Bob Miller Shares Lessons from HarperStudio

By Jason Boog Comment

At the BookNet Canada Technology Forum conference in March, Workman Publishing group publisher Bob Miller delivered a lecture entitled, “Can This Business Be Saved? Experimenting With New Models for Trade Publishing.” In the video embedded above, you can watch the former publisher of HarperStudio ponder the lessons he learned at the recently shuttered imprint.

Miller opened the speech with a list of the Top Ten Ways You Can Calculate a Book Is Too Risky to Publish. On top of the list was a joke at the expense of books born on the Internet: “We don’t know what the book is yet, but the author has 12,000 friends on Facebook.” Blogger and HarperStudio author Choire Sicha disagreed in passionate essay on The Awl.

Here’s an excerpt: “Miller also claims that ‘small advances’ (that’s $100K and lower, and if you’re a fiction writer, you’re currently thinking “I’d kill someone for a $40K advance!) made the house unattractive to “track record” authors. This misses the point; a house like that is supposed to make writers, and can afford to gamble on books, not just buy the cache of authors outright as is done in the wrecked publishing star system. Bob totally misunderstands what he was doing, and how and why he was doing it, it sounds like?”