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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Why publishers are failing, Wayne Rooney, Richard Desmond and the Gambino family

I've just finished reading a cri de coeur from that excellent journalist John Sweeney which we can all learn from.

He was lamenting that fear of the laws of libel first stopped a book of his - Rooney's Gold - being published. Then when he did find a publisher with the guts to go ahead, the big bookshops lost their nerve.

The biggest U.K. chain - W. H. Smith - won't stock it, and the next biggest - Waterstone -
won't display it (they will sell it if you go in and ask; rather like buying contraceptives in the 1930s.)

Yet, coming out at the time of the World Cup, it should have been a best seller, for it has the following ingredients.

- How the New York representative of ex-pornographer Richard Desmond (now publisher of two national newspapers with eyes on a third) had his testicles cattle-prodded, courtesy of the Gambino family, over a porn deal that went tits up (that seems an appropriate expression).

- How Rooney's agent was connected with notorious British crime boss Tommy Adams

- And (rather cheering) Rooney did not pork the old slapper the press stories said he did, and has turned out to be an all round good guy, which must be damn hard in the world of football.

When I read all this, I thought one thing immediately: why the hell didn't Sweeney (or his publisher) go ahead and sell on the Internet?

The reason takes us back to the old adage: if the railways had realised they were in the transport business not the railway business they would now own the airlines.

If the publishers realised they were not an adjunct to the printing business, they would all be in better shape. (As would the newspapers).

My publisher asked me three years back if I had anything they could sell. "We will publish anything you write."

I said I would have a book of 51 helpful marketing ideas eventually.

When I said I had it ready, they didn't want to do anything. Why? Because they have no idea about the realities of internet marketing - and very little about marketing generally.

I'm damn glad I have never given them the copyright of the three books they have published.

Look at the economics of all this, by the way. The author generally gets only 10% on sales - even less on overseas rights - from a conventional publisher.

When you publish on the Internet it's almost exactly the reverse.

Oh, and if you're wondering, yes: the 51 ideas book is almost ready, and it is indeed based on the helpful ideas series I send out.

P. S. Thanks to those of you who expressed interest in EADIM. More news on that shortly - I have another very interesting speaker.

Please forgive me for being so damn disorganised, everyone. I take on too much - but it usually turns out well in the end.


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