IVP graciously responded both on Twitter and with the following interview with Al Hsu, senior editor for IVP Books. The full interview has been posted below, and is well worth reading (interview has been edited for clarity). Stay tuned next week for some of my take-always on the issues of publishing representation and marketing as a whole.
And so that necessarily drives publishers toward who’s got platform, which authors bring a constituency, whether it’s a megachurch or a denominational, or an organizational buy-in of some sort or another. And that can be a challenge for ethnic minority authors that may not have those networks or resources to bring to the table. To go back to those 400,000 books per year that are published, the vast majority of them sell 500 copies or less. So self publishing usually sells a few hundred copies around that author’s own network’s orbit. And so publishers are looking for authors that have organizations and networks beyond their immediate family and friends. You know, are they connected with a foundation or a ministry? So part of the challenge is, for any author not just authors of color, how do they build their platform, how do they become known, especially in a universe where your facebook newsfeed is just filled with all these, you know blogs and tweets. There’s just so much noise out there. It’s hard for anybody to carve out space.
And there’s usually a budget for every book for things like paid advertising in magazines, or online advertising. Everybody is disputing the value of advertising these days—does it work, does it matter. It seems like personal recommendations online, social media is more valuable in many ways, and more cost effective, in terms of actually spreading the word about a book. But anyway, there’s all these different possibilities that a book might have. And I should say that the marketing for every book is tailored or customized, based on the author’s networks and constituencies, and also whatever genre or professional societies, organizations that book fits in. So the marketing for a theology textbook is very different than the marking for a social justice book. They go to different conferences, reach out to different publications. And our marketing team tries to figure out who are the most likely readers for this book, and we align author/book with that audience—what’s the best way of getting to that audience. Often the challenge is that we may have a hunch that there is an audience for a book out there, but if there isn’t a channel to get to that audience it’s like that audience doesn’t exist. So the publication of a book is just half the story. It does no good to publish a book and have it sit the warehouse. The publishing process is not complete until the book actually gets into the hands of readers who will read it and benefit from it.