Local author/entrepreneurs are nimbly surfing publishing’s waves of change
During a revolution, there are opportunities for those who are nimble and not encumbered with old processes and commitments. Today’s book industry is undergoing a transformation to a digital era, throwing large publishers and booksellers into a tizzy. Meanwhile three local retired businessmen have each started a cottage-scale publishing enterprise to showcase their creativity and leverage their previous career experience.
Before I describe these innovators, let me illustrate the scale of change in the book business. The latest tallies confirm that sales of eBooks are increasing exponentially (doubling each year), with a corresponding decline in sales of printed books. Over 8% of all book sales during 2010 will be in electronic formats, compared to 4% during 2009, 2% in 2008 and about 1% in 2007. All of those eBook sales are occurring on the Internet; the loss in business is occurring at real bookstores. Meanwhile promotions and publicity are moving from newspapers (who are featuring fewer book reviews) to the embryonic “social media” and “mobile marketing” of Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Social media tends to favour the “little guy” or underdog author who can amass a following; the larger publishers haven’t been successful yet in figuring out these new means of inter-communication.
“Although publishing is changing, books still represent the best way for an author to convey practical information to most people,” maintains Sidney’s Peter Dolezal who has just released The Smart Canadian Wealth-Builder. Dolezal, whose resume includes stints as CEO of public corporations and a successful second career in real estate, recently established Cufflands Publishing to market his three how-to books (the other two are The Naked Homeowner and The Naked Traveller). “The important part is still getting the word out so people will know about — and want to buy — the book.”
Dolezal is using radio interviews and advertising, locally on C-FAX, to promote The Smart Canadian Wealth-Builder, with notable success. For example, one store, Tanner’s in Sidney, sold 120 copies in the first three weeks.
“Part of my motivation is to increase financial literacy, especially for younger Canadians,” says Dolezal. “Investing prudently over a lifetime will allow them to retire quite wealthy. The book also brings new clients to my independent financial investment consulting business.”
UVic writing prof Paul MacRae created Spring Bay Press to publish False Alarm: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Global Warming is Misleading, Exaggerated, or Wrong. MacRae wanted to control the editorial aspects and timing of this controversial and provocative book, and of subsequent titles MacRae and other writers will create.
“Print-on-Demand for production and online sales means I can reach a worldwide audience, and quickly,” says MacRae. He is also arranging distribution in eBook formats on Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle.
A former Globe and Mail editorial writer and columnist for the Victoria Times-Colonist, MacRae has taken a journalist’s investigative approach to climate change — and found a surprising lack of objectivity and credibility around some of the “science.” MacRae will be leveraging his contacts, skills and credibility in the media to publicize False Alarm.
Another local author/entrepreneur is Carl Mawby, who retired almost 20 years ago to the Saanich Peninsula after winning $billions in international contracts for Canadian industry, and has been active here since in community, charitable and social associations. Collaborating with some of the world’s leading authorities, he has put together a readable security and safety manual for the over 55s. With his son Charles, currently senior vice-president of a U.S. high-tech company, Mawby has launched his own publishing company to produce the new book.
Mawby says, “We are never too old to learn,” and is relishing the opportunity to work with his son and use the exciting new capabilities provided by direct publishing and the Internet in his book promotion.
Times of change can provide windows of opportunity, as these three local author-entrepreneurs are demonstrating.
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