Category Archives: Climbing the Publishing Ladder

Climbing the Publishing Ladder: Why reading books from other cultures is a hidden treasure

Think about it.

Maybe it might be my skewed perception, but most (fiction) books I see on the shelf are from English speaking authors. We do have books from Haruki Murakami and Paulo Coelho to tingle our exotic reading tastes, but I was always concerned with the lack of availability of countries’ treasures.

Classics are translated, of course, cause…they’re classics. But, still there are some translated classics out there not as popular or as widely read.

I never moved into a new sardine can (dorm) without this book on my shelf

I never moved into a new sardine can (dorm) without this book on my shelf

Reading books from other countries helps understand other people’s culture and what they value in stories

It might also help avoid certain stereotypes.

My apologies to American readers.

My apologies to American readers.

Glagoslav Publications is a publishing house dedicated to translating Eastern Europe’s hidden treasures to not only western Europe but the rest of the English speaking world. Modern Ukrainian literature seems to be one of their priorities  since it is at its “peak of renaissance, and the post-1991 period has seen an incredible diversity of literary genres and themes.”

They’re also going to be publishing books by authors from the “culturally diverse former USSR.”

The books mentioned in the article are examples hidden treasures providing a rich and cultural look into certain cultures, time periods and perspectives.

This is one step into creating more availability for these hidden treasures and their authors!

In business school, the other students and I were always being told about GLOBALIZATION and DIVERSITY. We rarely got some decent examples.

I’d say, this is one.  A very important one.


Climbing the Publishing Ladder: Don’t inflate ebook prices

Quick news flash guys,

The US courts have settled over a fairness hearing about inflating e-book prices. After a 15 minute hearing, the Judge approved of a large settlement against Apple and five major publishing houses.

The full story:

Have a good weekend!

Climbing the publishing ladder: Waterstones, let’s talk business.

In case you’re not from the UK (no I’m not staring at my stats hoping to break another record on most views in one day *wink wink nudge nudge*),  Waterstones is a British book retailer.

When I was a kid, I was granted temporary freedom from my parents’ invisible leash whenever we walked into Waterstones. I would run wild into the largest bookstore and disappear between the tall bookshelves. My father had to summon his ancestral hunting skills to find his young cub who would bounce around between the fantasy and mythology sections.

Or sometimes I’d be looking for my parents, and a whole scooby-doo running through the multiple door scene would unfold.

I’m sure the guys at the security monitors had a bit of entertainment.

Unfortunately, when the financial crisis happened, that beautiful Waterstones branch disappeared.

I recently read an article that Waterstones is planning to continue remodeling its stores. This strategy is a means for Waterstones to kick its sales into high gear and bring back the browsing experience for its readers.  From last April, Waterstones reported an operating loss, meaning negative income.

Yeah, negative income, very bad news. It gets worse.

Its pre-tax loss was 37 million pounds compared to 20.6 million pounds in the previous year (before April 2012). The article continues that Waterstones did remain cash positive.

Now let’s see if I remember my accounting: there are four financial statements that you can examine to see how healthy the business is:

1. Balance sheet

2. Income statement

3. Statement of Owner’s equity

4. Statement of cash flows

By stating that Waterstones had positive cash, I assume they mean they have a positive cash flow (if anyone knows any better please email me). But just because you have a positive cash flow doesn’t mean YAY! WE ARE PROFITABLE!

I wish.

It means Waterstones can pay its bills but not be profitable at the same time  (I’ll explain this paradox in an upcoming post).

You probably guessed it by now, but Waterstones did mention they have strong competition from online retailers.

Which can only mean one thing! AND ONE THING ONLY!




The remodeling ‘project’ will continue over the next two years, which qualifies this plan to a medium-term plan (from what I remember medium-term is usually 2-5 years, depending).

Why is this important?

1. Waterstones is one of the major retailers in Britain. It represents, in my opinion, how big retailers are dealing with the current market pressures.  Taking out the proverbial giant brings to question how will the jacks of the book retailing world last without a golden goose? Wait…that metaphor doesn’t fit….

2. Some intro into business basics?

3. Learning about major retailers outside America.

Oh and I intend to brush up on my accounting.

I never thought I’d hear  (or write) that ever….

Climbing the Publishing Ladder: Korea’s alternative

The dedicated writer will spend hours at her cafe spot trying to create the perfect story for her beloved fans:

"No! David doesn't love Michelle! Where do these fans get these ideas?"

“I just published my ebook yesterday! How did they write these fanfics so quickly!?”

However, the publisher sits on his throne and decides the fate of your book, regardless of your fans, your dedication, your story.

"I am not pleased with this installment."

“3 installments? Make it 8. Not including Novellas between books.”

In the first segment of Climbing the Publishing Ladder, it was heavily focused on the nature of the e-book industry and concerns over the printed market. There’s also the question of leftover book stock.

Think Toy Story 3, but with books. And they don’t make it out of….You know.

So how to solve this problem?

Provide readers with a delicious cup of coffee for their body and that little extra something for their Seoul.

Publishers in Korea have opened up reading cafes to sell leftover stock at a discounted price. A better alternative to destroying all those books. These cafes have also become a great place to hold literary events and political events.

Despite the changes in the publishing market and several speculations about what will happen to printed books, Korea has provided an alternative. Just as musicians can make money through digital music and tours, perhaps, printed books can do something similar: Create an amazing reading experience. A physical space for writers, readers and anyone else to meet in person.

Climbing the Publishing Ladder: Ideas for the future

Last week, I posted the first ‘Climbing the Publishing Ladder’ piece. After I finished writing it, I had some comments about the future of the publishing industry.

Everyone agrees that we have entered an era where both writers and distributors have more options for publishing books, regardless of their form. When I wrote last week’s post, the old drafts originally had a paragraph discussing nano fiction and the short story market.

Online magazines such as ClarkesworldLightspeed Magazine and many others provide amazing short stories for readers, especially those who would like to read more but don’t have the time to tackle long series (or books)!

So I can safely say, there are a diversity of options to transport you, the reader, to different worlds that have some long or short journeys. The question I asked last week was to print or not to print.

I have a suggestion which I fully intend to comment on in the future once I learn more about the publishing industry and share it with everyone here.

So, future writers could follow what Alexandre Dumas did when he wrote The Count of Monte Cristo. Chapters could be published weekly, serial form, to be bought directly or in magazines in e-book format. Think of it as your weekly Naruto chapter. When the story is complete, the whole e-book or printed book will available for readers.

I have some basis for this suggestion.

In my last week post, the podcast I linked also shared some perspectives from the hosts. I forgot who (sorry) mentioned they were contracted to write a novella in-between books for the fans. By releasing chapter by chapter, fans will have something to keep them going and…let’s face it, fans are not the most patient of people.



So instead of waiting years between books while publishers, agents and editors worry about their author’s particular brand, this might help. However, this also puts incredible pressure on the writer. Once you publish that chapter, no way can you go back and re-edit it.


So, here’s my alternative to the alternative. Authors can slowly move towards this approach. For example, say I have a book deal for a whole novel (I hope) which is say…60 chapters. For a little over sixty weeks (let’s forget the Christmas week, other holidays,  etc), my readers will be reading my first book series, while I’ll be working on the next installment. By the time the first installment is ‘finished’, give the fans a few weeks off (for dramatic effect), then begin releasing the next installment’s chapters.

Its just an idea. I’d like to look at the following issues first before building on it:

1. Current trends in publishing

2. Talk to other authors, readers, agents, editors and just about anyone interested about this idea

3. Stalk Watch the e-book sales figures

4. Consider the contract implications for the author and pricing strategies for chapters and complete books

5. Consider other changes such as advances from publishers

Climbing the Publishing Ladder: To print or not to print! That is the question!

There’s been speculation about the future of digital and printed publishing. Skimming quickly through the news, you’ll read about decreasing printed book sales and the rise of the machines e-books.

Gives ya a general impression that going digital is the future of the written word doesn’t it? But it isn’t as simple as it seems.

There are articles out there discussing the demographic implications of these changes as a way to predict the future of the industry. These demographic changes are important for any writer to understand, why? It’ll probably affect your future contracts, royalties (for sure), and how to manage your own personal brand and PR.

For example, if you are writing  for say, the baby boomers, they grew up on printed books. However if you want to write for a younger audience, the little spoiled brat next door already knows how to use a tablet better than you. That kid will grow up with a preference for digital books.

Or so it seems (Mwhahahah).

This week at Publishers Weekly, an article stated that according to a recent survey 47% of children aged 6-17 have read e-books, a 25% jump from 2010 statistics. However, according to the Children’s Publishing Goes Digital Conference held in New York (On Jan 15th), stated that the transition from print to digital is still at its experimentation phase.  The conference revealed some surprising details:

  • There was a ‘shift’ back to printed books among teens since last spring.
  • Unit share for online sellers is 41%, however, discovery share is 5%. 81% of discovery still comes from a person, in other words, word of mouth.

The article (links below) continue to highlight a series of mixed results. In terms of education, children’s books seem to be doing well. But in terms of discovery…eh, not so much. If the industry, regardless of market or genre, was that predictable or easily observable in any survey then…well Climbing the Publishing Ladder is useless and a waste of your time.

What am I getting from reading this post?

  • Writing full or part time is still a career. It’s affected by the structure and form of the industry. Just as the market changes, so do careers and it’s important to keep track of the industry so any writer can be prepared to face changes in their contracts, royalties, how to manage their ‘brand’ (pen/real name, image, etc.) and their PR (whether it be offline or online).
  • My terrible and lame attempts at humor.
  • Knowledge is power. From my experience, knowing the market means you can navigate better in the sea storms of uncertainty.
  • Join me in this wonderful experience of not using in-text referencing.
  • See what publishers, editors and agents are reading and observe their concerns.

I highly recommend this podcast to get an overall feel about the changes in the industry as a whole.

One final note, I greatly respect Donald Maass’s classification of writers: the status seekers and the storytellers. Although paying attention to publishing news can easily be interpreted for status seekers to get the most out of the market changes, I write these articles for the storytellers so they can learn how to speak the business lingo and jargon so their books can come out faster.

That way, I can read your books at 2AM and have the best internal debate ever.



This is important publishing news for anyone who wants to write for the children’s market. Also, anyone who wants to be a writer when they grow up. When these kiddies grow up, they’ll most likely continuing purchasing e-books rather than printed.

However, there’s a lot more that needs to be discussed regarding these statistics and the future of printed publishing! I’ll be posting something about this shortly!


When it comes to e-reading, children truly are the future.

More than half of U.S. children are reading ebooks, more than double the proportion of adults, according to a new report from Digital Book World and PlayScience, a New York-based children’s digital research firm.

Some 54% of U.S. children aged two-to-thirteen are reading ebooks, according to the report, The ABCs of Kids & Ebooks: Understanding the E-Reading Habits of Children Aged 2-13. This is more than double the 23% of U.S. adults who are e-reading, according to the latest numbers from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

“If children are the future, then ebooks are the future of the publishing industry,” the report said.

Not only are a lot of kids reading ebooks — but they’re also doing so often. About a third of kids who e-read do so more than once a day. And 85% read an ebook at…

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