"Mass-Market Books" in the Digital World
By Mick Spillane
How are mass-market books defined in the digital world? In the old world of publishing houses, what distinguished mass market was the quantity produced. But today, everyone and their grandma is publishing a book—ebooks, even if they are self-published, a vanity press, et cetera, are flooding the marketplace (or should I say Amazon?), changing the publishing world. Ebooks, though, are print-on-demand, as well; and being produced in mass quantities. But the mass-market books of yesterday, were the ones you would find at an airport bookstore or the local drug store. Of course, you still can ... But traveling with your iPad....
Today it is more important to be market savvy and with a great command of social media marketing. Do authors or the audience even care if the books are properly edited? Do these "independent publishers" even taken the time to create a house style guide? From my experience the answer is a resounding "No." It seems that what goes on the cover is crucial.
Yes, these books fall into categories, fulfilling a demand of a special segment of the public—labels are always important. The category is important to the market-savvy author in the digital age—it's akin to a brand name. Branding is everything these days. Nevertheless, being an editor today, one can edit sci-fi, romance, Westerns; you really do not have to specialize any longer. These genres are by no means inert.
But what makes a great editor in the digital world? A genuine appreciation for a particular genre is important. A sociable disposition helps. Common sense is even more of an in-demand skill when navigating the manuscripts of the ebook world. For me, as an editor, this means understanding the writer's intent and considering their words in the proper context. Using common sense, means understanding the type of book you are editing and its intended audience when making editorial decisions. At times it requires a light touch; other times a heavy hand is required. Moreover, in the digital world new genres are always popping up
What seems to matter to most with these digital books, is meeting that five-day deadline.