The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success

by Eric Kampmann and Margot Atwell

This book provides insights in to the steps, risks, and numerous decisions involved in publishing a book. There are chapters covering an overview of the publishing industry, the manuscript, production, sales and distribution, marketing and PR, rights, and finance. The final four chapters are short success stories.

“No book should be printed without the advice and assistance of a good editor.” The authors also emphasize the importance of cover copy. “Don’t let the design get in the way or presenting the sales points.”

What about physical dimensions? “Oversized or unusual trim size could force a title to be displayed outside of the category… There is already enough competition; don’t make consumers search for your book.”

Should the book be a hardcover or paperback? “Where will the book achieve most of its sales? What format is appropriate for that channel?” A small run of paperbacks can limit risk. “It is rarely economical to print fewer than a couple of thousand hardcover books in one print run.”

“The physical book market will decrease by 2% over the next five years while the ebook market will continue to grow.” The authors explain reflowable and fixed layout ebook formats.

“People often confuse wholesalers and book distributors… The book wholesaler should be seen as a service provider to bookstores, internet retailers, libraries, and other markets. They do not create demand; rather, they efficiently respond to demand… A good distributor will allow even the smallest publisher to play on a level playing field with the largest publishing houses, providing them full access to key buyers, data systems, and marketing programs.”

“The four most important questions to consider when planning the title’s marketing are variations on the questions the sales rep asks the editor and publisher, the book buyer asks the sales rep, and the TV producer asks the publicist. Who is the target audience for this book? How will that consumer find out about this book? How is this book different from every other title on the shelf? Who is the author, and why should the consumer pay attention to what the author has to say?”

Sales and marketing need to be on the same page. “If an author appearance on a major television show is scheduled, the [sales] reps should know as soon as it’s confirmed so that all the sales outlets will have enough books on hand. Marketing efforts are worthless if people are convinced to buy the book but the book is unavailable.”

The authors compare a publishing company to a baseball batter. “A few home runs pay for the missed swings.”

Co-author Eric Kampmann is CEO of a book distributor; he previously held sales and management positions at several large publishing houses. Co-author Margot Atwell has worked as a literary agent, book editor, and publisher.

Kampmann, Eric, and Margot Atwell. The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success. New York: Beaufort Books, 2013. Buy from

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