Ten More Commandments, Publishing Edition
The following post is a collaboration with my friend Joe Esposito, the CEO of GiantChair. The post was Joe’s idea, but I contributed enough to its completion to justify a claim of shared authorship. Joe has kindly agreed to allow this received wisdom to be delivered to the world through The Shatzkin Files.
As thunder roared above the mountaintop, God sat on a throne of light. She stroked her braid and contemplated her new shoes.
“Who goes there?” God shouted.
“It is but a poor publisher,” the tiny figure said. “I have come for guidance in the treacherous ways of publishing in the digital age. I have oodles of Googles, but no money in my pocket. What dost thou command?”
“A poor publisher, eh?” God snorted, shaking the trees around them. “That’s what the angels call a redundancy.”
“Oh, please, Lord. Help me navigate the shoals of the noble Barnes and the forest where dwell the Amazons. Take me beyond my borders to a realm of growth and economic success. My very soul depends on my making buckets of money.”
God looked at the puny publisher and took pity on him.
“Do as I say,” God thundered, “and you will save your heavenly soul and a place for yourself in the value chain.” She thus proceeded to lay down these precepts–but as God is timeless, they came in no particular order.
1. Thou shalt regard thy former competitor as thy future collaborator.
2. Thou shalt let no intermediary stop you from knowing your customer, nor stop your customer from knowing you.
3. Thou shalt publish no book intended for an audience outside your spheres of direct influence.
4. Thou shalt read Dr. Faustus in all its editions–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Google–and know that Mephistopheles always appears first as a helpmate.
5. Thou shalt not forsake thine own brand.
6. Thou shalt create new brands and master the power and importance of brands.
7. Thou shalt respect and value thy communities with the same devotion thou hath always given to copyrights.
8. Thou shalt recognize that metadata is everywhere and associating it meaningfully is thy job.
9. Thou shalt not fail to test a new marketing channel in order to protect an old one.
10. Thou shalt deliver thy content in every imaginable form that thy customers request or might require.