What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
My company, Book in a Box, lives in the nonfiction world, so I’ll focus specifically on the biggest trend I see in nonfiction: focus. Historically, books needed to be broad enough to reach a wide audience. Publishers traditionally wanted to hit a home run, and books that were too specific to have a chance at major success usually never got out the door. However, with the growing number of books published each year, we’re starting to see a change. Books that focus specifically and deeply on addressing an issue that faces a smaller audience are becoming a viable bet. We are seeing books like David Kashmer’s The Hidden Curriculum, a guide to running a surgical career for new surgeons, or Melissa Gonzalez’s The Pop Up Paradigm, with its focus on retail businesses interested in pop-up shops, become increasingly common as the industry grows and moves more and more online.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
As a publisher that spans the range of nonfiction, there isn’t one specific book, genre, or topic we’re looking for. There is, however, a general rule that we tend to judge books by: are you solving a real problem for a real audience? Authors who are experts in their fields, who are commonly asked for advice, and who are able to use a book as a vehicle to help people tend to create books that we’re most excited about.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
We’re willing to consider books across multiple nonfiction categories, spanning from self-help to business to memoirs. There aren’t necessarily topics we avoid, so much as general problems. The most common of these problems, and the most common reason that we turn down books, is that they don’t serve the reader. The best authors write their books from the perspective of the reader and as an aid in helping readers accomplish their goals. The ones who struggle to find an audience, it seems, are the authors most focused on themselves. Note that this doesn’t mean we want to avoid memoirs or personal stories. These can be incredibly valuable. The point is that the book must be written in such a way as to serve the reader and provide real value, not just accomplish the author’s goals.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Almost all of the authors that we work with are first-time authors. They usually have other careers (often business owners, speakers, consultants, or the like) and have plenty of wisdom to share but are new to the publishing world. Our goal is to take all the pain out of that process. There are many pieces of being a first-time author that are difficult and challenging, and our mission as a company is to break down these barriers to allow people with great ideas to share to get their ideas out into the world.
Zach Obront is co-founder of Book in a Box, a publishing company that helps surround experts with the professional publishing team necessary to help them write, publish, and market their books. He is also the co-author of The Book in a Box Method, a step-by-step instruction manual on how to replicate this process. Zach lives in Austin, Texas.