Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing For Dollars And Credibility

I heard a talk from a "writing coach" today about how business owners can raise their profile by publishing a book.  I got the distinct impression that the profitability of the book itself is less valuable  for that coach than the free media and lead generation from a book tour.  That approach may have been fine in days gone by when getting a book published was more difficult than today.  Writing for money is easier than ever in a digital world, but everyone is doing it now that entry barriers are so low.

Amazon has driven down the prices of both paper books and ebooks with its anti-competitive tactics.  Defining a simple distribution channel for ebooks though its Kindle platform was even smarter.  The industry recognizes the counterintuitive discovery of ebook profitability.  Hugh Howey's article "Two Important Publishing Facts Everyone Gets Wrong" covers ebooks' financial appeal quite well.  The Association of American Publishers' resources page now reports on the solid success of ebooks.

A cottage industry of enablers stands by to separate aspiring writers from their money.  Transcribing services will convert a writer's audio interviews into a printed record.  The San Francisco Bay Area in particular seems to be spilling over with freelance editors and proofreaders who will do for pay what more competent writers should do for themselves.  Business professionals looking to crank out a vanity book just to launch a speaking tour have money to burn.  They may be competent in their verticals, but stepping outside makes them suckers and invites the publishing world's parasites to view them as prey.  I'm pretty sure the automation trend that's about to sweep through financial services could just as easily set its sights on publishing.  All those cottage industry liberal arts grads can be digitized away once AI editors are launched.

Publishers Weekly tracks its own "Publishers Weekly Stock Index" in regular monthly articles.  PW also publishes a "Facts and Figures" section covering book sales and a "Financial Reporting" regular feature tracking recent sales figures at selected publishers.  I am disappointed that PW publishes those articles in long-form narrative with no downloadable CSV data sets.  They think like writers over there, not analysts.  The serious analyst could construct a "PWSI" portfolio for that stock index in lieu of publishing their own book.  That actually gives me an idea for a future blog article.

If there's a book in me somewhere, it won't be some crude promotional tool.  My permanent products on the Alfidi Capital main site are pretty serious even if they do look humorous.  If I ever change my policy about having nothing for sale, the first thing I would ever consider selling would be my own book.