Brent Sampson interview – part 2

… continued from yesterday’s post…

JR: As an author, what are your views on the publishing industry as a whole? How do these views differ from that as your role as CEO of Outskirts Press?

Brent:  I was always frustrated by the traditional publishing industry, and I still am. Even now, I rarely even get acknowledgement from literary agents when I submit anything to them. That’s rude. The traditional industry is kind of like the US Postal Service; the world has changed and their business model isn’t changing with it.   As the CEO of Outskirts Press, I can see both sides. Authors are artistic, creative, and passionate. Often that comes with a fervor that is hard to contain, and sometimes that fervor is joined by a type of “blindness” or “deafness” to suggestions, recommendations, or even business realities.

JR: Many authors, and even publishers, struggle to sell books. Why do you think these struggles persist and what advice would you give an author to sell more?

Brent:  Many authors have a misconception about what constitutes a financially successful book because they watch JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer on the news and project themselves into that reality.  Well, there is a reason JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer are on the news — they’re news! Which means, they’re exceptions.  In the business sense, a financially successful book is one that earns more than it cost to produce and market.  For self-publishing firms, it is much easier for an author to have a “successful” book because a successful self-publishing author is not subsidizing the publisher’s losses on their other books (well, unless you’re using a “free” service and then yes, your success is obviously subsidizing other authors’ failures).

 JR: You have a book called Sell Your Book on Amazon which has been well-reviewed. It seems to have helped many authors. If you could tell a new author how to reach their marketing and ultimately, sales potential, what would you tell them to do?

Brent:  Read as many books or articles about marketing that you can. Sell Your Book on Amazon is just one, and I would recommend it, but there are so many others, all filled with great suggestions and tactics, from Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book to Weber’s Plug Your Book.  Read them all, and then, most importantly, act upon what you read. It doesn’t do any good if you don’t follow through on the advice.

JR: This book really came out at a prime time for internet sales to increase, as the economy really started it’s downturn around 2007. How has internet marketing revolutionized the industry? It seems like selling to “brick and mortar” retailers is not as imperative as it once was.

Brent: You’re right, as brick and mortar retail sales stagnate or even decline, online book sales have been growing consistently for a decade.  The “book math” is much more in the author’s favor and with social networking opportunities like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and author websites, the marketing playing field has really leveled for a tenacious online marketer.

JR: You have another book called Self-Publishing Simplified that came out in 2005 when self-publishing was starting its rise in the industry. How do you think self-publishing has changed an industry that used to be dominated byNew York conglomerates? Where do you think it will go from here?

Brent:  The music analogy has been mentioned before in association with this question, and it’s very applicable.  Music conglomerates went out of business when music moved online, and no one seemed to realize (or care) that Apple wasn’t making their money selling music — they were making their money selling the hardware that played the music.  The same thing is happening now with Amazon and the Kindle, Apple and the iPad, and other up-and-comers.  And the publishing industry, even knowing what happened with music, is just passively allowing the same thing to happen to them.  That’s great news for Amazon and Apple, and for the content creators (writers) who use companies like Outskirts Press to manage the production and digital distribution side; but not such great news for traditional elements of the industry like New York publishers, literary agencies, or brick and mortar bookstores, all of whom are banging their heads on the wall instead of reading the writing on it.

… to be continued tomorrow…