I was recently sent a questionnaire about the future of the publishing industry as a member of the Young to Publishing Group. Here are my answers!
What’s your prediction for the role of the long-form narrative in a world of 140 characters, single images, and six-second videos?
Predictions aren’t necessary; the change has already happened. The two are merely different kinds of content with different contexts in different dosages, and both authors and publishers will need to position themselves as content brokers to stay relevant and connect with their audiences.
What’s the relationship between digital publishing and traditional publishing going to be in 20 years?
I think we will see a lot more hybrid models due to how high the bar for entry is in the traditional publishing game in a world of near-infinite content produced by near-infinite content creators of varying degrees of quality and market viability.
I would also expect e-book subscription services like Oyster and Scribd to become mainstream, much like how streaming services have taken power away from cable TV. If publishers are to avoid being handcuffed by this or any other disruption and not go the way of the TV or music industry, we need to make the waves, and not only react to them.
If you could change any one thing about our industry at large, be it something departmental or wider spread—an element of the editorial process, cross-departmental communication, social media engagement, technological adoption, the distribution model—what would it be?
I’m in the 3% of the publishing industry. That is, I am part of the 3% of publishing professionals who identify as Asian (the rest of the breakdown is 90% white, 3% Latino, 1% African-American).
More meaningful diversity in leadership and in subject matter would be nice.
There is also a pronounced gender gap in publishing salaries. In sales & marketing alone, the average gap between men and women’s salaries is close to a mind-boggling $40,000.
Not only does the lack of diversity matter in the publishing workforce, but there’s also a lack of diversity in the substance of the books. Children’s books written by or about people of color numbered less than 600 titles in 2014, a pattern that has held for more than a decade. #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Seriously.
Beyond diversity, I think we’ll see a shift in the publishing industry from focusing on intermediaries (booksellers/sales reps, libraries, etc.) to the end consumer at all levels of publishing: editorial, marketing, and sales. The age of personalized marketing and content for books is here.
Please feel free to include any additional thoughts or predictions about how the publishing model is shifting.
With millennials and digital natives coming of age and entering into the industry, I suspect that publishing will change more in the next 20 years than they have in the last 100 years. I think it’s an exciting time to be in publishing.
Remember, if you’re not changing, everything else is.