It was true at Publisher's University, and confirmed at the Book Expo: Self Publishing is evolving...quickly.
Turning the page to the future of books, the Publisher's University seemed to be all about Amazon. They are seemingly taking over the world. They were everywhere at Pub-U. Yes, Amazon is important, no critical, for any self publisher's toolbox. But it's only one tool - okay maybe 10 tools, but still. Today's DIY publisher needs to be forming a platform, sharpening their focus, and needs to be tightly edited and well formatted and designed.
My presentation at Pub-U was all about how to work with publishing services companies; starting with hiring professionals for editing, cover design, interior layout, and other publishing duties, to evolving our mindset to serve the customer. Much of my presentation covered "orientation" in the growth and evolution of self publishing -- product, production and customer orientations. It's a concept right out of college marketing texts, but fits perfectly with the publishing e-volution.
Product Orientation - In the infancy of modern self publishing, authors found that they could get their work published and pushed out to the public with little regard for the customer. What they had to say, they had to say ... and "everyone" should buy it and like it. They published with the product foremost in their minds because they could do it, no matter the cost to them financially, nor the cost to editorial quality.
Production Orientation - The next major evolutionary step loomed in the production and printing advancements in the self publishing industry. Virtually anyone could publish their product and push it through to the public easier than ever. Thus the technology drove much of this era in publishing.
Customer Orientation - Now that over a million books are being published (and countless others are being produced that the general public never even sees), the customer has finally become a critical piece in the mix. For the first time, the customer's editorial, quality and content needs are a factor in what authors are writing. In addition, the way in which the customer consumes the book is also driving how the publisher produces their book. It's finally the way it should be.
Hopefully the current customer orientation will never change. With the customer in the mix as the major element driving publishing, the industry is bound to flourish.