What Netflix Can Teach Publishers and Authors

Netflix has been on a roll. Originally considered something of a rube among Hollywood types, the individual responsible for its success has proven that new ways of thinking, and servicing viewer’s desires and needs before any other metric, is the path to success these days.

Netflix did everything “wrong,” according to film’s old guard. It released a full season of episodes all at the same time to allow for binge viewing (which subscribers wanted), it paid top dollar to lease items that others would have taken only if they could own (again to serve their subscribers regardless of the way others would have made a deal), and they bought new concepts without forcing the producers to make a pilot (taking a chance again to give viewers what they want).

Publishers could learn from all this. Release books faster (because that’s what readers want), allow authors to maintain ownership (serve readers no matter what the old deals looked like), and take chances on unproven concepts (because again, readers want unique, fresh ideas from authors who haven’t yet “proven” themselves with big publishers).

Authors, too, can learn from Netflix. Although the company is willing to take risks and try new things, the concepts they’ve bought have had a strong level of professionalism built in. Actors have been sought out who are clear viewer favorites to attract viewers to those fresh concepts. All the deals made have also been for concepts that have fully written scripts, professional people already on board, and “bibles” or dossiers that outline the fictional world’s details in full.

For authors, this means having a full and polished manuscript ready to go, professional assistance from editors or pitch consultants, and a fully developed idea about their audience, publishing trends, and the author’s potential or actual platform (which is all wrapped into a book proposal, the author’s bible).

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