Jerry D. Simmons, Author, Publisher, Speaker, is a 25-year veteran of New York publishing with Random House and the former Time Warner Book Group, retired as VP, Director Field Sales. Over the years he has worked on books written by such bestselling authors as:
He has also worked on such multi-million copy bestselling titles as:
The Bridges of Madison County
The Celestine Prophecy
The Lion King
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Along Came A Spider
Jerry’s sales division generated hundreds of millions of dollars in book sales across the United States and Canada.
He is the founder of HYPERLINK "http://www.WritersReaders.com" www.WritersReaders.com which offers free articles on marketing and publishing. His newsletter TIPS for WRITERS from the PUBLISHING INSIDER is read by writers in over 24 foreign countries. He also launched the free marketing platform HYPERLINK "http://www.NothingBinding.com" www.NothingBinding.com which introduces emerging writers to a global audience.
His book, WHAT WRITERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PUBLISHING is described by the #1 New York Times Bestselling author Sandra Brown as “The good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of book publishing, told in a straight-from-the hip manner. New writers take note.”
Jerry speaks around the country and his articles have appeared in Writers Digest and across the web. He spends his time writing, teaching, and speaking with writers about the importance of understanding the marketplace for selling books. His focus is to help writers become successfully published authors by educating them about the business of publishing and sharing the secrets of the largest booksellers and publishers in the world.
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- Your newsletter has changed my life and a lot of others', I'm sure. Back when I was struggling to find my niche as a writer, having your newsletter in my inbox made all the difference. How did your newsletter come about?
That is a very nice thing to say and I’m grateful for your wonderful comment. The newsletter was born out of a need that I saw once I left New York and began working with writers who were trying to understand the business and how to succeed. It’s a real labor of love and I try to keep it different by offering the latest topics from the world of book publishing along with commentary and a brief explanation of what it all means to them as individual writers and authors. It’s grown tremendously and at the present time I have readers in over 24 foreign countries.
- How does a young man go from Sales Representative for Random House to Warner Communications for 23 years to campaigning on behalf of new and unpublished writers everywhere? Was that planned or did fate intervene?
Fate brought me to this point, I retired and took a couple of years off to write my book, then one day was asked to speak to a writers conference which lead to more speaking engagements and eventually the web site and newsletter. I’d like to say this was all planned but it wasn’t, I’ve been drawn to this point with my focus to provide truthful information about the business and how writers can become successful authors. My biggest thrill is helping those who are having trouble with maneuvering the industry and trying to make good publishing decisions.
- You actually worked on titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Lion King? What a contrast. How did your experience differ?
The market for each title is different, obviously, the key is to position a title appropriately in the market. For example, it’s vitally important to create a niche within each category for every single book. It’s best when an author does the research on their own rather than let the publisher handle that, however it varies. Publishers promote books in what we called “an inch deep and mile wide” meaning we published to every category. The key to selling titles is finding that special niche that is “an inch wide and mile deep” which means finding that exact spot where the title has the best chance of reaching an audience and selling copies. There are plenty of business books but the importance is to distinguish your book within the business category. That is the key to successful book selling. To be successful you need a keen eye for titles and the ability to distinguish between the competition.
- Could you explain what Nothing Binding does and how it came about?
Nothing Binding was initially intended to be a social networking site for writers, authors and publishers. This again came from author requests during several writers conferences where I was being asked to provide a platform where information could be shared. It hasn’t quite worked out that way I intended since it has turned into a site where editors and agents browse for the latest entries and search for potential products for their list. It’s free and I’d love to see more writers and authors create profiles, you just never know who is going to be browsing and who might read your writing.
- What do you think is the greatest challenge facing writers today: young and experienced?
Making good choices on how to market and publish their manuscripts. Good decisions are spawned from information and the more a writer understands the business the more successful they will become. Success is defined in many ways and it’s not about becoming a celebrity or bestselling author, it’s about finding an audience for your writing, learning how to expand that readership, and sell more copies with each successive book. Do that and you will be considered a gold mine for publishers.
- Jerry, what do you think is the best thing to happen for today's writers?
The future lies in the upcoming trend toward digital book sales. That doesn’t mean print books will go away, it means that finally there will be another delivery system for content. Digital will offer many more ways to reach an audience and it will become less and less important how you publish and who you publish with. The key in the future will be the quality of the writing and ability to market effectively to your audience.
- Do you think there's any truth to the Internet being our generations' oxymoron? The Internet is the best thing to happen for authors since the book was invented. Successful authors are ones that have learned how to create a space for their writing where it can be viewed by millions of readers. I believe the best is yet to come and there are no real secrets to success, it’s timing, creative marketing and an unwillingness to give up.
- You've face the ugly part of book publishing for more years than I can imagine, yet you don't seem to have lost your excitement for it. How do you keep the faith? Is there enough good coming out of the industry to balance the bad?
I have a real love for books and writers and a passion for teaching others how to make good decisions. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping writers understand the business of publishing. It’s fun, I love reading new manuscripts and still get a thrill out of seeing the final published book. It gets in your blood and frankly, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
- To name a few, what are three things writers need to know about Publishing?
(1) You have to follow your heart and dreams, there is no substitute. (2) The more information you have the better decisions you will make and that will save time and money. (3) Rejection is part of the business, you must learn to be patient and never, ever give up. Timing plays a big role and you need to keep trying so eventually the timing will be on your side.
- Jerry, thanks for the interview, I know how precious your time must be. In closing, if you had only one minute of breath left to say something about publishing, what would you say?
Every writer has a unique ability to tell a story. Based on their own personal experiences, educations, environment and development. There is an audience for everyone, the trick is finding it. If you are passionate about writing then write! Content is king!
Sandra Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author, says, “New Writers take note. Told in a straight-from-the-hip manner. Simmons speaks from years of experience, as well as with a genuine caring for the would-be-published writer.”