In simplified terms publishing is the art of selecting the right content for the accessible delivery medium. Sounds simple, but specialized skills are needed. Effective ways of finding content regularly, understanding of the contents’ worth to pick right and creating enticing distribution mechanisms are the key areas. Dissected this way it all sounds pretty straightforward and already today information technology can make it just that.
They say publishing has been democratized by the Internet. These claims are partially true as start-up costs for even for a video heavy web site are fairly low. Consequently low risk self-publishing has become a considerable option for a lot of people. Especially for the younger generation posting even light-hearted creations is becoming a way of life. Sometimes success in the web can lead to new opportunities in more traditional media channels, but to make it to the big leagues controlling the quality of initial publishings is necessary. Editorial process or choosing what to publish is still the key to success.
There is the temptation to think publishing in the Internet era is really just a game of numbers. You could think that more submissions you skim through more likely you are to succeed. Quick random web surfing session will prove this theory wrong. Internet makes all the content in the world accessible, even the bad one. To increase the dismal chances nurturing an existing source will prove beneficial. Finding the source before competitors is the key to success. Either you will have to be very specialized or you are going to need many sources.
Often supporting or submerging in the given sub-culture has been the weapon of choice. For many publishing professionals this is a heavy way of life. A common preconception is that a true appreciation of the given art is necessary. For some that even means producing the art by themselves. A more professional approach requires commissioning the work, but the risk of becoming blind to changes in demand as styles evolve is real. On the other hand keeping up the quality is imperative for publisher’s survival – be it company or community. Finding pieces of content that are well suited for your chosen publication is imperative. Editorial process as we know it may not exist, but the constraint remains.
Increasing the number of sources is the second strategy in balancing richness versus reach. Today talent competitions are a common method to attract submissions. Unfortunately going through number of submissions is a daunting task. A community based approach can work well as the members can push each other to better results. In addition it will be easy pick up the talented individuals. The danger is that the collective group mind tends produce very homogenic results. The edges are easily smoothed if no new blood enters the circulation continuously.
The new networked environment where publishing is no longer the bottleneck is a challenge to all the players in the value chain. The consumer having the power of choice is a tremendous opportunity for the fastest to adapt, buy it is good to remember that eventually things will smooth out as inverse mechanisms kick in. In the future knowing the next big will still be hard currency. Knowledge maybe shared in fast changing favorites lists by the individual consumers. Collecting and distributing this information will be a big business. Eventually brands become recognized through their excellent track records.
After all publishing is just like any other business. Numbers count. Studying the market can help if the correct parameters are chosen. Focus groups have been used to measure the expected demand beforehand, but consumer behavior is becoming harder to predict. For study purposes the subjects have to labeled, but naming genres is destructive for the art itself. The genre will start disintegrate right away and in the Internet the communication is faster. So there is really no shortcuts. Quality and value can only satisfy the customer with limitless choice.
Accessing the content is possible through multiple distribution channels. Packaging and brand are still dominant forces, but searches and other data mining can change this. There are other technical developments as well.
The most important for growth of niche markets is the emergence of global banking services. Handling money traffic is single most complicated thing to do for a self-publisher. The producer will need to trust not only the distributer, but also the customer. Technical means to protect the producers rights have been developed. Digital rights management (DRM) systems have gained notoriety. From producer point of view monetization requires global trust.
Technical means like authentication will help move the market forward. Trust is a two-way street. Content protection should really combine social, economic and legal approaches with technical solutions. Allowing fair-use is socially responsible thing to do. Pricing the content just right keeps the temptation to steal low. Documenting the fair proposition makes it possible to judge the bang for the buck. Being able to communicate these rules is really the basis for creating a seducing distribution channel.