“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. Go to your library or bookstore to find publishing, marketing, and PR books. Publishers Weekly Magazine is the source to learn about the bigger world of publishing. Finally, type “publishing", “writing", or anything else of interest into your nearest Internet search engine and get your readin’ done.
Writing is the message you put out about your publishing company, whether in the books you publish or the e-mails you send. It is all-important in this Internet age. What people read about you is what they think about you. The best rule of marketing and promotion ever is simply that the only thing your audience and customers care about is themselves. Always write about the benefits to your customers.
We are running a business. We are not creating art and waiting for the world to discover us. All of you 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. If you don't, go to the Small Business Administration Web site (www.sba. gov) and read their many articles on accounting and financial analysis.
The path is easy to follow. Do your homework and stick to your Readin', Ritin', and Rithmetic.
Scott Flora is the Vice President of About Books, Inc. ABI is a consulting company helping authors and publishers edit, design and print their books. Scott is also the Executive Director of the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN - http://www.spannet.org ). More information at http://www.about-books.com or call 719-632-8226.