Weakness of the Big Six Publishers

20 Oct


We all know what the big six are good at. They know how to produce a quality-looking book and get it into bookstores. They know the publishing landscape, and they know how to get a title into the market.



Large traditional publishers have relationships with book stores and book chains. They have publicists working for them to promote their books and editors to polish the final products. They have established relationships with their customers over many years or even decades. They submit books to all the major book awards. Imagine trying to research, compile, address, and pay for 200 give-away books and shipping just to put them in the hands of jurors. And I’m sure there are a lot more things that they do to get books to the readers.

To learn where they miss the boat is to gain access to a market segment and marketing ideas that you might have overlooked.

1. New York Publishers Don’t Think Outside the Mainstream
Publishers have particular criteria they look for in a successful book; the first is mainstream appeal, which is understandable since they have to appeal to a larger bookstore-driven market. If you have a book that is outside the mainstream, this is actually good news, unless you’re trying to find a major house to pick you up. The idea here is to understand that traditional publishing dominates the mainstream, but it’s the niches that tend to do very well. You’ll see these books in places like book clubs or the Writer’s Digest book collection and smaller, niche publishing houses.

2. New York Publishers Don’t Do Consumer Research
Yes, often publishers do not do consumer research. How do publishers know what to publish? They tend to rely on bookstores to direct their attention, as well as trends. What does this mean for you? If you have access to consumer data, you are light years ahead of the big six. Sometimes just having a mailing list on your website or even having a website where you interact with your consumer is sufficient. If you have access to this data and you are publishing mainstream, you are a very valuable writer to any publisher out there. Having access to this data is crucial for most of us and seen as a bonus when a publisher is considering a manuscript.

3. New York Publishers Don’t Publish to Niche Markets
Niche markets have no appeal to publishers and ironically, that’s where the trend of successful authors is headed: into the niches. Niches can be powerful but New York publishers stay away from them. Their entire model is set up to cater to mainstream product, so to slot some obscure, niche work in there would never work.

4. New York Publishers Don’t Sell Direct to Consumers
Publishers don’t sell from their websites; many have tried and failed. Why? Because the publisher isn’t the brand, the author is. This is starting to change in some areas as publishers seek to bypass Amazon and gather their share of the consumer market. Most consumers don’t really identify with a publisher as much as they do an author or a trusted online shopping portal like Amazon or

5. New York Publishers Only Promote Their Authors to the Top 30 Media Markets
When publishers develop marketing plans for their books, they don’t look at markets that aren’t in the top 30.  Knowing the landscape and marketplace will position you for success and you likely won’t get caught off guard by a stumbling block or situation that could have been avoided. Know your market – the more you do, the faster you will succeed!

Excerpts, reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free eZine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.



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