learned through 40 years of publishing
At the Media
Club of Ottawa meeting of March 20, 2018, Tim
Gordon, publisher, Burnstown Publishing, illustrated, through numerous
examples, the ups and down of the publishing business.
He left the impression on the one hand, that
not for the faint of heart, but, on the other, that it has led to many
experience with an author who placed the
poem The Dash by Linda Ellis at the
back of a book without giving credit to the poet.
This case of plagiarism resulted
in the destruction of 1500 books and almost entangled the
publisher in a lawsuit;
book about brewing that sold well at point of
purchase in Ontario beer stores but the beer stores eventually lost
because many customers thought it was a freebie and walked off without
the author of Don’t Have A Cow
to a dowsing conference to help her promote her
book, but after attending a seminar where people made animal sounds,
learning that the author had plagiarized material for her book,
part of the publishing world is good and some of it is weird;
satisfying examples of how reaching out to the
right target market through specific channels can bring in excellent
as the $25 bicentennial book by the Federated Women’s
Institutes of Canada which
had an initial sale of 1700 copies by contacting its members through a
or, how the book Black Jack
riderless horse who walked behind President John F. Kennedy’s
funeral caisson was
of such interest to Arlington Cemetery that it commanded an initial run
how brilliant ideas can sometimes reap great
rewards, as in the phenomenal story of The
Gas Barbecue Cookbook. The
was inspired to approach companies selling gas barbecues and offer them
discounts for buying, in advance of publication, 1,000’s of
copies to give to customers
with purchase, so that the recipe book eventually sold 1.6 million
Gordon demonstrated how a publisher must be savvy to
succeed in the current environment.
publishing company used to focus on the broad base, consisting of the
public who were readers. They
after niche markets and use a direct sales approach.
As well, they have had to take off the
blinders and disassociate from mainstream chain bookstores, which take
the top, plus a brokerage fee.
Burnstown Publishing will package books for people,
using a royalty-based approach. They
co-publish with first-time authors who contribute seed money for
design, and help to publicize the books.
They have learned to be careful of big orders
because “they can come
back to bite you”.
conjunction with the author, they will first identify the
market and then do a small test run.
They use a formula that tells them how many
books they need to sell in
order to break even. This
way, it’s possible
to easily recoup expenses. So
print 100 books at a time as a limited edition printing. They might also pre-sell
books to small
pointed out that he still
deals with the brick and mortar independent stores and believes they
continue to survive if we all support them.