Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview with Renee Rocco of Lyrical Press

With all the conversation about publishing, I had a few questions I wanted to ask. I decided to start with Renee Rocco, owner of Lyrical Publishing.

Renee runs an amazing company and Lyrical has been a dream to work with.

In your opinion, do you think that e-publishing/e-publishers will become the new New York standard?

RR: Although I think in some ways we already do set the digital standard, it'll be a long time before the NY houses blow the dust off the way they're doing things. Small presses do digital in a more reader and author friendly way (higher royalty rates, lower ebook prices) and if the NY houses continue to fight change and don't rethink how they present digital reading to their audiences and authors, that's just bad business...in my opinion.

Do you think self-publishing will affect epublishers negatively?

RR: I think self-publishing will only hurt those epublishers who fail to provide a reliable and author-friendly house for their authors. Is it true that some epublishers have felt the sting of fewer submissions? Yes. I also think some houses may be reluctant to admit this fact publicly, maybe fearing it reflects poorly on them. That's simply not true. Most authors I've spoken with about self-publishing want to be the next Amanda Hocking. When they realize she is the exception and not the norm - which will take time as sales figures continue to come in - those authors will return to quality epublishers.

What do you think the the next few years in publishing will look like?

RR: You know, I was laughing about this very thing this morning. Here's an example of what was on my news feed today (these two headlines were back-to-back about ebook pricing): The $0.99 ebook will save publishing / $0.99 pricing will kill the value of ebooks. I think this goes to show no one knows what will be, but everyone has an opinion about what might happen. Me? I'm a wait-and-see person. I'm not going to speculate. If I've learned anything over the last few years it is, no one can predict what's going to happen with publishing. All I can do is be prepared for change and evolve Lyrical Press as it happens. Until then, I'll sit here, quietly reading how one person's prediction of what will save publishing is another's person's opinion of what will kill it.

What do you think new authors should think about when they're considering their future in publishing?

RR: First and foremost, authors need to realize they are a business. Their books are not their babies. They are the tools of their trade. They must be willing to accept constructive criticism. They must learn the art of self-editing. Most importantly, they must leave their expectations at the door. Simply put, what *was* no longer *is*, and what *is* won't be for much longer (see above question about the future of publishing!). A large part of that means print can no longer be an author's ideal and the days of marketing packages are long gone (unless you're a Stephen King type). Yes, your publisher should offer some form of marketing, but unless you're a name (even with large houses, I've recently learned), it will be a more generalized promotion of the house, rather than individual authors. A major repercussion of that is, authors need to embrace social media. That means more than just Tweeting '1k more and it's lunch time!'. That's not being social, which is the main function of that media outlet (hence the name 'social media'). It's about interacting with your readers and not just posting word count updates or only writing-related news. It's about being real, being present with your readers. It's not longer only about writing - even though we all wish it was because let's be honest... that's the fun part!

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