Central Avenue is 4 Years Old: What’s Next?

Central AvenueMay 1, 2009 marks the day that Central Avenue Publishing stuck their toe in the publishing waters. Well, at that time, we were called ireadiwrite Publishing. Boy, have we EVER changed! Butwe’ve grown, matured and are evolving into the kind of business of which I am truly proud.

As we move into our fifth year of being in business, I can say that I am proud of the exact same things as I was one year ago: fantastic people and great books. I look back on that post I wrote a year ago, and I was feeling a bit sure of myself, wasn’t I? Moving forward, there are times when I feel absolutely wonderful about what’s happening and other times that I am so unsure of what to do next that it scares me, (although just a little).

The thing that I’m most unsure of is whether or not to pursue getting listings in bricks and mortar book stores. While ebooks are our bread and butter, paper books hold the lion’s share of market and it seems to be this holy grail to which I am reaching: the presence of our books in your local bookstore.

But is this goal worth the effort? By all accounts, paper is declining and ebooks are growing, but it seems as though we can say “We’ve made it!” when our books are in a local store. The past year has seen me send out too many queries to have our books picked up, only to be met with 100% rejection. Is it a case of our books not being good enough? Or the fact that they’re operating in a zero growth market and anything they take on has to be a sure-fire best seller?

Then, when I actually look at the costs of printing, warehousing and shipping print books, I think, “Why would I bother?” It’s a fact that profits from ebook sales are keeping publishers afloat – so why would I want to venture into the troubled waters of dead tree books? Call it ego, perhaps.

I do know that I won’t go down any road that leads me down a path to financial trouble. I have built a business that is thriving and that has provided a home for so many great books and people. So, if the right deal comes along that will only add to our success, then great. But I refuse to make the same mistakes that I’ve seen so many other publishing houses make – by following a model that cannot support them. Let’s face it, the current publishing and book distribution model isn’t holding up all that well in the 21st century. In fact, it appears that book sales are down all over the world.

What I love about CAP is that we change with the market – we produce books that traditional publishers wouldn’t pick up because they thought they were too risky. And it’s worked to our advantage. We release some books as digital only and keep our costs down. Funnily enough, our authors make most of their money from digital sales – not from their print counterparts. So I don’t want to wreck the momentum we’ve got by following the big guys in a declining market. Sure, they’re big for a reason – they do stuff well. But I don’t have the capital to back up the risk of following some great people and companies into the traditional paper book distribution world.

For us, I see the next year holding some pretty exciting things. I’ll still search for the right method of print distribution. I’ll produce some books that are fun, touching and successful. I’ll continue to connect with great people in the publishing world. I’ll continue to work with Meg Tobin-O’Drowsky as she manages our Everheart Books imprint for as long as she’ll have me. I’ll set a pace of book releases so that I don’t work TOO hard, (like I usually do). And I’ll continue to learn and try to understand this very old but also very new industry.

Thank you to all of you who have come along for the ride so far – if you’ll stick with me, I’m sure we’ll find some even better things down the road.

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4 thoughts on “Central Avenue is 4 Years Old: What’s Next?

  1. Darlene

    I am so happy to have been along for this exciting ride. I’m proud to be a Central Avenue Publishing writer and to be amoung such talented authors!! Thank you Michelle for all your hard work and professionalism.

  2. Molly

    Michelle, of the publishing-industry people I know, you’ve proven to be one of the very best at learning, adapting, and improving, without losing your approachability or professionalism. I trust you and am delighted to be along for the ride.

    I’m still surprised at how fast ebook sales have overtaken print sales, but I’m happy it’s taken place. An ebook can go into worldwide availability at the touch of a button, while print is…more complicated, shall we say. 🙂 Still, we all like to hold a print book sometimes, so I think POD is a smart option going forward. Makes more sense than the old-school method that involves, what, ripping covers off the ones that don’t sell and shipping them back, or something? (Talk about baffling procedures.)

    Happy 4th, Central Ave!

  3. Lisette Brodey

    Congratulations, Michelle:

    It is absolutely amazing to see how far you’ve come in four years, quickly evolving and adapting to the publishing culture.

    Wishing you much continued success, always.

    LIsette

  4. William Topek

    This really resonated with me, Michelle, particularly the dichotomy of print publishing (its inherent, multi-level appeal versus its prohibitive cost and…growing obsolescence?). Still, I’m glad the old-fashioned part of you is still trying.

    Congratulations on the four-year mark, and I’m proud to have been with you for well over half that time. Your ethics and idealism aren’t likely to make you rich quickly, but the fact that you have achieved this level of success despite those qualities is a great tribute to your business instincts and marketing savvy.

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