The New Evangelization- Pressures on Publishing

For this year’s Stick ‘em Up Campaign I am writing a series of articles about my work in the New Evangelization–some of the amazing opportunities opened up by the new technologies and some of the challenges that face us. If you are a regular reader I hope you will learn about what is going on and if you enjoy these articles, pass them on, share and encourage more people to follow this blog and follow on Twitter.

One of the aspects of communications which is shifting very quickly is publishing. In the past an author wrote a book of a certain length. The length–about 200 – 500 pages was determined as much by the economics of book production as anything else. The author got a publisher who then invested a good bit of money to produce the book. There was an army of people: proof readers, editors, type setters and printers. Once the books were printed and bound by the thousands (they had to print a lot to make the investment of editing and typesetting and paper cutting and printing and binding worth while) the books had to be shipped and warehoused. Then more money had to be invested in marketing the book and more money in distributing the book.

Now there are companies like CreateSpace where anybody can upload their electronic files. CreateSpace holds the files and when somebody buys the book online they print one and send it to them. It’s called print on demand. Suddenly all the middle men are being squeezed. The new technology means all the typesetting and printing and storage and shipping and distribution is a thing of the past. Lots of different titles can be printed cheaply and quickly and the quality is good if the design is good and the content of the book? Well, let the buyer beware.

Marketing the book is simply a matter of getting ads out there online and getting people to talk up the book and letting people know that it’s there. Suddenly the author is in control and that has good aspects and bad aspects to it. Furthermore, the same process is available for the book to be published as an e-book and for audio books to be produced.

This is the process I used for my book Gargoyle Code, and when Christianity Pure and Simple reached the end of its print run I re-edited it, tightened up the writing and arguments, got it re-set and designed a new cover and put that back out there. It is now available online here and sales are beginning to pick up.

What this means for those who are writing and reading is that there is much more material available and the material is cheaper to produce and the price for the consumer will also continue to come down. More and more books will be consumables.

There are problems too. The author-publisher relationship is likely to become more strained. Publishers are seeing their world turned upside down by the new technologies. Writers will have to be adaptable. There will not be money to pay them for short articles as much. I’ll be writing about the pressures on authors tomorrow.

How does the new technology with book publishing affect me? My main concern is getting the books out there–communicating the gospel. To do that I need to make sure the books are distributed, priced fairly and are available to as many as possible. When I relied on publishers to do this they were sometimes okay oftentimes not so good. Now I am trying to get some of the books out there. Much of the publicity is free. Friends write up the book on their blog and we get mentions here and there. We also have to advertise to get the book out there.

The bottom line is this: I am increasingly bearing the expense of publishing, marketing and promoting my work. To publish a book you still need to pay a good designer. To market the book you have to purchase some ads. To promote the books you have to spend time and energy. This too is a cost which is hard to quantify.

So in this year’s annual Stick Em Up Campaign I’m asking you to donate generously. All the donations this year will be used to help advance my ministry of communicating the good news of the gospel in the fullness of the Catholic faith. Your donation of $250.00 will help to buy an ad for a book for a month. Your donation of $500.00 will pay for the cover and page design. Your donation of $50.00 will help me send ten books out as review copies. Your donation of $25.00 will help me cover postage and packing for free books to people who have reviewed them on their blog.

Do you want to help with the new evangelization? Please help me to continue this work through this once a year appeal for donations.

Many thanks to those who have already pitched in!

PS: The Vicar will be appearing later today to give his views on the new evangelization…stay tuned

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker