Media Connect Q&A With Rob Kirkpatrick (My Editor)

Rob Kirkpatrick.

My editor, Rob Kirkpatrick of Thomas Dunne Books (a part of St. Martin’s Press), was interviewed by MEDIA CONNECT in November. It was interesting to read his thoughts on being an editor and the publishing industry.

Following are a couple of takeaways from that Q&A.

MC: As an acquiring editor do you look at the author’s work or platform first?
RK: Absolutely, especially as I acquire primarily nonfiction. I remember a proposal I received several years ago for a book from an author whose most recent book had sold quite modestly. I would have needed a way to position the author and his next book more effectively. The proposal neglected to mention what the author did for a living, so I inquired. The agent, an experienced one, asked me, “Why do you need to know?” That response floored me and still does. An author’s profession and platform are always relevant when trying to plan how to publish his or her book.

MC: What advice do you have for young writers today?
RK: Write because you are passionate about something and feel you have a compelling story to tell and a unique voice with which to tell it. That is all. If you want to become a writer because you think it sounds glamorous or because you’ve heard about the millions of copies this or that bestselling authors has sold, you will most likely be disappointed.

Rob is a great editor. He is low key and encouraging, two attributes that are beneficial to any writer tasked with birthing and promoting a book. I was extremely fortunate he acquired and edited my first book, as well as my second book.


Trends in Self-Publishing

I have written two books. THE LONGEST SHOT came out in 2012. My next book is going through the publishing cycle and will be released in September 2014.

Neither of my books is self-published (both are with Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, which is owned by Macmillan), but I expect there is a self-published book in my future. I think it could be an interesting venture.

While away in Indiana on Thanksgiving vacation, I read a USA TODAY story about the rapid rise of self-publishing. (I love getting the free newspaper at the hotels.)

Here are a few takeaways:

  • “The number of books being self-published in the U.S. ballooned to 391,000 titles in 2012, according to Bowker, an industry research group–an increase of nearly 60% from the previous year.”
  • “According to Smashwords, which distributes many self-published authors and titles to some of the most popular e-book sites … the best-selling 1% of titles net half the sales.”
  • “‘On average, authors spend between $1,000 and $2,000 to get their books into the marketplace,’ says Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing at Author Solutions.”

Obviously, few self-published authors are making big money. Authors such as Amanda Hocking and Bella Andre, both featured in the article, are among the 1%.

Many others are like Portland, Maine, author Katie Lippa. Lippa has invested $700 in editorial services and made around $1,600 in book sales.

But money isn’t the sole reason people are compelled to write and publish a book. In fact, money is fourth on a list of reasons, according to Writer’s Digest as cited in the article.

What are the top two reasons?

To build a writing career and “to satisfy a lifelong ambition.”

I can relate to both.