It’s not really news that I recommend Thomas Woll’s Publishing for Profit. The book was one of the first I purchased in the fall of 2012 when I started at Rosemont College’s graduate publishing program, and my copy is one of the most-referenced books I own.
In fact, I reference Publishing for Profit so frequently that it’s also my number one most recommended title for new students at Rosemont. When a new student asked me this fall what books I think she should read as she starts the program, I told her to get a copy of Publishing for Profit and keep it near her desk, because I’ve used it almost every single semester of graduate school.
The class I used it for most often, though it wasn’t required reading for the course, was a class I took called Maintaining & Operating a Small Press. The course has since changed, and it’s taught by a different professor now, but at the time, the main project in the course was to create a (fake) small press, manage the titles the press would publish, and create a business plan to project how the press would run.
Publishing for Profit offers incredible advice for nearly all aspects of running a publishing company. My endgame as a publishing graduate student has always been to either found or work at a small press, so not only did the course help me gain the skills I’d been looking for, but so did Publishing for Profit.
The book is definitely for the business-minded end of publishing and not the editorial side. (There are tons of books on writing and editing that can help with that.) The 2010 edition, the red cover pictured above, does a fantastic job outlining different components necessary to publishing as a company and as a business. One chapter that especially speaks to me is “Make Planning Primary,” which emphasizes the importance of setting goals, planning cash flow, and other aspects.
One thing I’d always found disappointing, though, was the book’s lack of attention to the digital aspect of the publishing industry. Publishers say digital publishing accounts for 3-10% of their overall sales, yet my original reading of Publishing for Profit hardly addressed digital publishing at all except as a subsidiary right available for publishers to sell.
I immediately had a minor freak-out. (I won’t lie.) While my capstone project isn’t directly about book publishing — it’s actually about Girls in Capes — I knew that the new edition would be incredibly helpful in my last courses at Rosemont as well as to my professional development as a whole. So I called up my local independent store and ordered a copy (plus another for a friend, because why keep such a good thing to myself?).
Today, I finished the book, and I can safely say I would continue to recommend this book to students starting at Rosemont College’s grad publishing program as well as anyone who’s interested in running a small press.
The new edition has an entire section on digital publishing and marketing as well as an updated frame for publishers to design and create a Title Profit & Loss statement that includes eBook sales. This was the most concerning part for me personally, as that will directly impact my work with Oktopus Ink. The change in Title P&L sheets will also be helpful for publishing graduate studies, as it lays out exactly how to calculate profit and loss.
Overall, I’d give the 2014 (Fifth) edition of Publishing for Profit 5 out of 5 stars, and it will remain my number one recommendation to new students at Rosemont’s graduate publishing program.