It was a different world when Steve Berry first started publishing his novels 13 years ago.
Since then, the St. Marys resident and New York Times bestselling author has learned a lot. The biggest business lesson: Everything changes.
“When I first started, you had hard covers and paperbacks. That was it. There were two formats for books. And books were sold in book stores. If you wanted a book, you’d go to a bookstore and buy it,” he said.
“There were about three independent stores in Brunswick and you could go to a bigger city to go to Barnes and Noble or something like that.”
A big shift came to the business when the e-book came on the scene around 2008. Berry defines it as a revolution, which altered the entire publishing landscape.
“The e-book is here to stay and it really fundamentally changed things. That, combined with the rise of Amazon as an online distributor, it really changed publishing completely,” he said.
And that change, Berry feels, will continue to be part of an author’s reality going forward.
The writer is preparing to release “The Fourteenth Colony” in April, and he has put the finishing touches on one book that will be released in 2017.
“You work a year in advance. You are one year ahead of yourself. After my book tour, I’m going to start on the 2018 novel,” he said.
“Writing is a full time job — 8 to 10 hours a day. It certainly is a business.”
The one thing he feels best serves a writer in that business — flexibility.
“The publishing rules change every day. What we did for the last book will not be done for this book,” he said. “The industry is changing constantly. The greatest challenge is just to keep up.”
Pamela Mueller has learned those same lessons throughout her publishing career. The Jekyll Island resident’s first book was released in 1999, “The Bumpedy Road,” a children’s story told by her cat, Kiska.
“It was a tribute to my daughters and I thought it would be the only book I would write, so my husband and I learned how to publish it as independent publishers and only printed 500 copies through a contracted printing company,” she said.
“After less than six months, they were all gone and so we ordered 2,000 more. Then I wrote the second and later third cat book, and by then, I knew I’d be an author. “
And she certainly is — Mueller just finished her 11th title, “The Dancing Delilahs.” And she continued with her self-publication throughout her writing.
“All have been published by our own small press, Piñata Publishing. We contract everything out, from bookmaker to editor to printer and even my proofreaders,” she said.
“We own all rights to our books, so we are both publisher and author. My husband runs the company while I write and later we market the books together. This process works very well for us.”
Of course, the couple still has challenges. There’s generating inventory and making deadlines, among other daily tasks.
“The challenges are like all businesses: do we have enough books on hand, will the newly ordered ones arrive in a timely manner, and will we be pleased with the final products? So far, we’ve been happy with the results,” Mueller said.
“Planning book tours is also challenging, as we need the venues to be available during the time we’ll be in each city. Washington, D.C., is amazing with so many historical museums interested in showcasing my books.”