Wednesday, October 18, 2006

5 Easy Steps to Publishing Nirvana

5 Easy Steps to Publishing Nirvana
By Robert M. Sacks

Let's get down to some serious business. Does anyone in their right mind think that writing, journalism or publishing is just going to fade away and disappear? Does anyone think that there isn't going to be the need to be informed, be knowledgeable, or just know stuff? Here is news for those in doubt of their careers and the continuance of the honest profession of being a publisher/printer. People have always had the need for information and will always require news, instructions, directions and knowledge.

The only difference now from yesterday or last year or last century is how they get to know what they know. The human race has always required and worked to improve information distribution. As far back as the caveman, they processed the information of the day, and transferred those ideas and thoughts to the walls of their homes and religious places. As society progressed, we improved the process.

The first tool for storing portable information outside of the brain is called, in today's terms, a baton. It carried thoughts and stored information on an inscribed stick to be carried about by a shaman. It stored the phases of the moon and other important astrologically dependent information, such as the best time to plant seeds. Planting seeds at the proper time is a good idea if you like to eat on a regular basis. Think of the baton as the first Flash memory JumpDrive.

We have been drawing on walls, carving on rocks, inking on papyrus, and cloistering men in monasteries who repeatedly copied information ad infinitum with mistakes and all.

So have no fear about your chosen profession. The process of information distribution is not going to go away. Indeed, it is accelerating at an unprecedented rate.

What you need to consider is the true value of your information to the general public and the process by which you distribute this knowledge.

Five easy steps to publishing nirvana:

1 Who is my target audience?

2 Where is my targeted audience?

3 What is the real value of my edit (information) to that audience?

4 What is the most efficient method to reach the maximum targeted audience?

5 How do I keep my information valuable and fresh for my targeted audience?

These may seem like simple concepts on the surface, but they are not. They constitute a complex, Zen-like formula. Success is measured by the antique term called profit. And to achieve the Zen-like state of profit, you must follow the Bo-formula to publishing nirvana (in the box above). On the atomic level, it can all be distilled down to the simple equation of RV = RP or, for the laymen, real value equals real profit.

In this era of abundant information, is your edit of any real value? If so, how valuable is it? If it is valuable, to whom is it valuable? This is where the concept of niche comes into play. The value of when to plant seeds is only valuable to a select few. And to those few, only information on certain types of seeds would be of value.

In today's publishing world there are three key components: the jewels of extremely valuable edit, the readers who need and desire those gems, and the ability to get the booty into the clients' hands by the most efficient means possible. In my experience great edit trumps the other two. To paraphrase loosely, if you have the appropriately precious edit, they will come.

The last necessary element to the so-stated condition of publishing nirvana is the honest and sometimes brutal truth. This can be the hardest part of the Bo-formula. Like an alchemist of old lore, here is a Bo-exercise for you to try. Find a hand-held mirror and hold it up about 18 inches from your face. Look into the mirror and ask yourself the five questions listed to the left. Did you flinch? Did you grimace? Did you honestly know all the answers? Did you divine the truth? Only you know that for sure.

Bob Sacks is a consultant to the printing/publishing industry and president of The Precision Media Group ( He is publisher and editor of a daily, international e-newsletter, "Heard on the Web." Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, cameraman and corporate janitor.