"Picking up Spin"
To help them get ahead in the game, independents are doing something referred to as "picking up spin." According to Nathan, independents aspire to having 80 percent to 100 percent of their titles strong enough to be able to go from front list to active backlist. "We want that book selling [for] two to 10 years, to have longevity," she says, "whereas major houses have the ability to put many titles into the hopper with just one or two hitting it big."
As a result, she says, independents chew over every manuscript in search of good material coupled with the author's ability to help the publisher move into another marketplace.
"We ask questions like, 'Can the author do television talk shows? Who does the author know … whom we can bring into the fold?' " says Nathan. "This is what we call the 'spin.' We look for books that can [lead to] other products and venues. Books that might even sell other products like T-shirts, hats, clubs, etc. To spin out more than the book element."
Success, for many, in this competitive market really comes down to trying some unorthodox ways to reach new markets.
Sharon Cole is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer serving the print industry.