The co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly and one of IBPA’s new board members, Jim Milliot offers both encouragement and a caution for independent publishers.
Technology means both challenges and opportunities for indie publishers, he recently noted. “With digital publishing and e-books now firmly established in the industry, it has never been easier to publish a book.” But that ease of entry means books from independent publishing houses are competing with lots of other books from the largest houses as well as with self-publishers’ books.
Milliot, who has decades of experience in book publishing, advises operating in a niche where books are distinguished by their quality. What’s also key is the ability to reach specific audiences. And, Milliot emphasizes, it’s vital to focus on marketing and sales. “Lay out objectives in your marketing and sales plan that are attainable, and then hit these.”
Meeting your sales and marketing goals may mean tackling tasks you dislike, he hinted, recalling an early career position. “I worked at a small newsletter publisher where we were expected not only to do the editorial material for the newsletters we published but also to help market them.” After any event he covered, the first question from his boss was often, ‘Do you have a list of the attendees?’
That led to an appreciation of the different factors that make a business succeed, Milliot says. “Even for the owner, no job was too small to get involved with.”
Now vice-president of PWxyz, which acquired PW from Reed in 2010, as well as PW’s co-editorial director, Milliot joined PW in 1993. Before that, he was executive editor at Simba Information, which publishes periodicals and market studies about various media segments, including trade and educational book publishing.
A graduate of Fordham University, he is a regular contributor to several industry publications, including Bowker’s Book Consumer Annual Review, and he is co-author (with Albert N. Greco and Robert Wharton) of The Book Publishing Industry: 3rd Edition (Routledge, 2013).