Why the book publishing industry needs to ‘Pivot’
By Jane Curry - Director and publisher of Impact Press and Ventura Press
When I am asked what I do, and I say I’m a book publisher, the statement is met with curiosity and great interest. Books and the world of publishing are endlessly fascinating to outsiders. Our best have lasted the test of time and remain icons and inspirations to this day: think Bronte, Proust, Austen and Tolstoy. We are the grown-up cousin to the disposable print of magazines and newspapers. And we provide the narrative capital to the film and television industry – from Ian Fleming to J.K. Rowling.
So, you can see why I chose a career in books – art and commerce elegantly combined to create a lasting cultural legacy.
But I have always found a great disconnect between the skills and intellectual rigour of publishers and how we are perceived. Maybe it came from my teenage sons asking me why I chose publishing over banking or law – as they saw the disparity in the rewards on offer. The value proposition came starkly into focus when I tried to raise capital for a new publishing venture last year. I met with many people with a strong track record in investing and who viewed being an author as a career ambition, but could not see any value in book publishing – the very vehicle that transforms writers into global authors.
So, I was forced to look at what the actual value was in a book. It clearly was not the commercial return – as I was judged against the disrupters and had no ‘hockey stick growth’ to show. So to talk the talk of the entrepreneurial world – I made a crucial pivot to look at books in a new way – as a product with a set of key value propositions – not just the potential return from bricks and mortar retail.
Thus Impact Press was born. I never stopped believing in books – but I had to pivot. Pivot the business to face the people who also valued books – the authors themselves.
A professionally published book provides the author with a unique set of attributes that no blog, TED talk or slick PR pitch can achieve.
A book offers an impressive set of values, including thought leadership, professional credibility, intellectual fulfilment and admiration from peers. It can enhance your career, give you an international public platform and provide you with a professional or personal legacy to leave behind.
Impact Press works under a hybrid-publishing model that allows the author to take control by investing in the upfront costs of publishing their book, bypassing the closed doors and slush piles of the big traditional publishing houses, whilst still enjoying the perks that these publishers offer their chosen authors.
Unlike self-publishing, they enjoy a one-on-one relationship with their editor, multiple cover designs chosen by the author and managed by our Creative Director, the highest production and quality (no A4 copy paper and awkward spine here), access to sales and distribution into every Australian and New Zealand bookshop by our partners at Simon & Schuster Australia, as well as international reach via Amazon and Book Depository, and double the royalties at the other end.
Every aspect and decision of this process is managed by my team, using our years of knowledge in the industry to know what makes a book successful in the market.
I made the pivot to empower the author and create a new perspective on the values proposition held in a book. I believe this to be the future of the industry – we publishers are professionals, just like the lawyers and the bankers and we can offer professional services, which have the capacity to create success and transform futures.
Jane Curry is the director and publisher of Impact Press and Ventura Press. With over 25 years experience in the publishing industry, she currently sits on the board of the Australian Publishers Association and the Copyright Agency, and heads the Independent Publishers Committee.