continues, Catholic brick-and-mortar bookstores are not going to be where most Catholics buy their books. I’m a Catholic who buys a fair number of books, and I haven’t bought a book inside a Catholic brick-and-mortar bookstore in years.

    Finally, I’m not sure what kind of real personal interactions you see in jeopardy from the ebook revolution. Do you mean authors interacting with readers? If so, isn’t this an issue even with conventional books? If I have a hardcopy book available at Barnes & Noble, how am I going to interact with a reader out in California? Most likely through Facebook, Twitter, a com box on my website, or email. 

    I’d love to read what else you’ve written on this. Could you send me a link?

  • http://devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/ Devin Rose

    Hi Daniel,

    I concur with your thoughts. But I feel bad for Catholic brick-and-mortar stores. Still, Catholics are behind the times by about a decade that they will probably stay in business for most of our lifetimes, with Catholics buying books there.

    Personal interactions? I meant something like actually going to a store or library to get a book, encountering people there, then perhaps doing a book club or study with other people in real life, that sort of thing. 

    I wrote something a month ago on whether amazon is the new walmart that spurred an interesting discussion: http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/2012/02/13/is-amazon-the-new-walmart/

    I’ve actually been thinking of writing a guide/tutorial for Catholic self-publishing as well, though that’s about #4 on my priority list. God bless!

    Devin

  • Harold Fickett

    Digital publishing does present a wonderful opportunity for Catholic publishing to jump to the head of the line.  Devin laments that Catholic are always a decade behind the times, and who could deny that–at least as a general rule.  Religious markets tend to mimic secular markets in a way that seems inevitable pale and weak. 

    One truth about capitalism and technology, though, is that the last-in have a major advantage.  If you look at the “Asian tigers,” the emerging capitalist economies in Asia, part of their success derives from skipping the intermediate steps of building out technology infrastructures and going immediately to the latest thing.  Thus, countries that never had reliable land-line telephone service now have some of the best cell phone networks in the world. 

    This takes entrepreneurs who see the opportunity and the willingness to invest their capital, though. Much of the mythos surrounding digital technology has touted its democratizing influence.  This has partly come to pass, in the sense that we all enjoy access to much more information now and can say anything we want in a public forum to anyone on the planet simply by launching a blog. 

    In the end, though, capital tends to find ways to channel most of the democratizing back into plutocratic structures.  The Drudge Report is huge, yes.  But the  New York Times may be more dominant than ever because it’s now not only the paper of record for the East Coast power structure but the American paper of record, period.  FaceBook is a case in point that the digital age has a “winner take all” reality that’s at least as strong, if not stronger, than its democratizing powers. 

    This is to say–again–what I have been saying for the last 25 years, and that’s entrepreneurship and investment counts heavily in producing the renaissance Dan and the rest of us would like to see.  It may be a comparatively cheap renaissance to produce, but it still requires financing. 

    People are driven by making money far more than making a contribution to the Kingdom of God.  Why expend capital to reach an audience of X (those open to the Gospel) when you can spend the same amount of money to reach ten or more times that many with different content?  Sex sells.  The paranoias of the left and right sell.  Almost everything SELLS better than the love of God. 

    So, certainly, a major part of the equation on the side of the content producers is to advocate producing content that will at least bring a healthy return.  That way more entrepreneurs can be persuaded to combine their interest in gain with their interest in faith. 

    The “family-friendly” film business is probably the best case in point, at this time.  That business has grown a lot in the last ten years as a result of entrepreneurs realizing that such films actually make a lot more money than R-rated slice-of-life dramas.  Unfortunately, live-action cartoons are hoovering up so much capital that producing a smaller picture looks increasingly daunting to most. 

    This is a long and very round-about way of saying that I pray for the entrepreneur who will say to himself: “You know, this e-book publishing thing presents an opportunity to reshape the publishing landscape entirely and to do so from a faith-perspective.  Let’s DO THIS and dominate the market.” 

    My experience indicates that those not strictly driven by ruthless gain and its indifference to content will wait until the infrastructure is already built-out and then pick around the edges for the niche-faith market that’s not adequately being served by the already-in-place behemoths. 

  • Daniel McInerny

    Thanks, Devin.

    For all my enthusiasm for ebooks I am not eager to see the demise of the brick-and-mortar bookstore–in part for the reasons you mention. I think the future for bookstores would be in being more of a mix than they already are of (1) conventional bookstore; (2) coffee shop; (3) meeting place; (4) showcase for electronic books and gadgetry; (4) music and performance space. 

    At any rate, that’s what I’d be doing if I owned a bookstore! 

    I would love to see your Catholic guide to self-publishing. There are a lot of great resources on the web and in ebooks. But a guide that sees all this as an opportunity for Catholics would be an extremely helpful contribution, I think. 

  • Ulla

    It is still totally difficult to promote books .. Good books like
    Promises of New Biotechnolgoies, Foreword William E May

    http://www.amazon.com/Promises-of-New-Biotechnologies-ebook/dp/B004TM9CZO/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

  • Rootsbuff2

    Publishers do more than just print , distribute and promote books; they also edit them and for the consumer especially, separate the wheat from the chaff, something not always appreciated by would-be authors. Your model is focused on selling books, a largely obsolete concept, since most readers will use a book only once, and so renting or borrowing, just parts or all of an e-book, from a virtual library makes much more sense. 

  • Teresa

    It seems this consumer that the publishers have missed a significant amount of chaff!

  • Teresa

    Harold and fellow followers,

    I hear a repeating note in this post about Catholic Publishing and in prior posts regarding Catholic film and the arts in general.  In your recent post you so rightly remark:

    “This is to say–again–what I have been saying for the last 25 years, and that’s entrepreneurship and investment counts heavily in producing the renaissance Dan and the rest of us would like to see.  It may be a comparatively cheap renaissance to produce, but it still requires financing. ”

    Just now, we can’t turn on the news without someone buzzing about the “super PACs” on the right and the left.  Don’t you wonder what urges a multi-millionaire to back a political candidate with millions when that candidate might not even be nominated for the office or might loose the general election?  There is, perhaps, the remote hope of having a share of the power and influence if the candidate succeeds.  However, I  imagine that it is more the case that these benefactors hold deep political beliefs about the course they wish to see our nation take and understand that a particular candidate is the one to lead the way in the direction they wish to see America take.  It is so important to them that they’d rather risk seeing their dollars disappear than not to participate, not to try for political renewal.

    And yet, more regular folks know more about the latest teen movie craze than they do about the policy positions of the candidates.

    So, where are the Catholic investors in the arts?  Surely there are a few Catholic multi-millionaires who hold deep beliefs about the state of our contemporary culture and who understand the evangelical power of film and the new media in this Age of Technology.  There have to be one or two folks with the pecuniary power to answer the Holy Father’s call to participate in the New Evangelization.  

    We know there are talented artists trying to fight the Culture War with the true, the good and the beautiful.  Does anyone else, believe as I do, that the Holy Spirit is calling faithful artists into action at this moment?  If so, then it follows that He is also calling the angel investors forward!  

    I believe we can no longer risk doing nothing, or merely hoping that the benefactors might step up.  I think we need to make the case for the benefactors both in dollars and common sense, AND in the language of faith. I believe we need to have a sense of urgency about this.  There are SOULS at stake!

    Is anyone interested in joining me in a novena for this intention of the financing of the renaissance Dan and Harold write about?  Perhaps as we enter into these holiest days of the year we can join our hearts in prayer for this battle beginning on Good Friday.

    Are you in?

  • Harold Fickett

    Teresa, I am in.  And I ask that all those who have contributed to this dicussion and care about this issue join us!

  • Ulla

    It is not a challenge to publish as a Catholic publisher it is IMPOSSIBLE
    catholic bookstores take only books from distributers and Distributers are not interested inselfpub Catholic publishers at all…..SO HOW TO PROMOTE A GOOD BOOK????????

  • Lmj Norris

    Daniel, I wish I could share  your enthusiasm for ebooks. You are correct in that the bar is so low now to produce your work in an ebook format, it has opened the business  up to literally millions of people. And that’s really the problem. I have a small publishing company and there are any number of ways you can produce ebooks, but there are a mind boggling number of problems that will keep 99.999999999999999999% of writers from making a living. There are thousands and thousands of people who are tossing their work out there in the ocean of digital data who have no need to make a living from it. It’s a hobby or something they do in their retirement.  They have all joined the ebook author club. They put their stuff on Amazon, often they give it away and almost no one can make a living in the publishing business any more except for the huge companies and the people who are helping facilitate the carnage. There are so many people who are enamored with authorship that even conventional publishers have opened “author assisted companies” where the author pays to publish.

    I also wouldn’t look for Catholic ebooks to jump off the charts. While I have no real evidence other than my own sales experience, I believe the great majority of people who buy Catholic books are either seniors or those who are doing it for some educational purpose like Religious Ed. And there is also the same celebrity publishing issue with Catholic books that you see in other markets. The Pope, a Cardinal, a Catholic TV personality writes a book and it sells. It’s very difficult for the average author to get much attention.

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