Friday, October 28, 2011

Lifecycle of a Book

You may remember the post Two Certainties Impact the Book Business that talks about the life cycle [or lifecycle] as it applies to life and business:
“Everything has a life cycle.  If it exists, it is in the process of breaking.  Things come into existence, peak, wane, and fade away.  Things age, they wear out, they become obsolete, go out of style, etc.  Long-term career and business survival is achieved by building one life cycle on top of another—new technology, new processes, new materials, etc.”

The lifecycle also applies to a book.  The Writer’s Digest has a section called Writer’s Digest Webinars & Tips.  It includes a 38 minute tutorial on the Lifecycle of your Book.  Here is quick summary from their web site:

What you'll learn in this 38-minute video—The 5 Stages of Your Book's Lifecycle:
• Birth—How to successfully launch your book
• Adolescence—How to influence your book's future outcome
• Adulthood—How to make the most of your book's successes (and failures)
• Old Age—How to stave off the inevitable decline in your book's sales
• Death—How to resuscitate your book when it starts to disappear”
While the tutorial deals primarily with the traditional publishing route. Still, it is worth the half hour of invested time.  If you are an independent author, the promotion of your books and managing it through its life cycle falls largely on your shoulders alone.  On-line ebooks, online book stores and ebookstores, have introduced a new aspect to the life cycle issue—the long tail.  Once you have near zero production and inventory cost, as you do with ebooks, the need for a book to disappear to manage cost and shelve space goes away.  If you think of a normal bell shaped curve the tail goes to infinity—i.e.—“the long tail.” That means that books can continue to be available and generate royalties long past the life of a legacy published book.  With ebooks there is no more “out of print!”


The long tail is an important factor in the creative destruction reshaping the books business and the traditional agent/publisher/distributor/retailer/library model.  The times they are changing!

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