Monday, August 16, 2010

Karp Reorganizes S&S

Two months ago, on June 14, Jonathan Karp took over the publishing reins at Simon & Schuster. I reported on the change here.

Karp left Twelve, his imprint at Hachette where he published about ten books a year, to take over an imprint that releases over 100 hardcovers annually.

The big question was how Karp, who had previously had a staff of four at Twelve, would manage S&S with its much larger staff and more complicated corporate structure.

Last Wednesday, Karp answered that question.

Publishers Lunch reported here:
... in early 2011 S&S will reorganize into "small teams of editors, publicists, and marketing specialists." Each team will comprise approximately two editors, two publicists and a marketing specialist. Karp writes that the teams "will propose, develop, and execute their own publicity and marketing plans, from the moment of acquisition through paperback publication, in consultation with associate publisher Aileen Boyle and me."
Publishers Weekly added here:
Victoria Meyer, executive director of publicity, will be leaving the company. Noting the changes ... Karp writes that “It became clear that we could not maintain the role of an executive director of publicity within this new structure.”
GalleyCat explained here that current "Director of publicity Tracey Guest will serve as the primary media contact for the imprint."

One of the most often-heard complaints of mid-list authors at the Big Six publishers is that the publicity department focuses most of its attention on those A-list authors at the top of the pecking order. This reorganization decentralizes both the publicists and the marketing specialists so that each book has its own team.

This new approach puts the editor who acquired (and hopefully loves) a book together with the people who will be promoting it. The team approach will also allow S&S to more directly tie a book's expenses to the revenue it generates. The P&L statement will be a team scorecard.

Back in June when Karp was named publisher, the Associated Press' Hillel Italie had quoted S&S's CEO Carolyn Reidy as saying: "Sometimes a change is just needed because the world has changed and a fresh approach might help reinvigorate an imprint ..."

S&S is in need of reinvigoration. In the first quarter of this year, its sales fell 6.2%.

I've been looking forward to the release of last book in The Hunger Games trilogy on 8/24. Back in March when I talked about the first two books in the series, I said:
The book's protagonist, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, lives ... in District 12, among the poorest of the dozen districts ... the Capitol holds an annual televised series of games to which each district must send one boy and one girl randomly selected by lot. The twenty-four "tributes" then fight to the death. The last tribute standing is declared the winner.
I'm marking my calendar for August, 2012. It will be interesting to see how many of the S&S teams are still standing two years after Karp's arrival.

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