Publishing, Then and Now–Class Outline

Short History of Publishing
A. Gutenberg and before
B. 1690 – Publick Occurrences, the first English-American newspaper, debuts.
C. 1731 – The first general-interest magazine, The Gentlemen’s Magazine, is printed in London. The magazine ended in 1907.
D. 1776 – Thomas Paine anonymously printed Common Sense. The self-published book sold 100,000 copies within three months and became the best-selling work of the 18th century. With the advent of digital technology, however, self-publishing has been made incredibly easy.
E. 1800s – The “penny press” arrives in the U.S. Newspapers were available for just a penny, allowing the masses to consume this information for the first time instead of just the elites. By reducing the barriers to read news, citizens began writing letters to the editors with more regularity. Michigan State University’s Brian Thornton said no first letter to the editor has been officially recognized, but that they increased with the penny press.
F. 1899-1967 – Magazines explode, with several of today’s household names making their first appearances. National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Seventeen, Playboy and Rolling Stone all release their first issues during this time period.
The Big Six: Who are they and what are they?
A. The Big Six are:
1. Random House – Random House, the world’s largest English language general trade book publisher, is a subsidiary of media conglomerate, Bertelsmann.
2. Penguin Group – is collectively the second largest trade book publisher in the world, behind Random House.
3. Hachette Book Group – Hachette Book Group USA (HBGUSA for short) is owned by French company, Hachette Livre.
4. HarperCollins – This house, under the News Corp umbrella, is based in midtown Manhattan and publishes a lengthy list of bestsellers.
5. Macmillan – Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, a division of the Educational and Professional Publishing Group of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
6. Simon & Schuster – a major trade house based in NYC that goes back to the early 1920s and was home to one of the industry’s most famous editors, Maxwell Perkins.
B. The book publishing industry is traditionally divided into the following sectors:
1. Trade: Most of the books you find at the bookstore and intended for the general public, often divided into “adult trade” and “juvenile trade.”
2. Professional: Books specific to a particular industry or even a particular company.
3. Textbook: Books specifically targeted at students. This sector is divided into “el-hi” (elementary and high-school publishers) and “college.”
4. Scholarly: Specialized books, primarily published by the university presses.
5. Religious: Books published by religious organizations for their members or potential members.
The Small Independent Publisher
A. What is a small publisher? – An independent publisher is any publishing company that operates on a traditional business model – where the money flows to the author – but is not owned by another company. That is, an independent publisher is not an imprint, nor an arm of another company.
B. Small presses are also defined as those that publish an average of fewer than 10 titles per year, though there are a few who manage to do more. We usually described these as publishers with annual sales below a certain level. Commonly, in the United States, this is set at $50 million, after returns and discounts.
Why Could an Independent Publisher be Right for You?
1. They’re open to riskier content – what do we mean by that?
2. They are willing to take the time to work with an author – How?
3. They’re specialized.
4. How do you find these publishers?
a. Search the internet
b. Check with bookstores and libraries
c. Ask other writers whom you know.
5. Qualities that might make an Indie Publisher attractive:
a. Plenty of author control – the author agrees to all changes
b. Print on demand – there are no storage issues
c. No agent is required – in fact, most agents won’t work with indies
d. Higher royalties – you’ll make more money on book sales
e. Contract is straight forward and simple to understand – you won’t need a lawyer to interpret it
f. Best of all, it’s not self-publishing – so there’s no stigma attached, no money up front.
On the other hand,
6. Independent publishers may NOT be the answer to your publishing needs if:
a. You want your book to be on the table closest to the front door of Barnes and Noble, this is definitely not for you.
b. You are working through an agent,
c. Your book contains color photos or illustrations.

Where do we go from Here?
A. Electronic publishing
B. Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, EPUB
C. eBook Readers

Writeshop topic – What do you think is the future of the printed book?
Have you been wanting to publish your writing but just don’t understand where the publishing world is coming from and where it’s going? Bring your interest and your questions to this writeshop and join us on a quick trip through the history of publishing and bookmaking to the current and beyond. This is the first in a series of writeshops to get you on your way to a career in writing and publishing.
Saturday, May 17 9:30-10:30 am.
Cost: $25

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