Do you know how many books were published in the world in 2019? 1,668,333! A huge number for the current publishing scene, a market that is saturated with new releases and titles that make readers more disoriented. In fact, the average life of a book on the market is just 90 days. After that, 70% of the titles are no longer considered "a novelty” thus losing space and appeal in a market whose constant launch of new titles is its supposed strength (wrong!).
This is because quantity does not always coincide with the quality of editorial products. Quality is a very complex concept, also in publishing. When it comes to books, the concept of quality is based on two aspects: the content and the content container. The contents are the stories and words; the container is the form we give to those contents, such as the physical book, or the ebook file. The quality of a book should therefore be defined by the perfect encounter between these two aspects. This is because a book, either on paper or in digital form, is a combined flow of words arranged on the page, following a project and coming from an idea that can develop while meeting formal, stylistic, and aesthetic rules defined and commonly accepted.
Obvious considerations? Unfortunately not. In recent years, a certain way of publishing books has taken more and more space. Many, amongst which are publishers and indie authors, seem to have abandoned the search for quality, focusing everything on quantity, and ending up offering books that are not well finished neither in the selection of content nor in the look or the readability.
In most cases, the quality of published works is affected by the lack of accuracy in the production stage (we will talk about it soon); the haste to see the titles in the bookshops; the excessive focus on the sale and promotional phase of the book, which should be the last stage of the publishing journey.
And yet, a careful analysis of recent market data and trends should suggest exactly the opposite: putting aside approximation and frenzy and focusing on the quality of the stories is the only way to stand out in this immense crowd of new titles.
To achieve this we need to stop listening to the White Rabbit and his constant "soon it’ll be too late!" and devote the right time and attention to the various stages of publication. A book is not just writing and publishing. A book is also a production, marked by various stages at different levels of skills that must be faced to transform a manuscript into a book or ebook and bring it, successfully, to the homes of readers.
It is during the various stages of production that the quality of the content and the structure of the container are defined. The necessary stages for every editorial product are: the revision of the text with editing and proofreading; graphic design including the layout and the creation of the cover; the conversion to digital; and finally, publication, distribution, and promotion.
Production is not something you do overnight, it takes commitment. This is because quality requires appropriate time, means, and tools. If done right, learning to manage the desire and haste to publish will allow us to give the right shape to our content, so that we can reach readers without huge delays.
Final note: with the sales charts, 2019 also brought with it the return of the quality charts. Did you notice that? Was it just by chance?