State of the Taylor Street/That Right Nation: 10/18/12

From Tim Roux via Ninwriters:

Top line, we seem to have weathered the storm of the early part of this year when Night Publishing went into limbo and Taylor Street and That Right were set up – sales are slower at the moment, as they always are at this time of year, but sales overall have been more than double last year – we have more or less caught up with our long publishing backlog – we expect to add significant new paperback distribution over the coming months – and next year we should start having movies made of our books.

It started out a very tough year as we parked Night Publishing and built Taylor Street and That Right. Anything could have happened but the main things that did happen is that 90% of Night authors transferred to the new companies and we got a lot more work.

Still, we published our 150th book last night (Hannah Warren’s ‘When the ink dries’), and I remember that we published our 100th book (Mike Church’s ‘dayrealing’) last December, so that means we are fully on target for 5 books a month, and the promotions (Charlotte Castle and Roxanne Rhoads), editing (Jess Degarmo, Catherine Chisnall and Sheila Belshaw) and financial (Jo Ellis) teams are in danger of making us a slick operation. If we could just work out how to handle all those e-mails …

Looking at the overall picture (backwards) from a supply chain point of view:

Author => Publisher => Retailer => Customer / reader

Customer / reader

Inevitably, some books sell very much more than others but in general the Kindle Select promotions have given our books far more chance with the market than ever before. Some books that have done nothing for a year, suddenly sell at least in their hundreds. It is a hit and miss affair – one month nothing, the next a hit. We promote every book up to the maximum 5 days a quarter although there are a few books still not on Kindle Select as they are selling well elsewhere. Still, Amazon is really the only game in town to get to readers.

Kathleen has started something new, which is to point certain authors towards writing books that should be highly commercial. The first out of the shoot is Jess Degarmo’s ‘Blood Lust’ street vampire book, and absolutely brilliant if you haven’t read it. Reggie Jones is writing another one and so is Charlotte Castle.

We maintain our commitment to publishing what you write, but best sellers are good, and we are delighted that four of the authors Night / Taylor Street first published are now making more or less enough money to live off. As there are only 200 such writers in the world …

Kindle Select promos are our most effective tool. We have tried paid advertising but that doesn’t do much. Our latest initiative has been blog tours for selected books – these do far better and the authors seem to really enjoy them. We have another initiative we are going to start next month which we know has boosted book sales for other publishers, and next year we are planning with Charlotte to hold four events in London to try to get to major newspaper editors and reviewers.

Overall sales have been over double last year, both among e-books and paperbacks.

Retailers

There are obviously thousands of book retailers around, but Amazon are by far the most effective in sales terms for us. We can get some sales via B&N, Apple, Sony etc. but these are negligible compared with our Amazon sales.

Amazon has a policy of hitting the competition as hard as possible, thus the exclusivity of Kindle Select, the closing of loopholes where we could play off Kindle and other retailers on differential pricing etc., and we largely just have to go with it

A big leap forward is that all our paperbacks are published almost instantaneously across the Amazon world – US, UK and the rest of Europe – far better than the old system where we had to hope they would turn up outside the US eventually. They are all also distributed through Barnes & Noble.

We have our first test books up now on Espresso Books – backed by Google who are now hitting e-books with their new tablet. There has been a glitch in their database but this should be sorted soon.

We have just opened up a major book store in San Francisco specialising in horror, sci-fi and fantasy, and we will be finalising plans to approach the largest book store chain in the US via a specialist promoter at the end of the month.

We will be starting a major initiative on UK book shops early next year.

Publishers

Well, us.

As you know we have now pulled all our authors back into one community. We have a great team running and the situation is more stable than it has ever been. We are one of the most ambitious new indie publishers around and are working at speed, so don’t expect bureaucratic excellence, but things seem to be going increasingly smoothly – famous last words!

Authors

The model we are working on for our authors is a ‘hierarchy of needs’ I outlined a couple of years ago:

1. set pen to paper

2. tell everyone you are writing a book

3. finish a book

4. have a few people read it

5. publish book

6. have lots of people read it

7. make sales

8. make a few hundred dollars a month in sales

9. write and publish more books

10. make enough income to live off

11. have a movie made of your book

A year ago I said that at least some of our authors had reached no. 9 but that nos. 10-11 would be stretches. Indeed, I set a target for one of our books to be turned into a movie within the next 5 years.

Well, I can count 4 authors who were first published by us who are earning more or less enough money to live off – not as millionaires but approaching a living wage.

And the first TV series of one of the books we first published is optioned for next year via the ABC network and 7-8 other books are under discussion for TV movies, maybe full movies in some cases. Obviously the result depends on whether the movies sell or not but, if they do, there are two revenue effects – the movie revenue payout and royalties from book sales with the prominent display of the related books in all major bookshops across the world.

Now that is what we want and we have strong expectations of getting there within our third year in operation, which starts in March 2013.

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