by Scott Flora, 10-1-13
“The path is easy to follow, but people love to get sidetracked,” said the guru.
Boy, do I love to get sidetracked. Interesting ideas, interesting people, interesting software come into my field of vision and grab my time and energy. These can spark creativity, but on the whole I know I have to stick with the fundamentals.
In soccer, the fundamentals are running and kicking. In baseball, they are throwing and hitting. In relationships they translate to listening and having patience.
What are the fundamentals in publishing? How about those basics passed down from one-room schoolteachers everywhere: Readin’, Ritin’, and Rithmetic?
Of course, it’s a schoolyard jingle, but as a model it can be powerful for covering the fundamentals of a publishing business. Reading is information in, writing is information out from your business, and arithmetic is the accounting and decision making to be financially successful.
Reading is research, trend watching, and learning about all the ways to run your business. Where can you find things to read? Writers are by nature readers so you probably have no lack of material. Here are some valuable resources.
Consider joining one of the national publishing associations like the Independent Book Publishers Association (www.IBPA-online.org) or the Association for Publishers for Special Sales (formerly SPAN at www.apss.org). Also search out local and regional writers and publishers’ groups in your area.
Publishers Weekly is the source to learn about the bigger world of publishing. You can get free subscriptions to eight different PW newsletters at this web page: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/email-subscriptions/index.html
Writing is the message you put out about your publishing company, whether in the books you publish or the e-mails you send. Everything you write is critically important in this Internet age. What people read about you is what they think about you.
The number one rule of is that the first thing your audience and customers care about is themselves. When you write about your book and publishing company, always include points about the benefits to your customers.
Writers and publishers are running businesses. We are not creating art and waiting for the world to discover us. The experienced publishers who read this will say, “Well, of course what else is new?” Many novices will say, “Not me. I will not compromise my art with commerce.”
All small business people need to be good at the financial analysis and decision making necessary to run a business. How do you do this? If you have the time, take an accounting or small business course at your local junior college or other organization that supports small business. If you don’t have the time for a class, go to the Small Business Administration website (http://www.sba.gov) and read their many articles on accounting and financial analysis.
Remember the fundamentals! Do your homework and stick to your Readin’, Ritin’, and Rithmetic. The path is easy to follow.