Innovations in Publishing

Facilitated by Steve Piersanti, President of LDSPPA and Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Link to full audio file

Marketing and Distribution

  • Find more channels to get your digital publications out into the world.
  • Don’t need to give up Amazon (Kindle) as publishing platform.
  • Diversify: Don’t have all your eggs in one basket—can make you vulnerable.
  • Can take years to establish a strongly diversified distribution network.
  • Berrett-Koehler’s revenue is 50% Amazon/electronic. Other distributors include IPG, Costco, Ingram, Enthrill (Canada) and Trajectory (China); also corporate, government, and library distributors.
  • 60%–65% with Amazon is typical; for some small publishers, it may make sense to keep the percentage that high.
  • Print sales just aren’t carrying sales as well as they used to.
  • Six or so months. Steve says Berrett-Koehler often does 7–8 months.
  • For more info on distribution, read “10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing
  • For fiction, a lot of the market is digital: 10%–15%. Nonfiction is 20%.

Traditional Publishing

  • Longer deadlines, can be a headache with employees leaving, not keeping good contact with authors.
  • Expect authors to do more of the marketing (interviews, blog posts, book signings, etc.); this shift in roles helps publishers remain solvent.
  • Future House Publishing alerts authors that they will have more creative control, so occasionally they suggest that an author self-publish.
  • Publishers put the books on the table—have networks of customers and distributors, can handle translation and rights.
  • Berrett-Koehler facilitates annual workshops to help authors develop marketing skills.
  • Publishing schedules are often driven by Barnes & Noble and other stores; they require a sales presentation/marketing plan/book cover about 6 months before the book is published. Then the stores wait until about 6 weeks before the book comes out to make a final decision on whether to carry the book.
  • Berrett-Koehler sends each book to outside reviewers. Review galleys, social media campaigns, authors speaking, email newsletter. First 1–3 months is huge.
  • Read “What Good Is a Book Publisher” for other benefits of traditional publishing.


  • More books are self-published than published through a traditional publisher.
  • It’s hard for authors to get into channels other than Amazon. Have to take on the marketing themselves.
  • A lot of books have problems in design or editing or distributing.
  • But you have more control; you can make money, can publish faster.


  • Every BK publication is simultaneously published as print and also in universal PDF, Kindle, and epub. A lot of channels prefer PDF over epub.
  • Digital-only publishing did not work for BK. Works well in some areas of fiction.
  • Enhanced ebooks—not just text, but embedded video and audio. Been going for 6–7 years but haven’t really taken off. Marketplace hasn’t really embraced it. Exceptions exist, like test prep.


  • Edit electronically—no physical manuscripts.
  • Edit in Word with track changes.
  • Use XML to organize information.
  • More freelance editors than in-house editors. BK has only used freelance editors. Freelance editors are part of production teams: project manager, book designer, copyeditor, proofreader. The teams have various specialties (design, fast turnaround, etc.), and some of the team members have worked together for many years.


  • Bay Area editing networks: Publishing Professionals Network, Editcetera.
  • LDSPPA’s goal is to become a similar network.