The seventh version of the TOC (Tools of Change for Publishing) ended in New York; it certainly achieved the goal of Connect, Explore and Create the future of publishing. The variety of approaches, experiences and issues was so extensive that on more than one occasion it was difficult to choose which conference to attend among seven simultaneous possibilities, one main idea was connected all the time with what I saw and heard amid the welter of options, tools and possibilities that any person interested, expert or non-expert, has the task of producing a book (in its broadest sense, from creation to sale): be a publisher today.

(Spanish version)

I should mention that the share of attendees from Spain and Latin America was not considerable, according to my calculations, about 10 people, at an event with about 1,000 participants, according to organizers. Just as I was surprised once again by the pragmatic sense of the audience (young and not so young) and the opening of the American mind to new environments and possibilities of editing, which could shock with the way how we develop the task of “editing” today.

In some of the sessions I was talking to one of the attendees at the TOC about a recognized publisher who did not participate in this event, my interlocutor said “this person is very pro-editor”. Pro-editor? What did he mean by that? What is the sense of edition for the person with whom I was speaking, the one of an against-editor? The last day, when I was talking to a local participant about the negative perception of the use of DRM (Digital Rights Management) presented in most of the event, I was told: “It depends from where you’re looking: if you attend to Digital Book World you will see an approach more pro DRM, but here you definitely see another approach, anti DRM “).

From the definitions of editor, editing and publishing, by RAE, you can find from the most helpful definitions, referring to “the action of publishing, paying, multiplying and spreading …”, to others involving more consideration and knowledge such as: “adaptation of contents, responsibility for contents, or putting on the author’s shoes, organization, making visible, revealing, making clear, in conformity with the laws sign the numbers of the newspapers …”. And the sense of editing, it is not the first, nor the second, is both, well-managed.

An editor today (our pro-editor):

  1. Publishes works in all formats (how many do still publish only on paper?).
  2. Pays (or manages) royalties under copyright, contributes to intellectual production incentive, with actions supports the publishing industry and qualifies the professional profile of its members.
  3. Multiplies, because what a publisher wants is that the work that he/she promotes is known/read by many (the publisher knows how to do that, knowing the limitations and possibilities of the traditional distribution, the technological tools that promote the e-distribution, the print-on demand options, the variety of electronic formats, DRM or no DRM policies, licensing and business models including Creative Commons, which is a form of copyright, on which this article is licensed).
  4. Spreads, promotes the author, putting the author in the proper place, validating the possibilities with the channel, using social networks and all the marketing and social media tools, making use of the resources, creativity and intellect in order to make the author reach the target niches or publics.
  5. Adapts, hand in hand with the author, suggests, organizes, proposes … gives light to get a work of quality that may be part of an imprint, a collection, recognized and valued by the public.
  6. Takes responsibility for the contents, because he has done well, because there is an evaluation committee or the work had pairs that guided its development (here we have so much to learn from the university edition). Because there is “someone” behind the work, not a machine or an automated production system (remember: for a few dollars you can print your work in a short run, for another few dollars you can have it in ePub and put it in distribution channels and for more dollars, someone will write for you).
  7. Puts himself on the author’s shoes, making the imprint a constituent part of the production and so the author can say “I want my work to be edited by this editor, I want my work to become part of this collection or this imprint”. That’s the big difference between the long-tail and the wide diversity of content available with one click, and also what could be achieved with a click, but with quality.
  8. Organizes, not only at the level of guidance as to the content of a work is concerned, but the editorial process in its broadest sense, in the same sense as far as the book value chain (from the author to the reader)
  9. Makes visible, because a publisher does not print, a book editor does not make books so they are kept on a shelf, an editor “makes them visible” and does give evidence of something that has value and should be known by others.
  10. Reveals and demonstrates, because an editor contributes to the generation of knowledge, the development of new ideas, new ways and means to write, of telling stories.
  11. Signs, because that work is part of its editorial and that may mean much or little, whether it is a large or small publisher, transnational or new venture editorial (all entrepreneurs are welcome. Do not forget, according to the CERLALC, 92% of Latin American publishers publish fewer than 50 titles a year and 54% publish less than 10). Here I would like to emphasize the study of the Spanish colleague Javier Celaya exhibited in the TOC about how collaborate with startups, improving relations between companies of the book world and these ventures.

From all the above, the proposal is to take aim to “BE PRO-EDITOR ‘fulfilling these 11 conditions. The task is not easy, therefore is necessary to get training and continue learning more, even today, about the profession and its possibilities, achieving that modern look, promoting content generation (works) in all possible formats, well distributed, optimally promoted and suitable for each individual case.

The TOC was interesting because it helped to deepen this vision and learn about various approaches and new tools. I could do an extensive recap of the conferences that I attended but I would prefer to briefly end with some loose ideas, which may be useful:

  • Editor don’t be afraid. Today, anyone can make a book, today anyone will touch the door of your author and will offer all the available and not available tools. Many will dazzle, over 90% of authors will think that this is the road to success, fame and probably money. Those are siren calls, and the key difference will be in the knowledge of your profession, in how you are connected with the world today and how you can use in the best way the tools and models, with comprehensive and advanced vision.
  • Yes, for the first time in the TOC there was a whole day dedicated to the author revolution. The auditorium was full of interesting ideas. Things to learn and statements to refine. “Sell your book like wildfire a book printed with a very suggestive title that might give you some interesting light to publishers who want to strengthen the marketing (also available in e-book). Social Twist, a platform full of ideas and tools in the complex world of Social Media (I call it complex because marketing with social media goes far beyond the tweet, the post or the reference.)
  • The transmutation of the book chain and its authors, a constant. Literary agents with today possibilities can learn new and interesting roles. The entrepreneurs authors could do much and well done (there is a possibility with success stories, but this is not a rule, as neither can be to continue editing in the past). The difference, in any case, always will be the ” added value” that only someone can give, in the right manner and at the right time, in the framework of a work plan, coherent and strategic. Who? The editor.
  • Transmedia, a possibility increasingly necessary in the publishing world (for Mr Tim O’Reilly one the reasons for optimism).
  • Internet, the future. Consider what changes, devices and modes of access to content we’ve had during the last four years (only four). What will come in the next five or 10 years?
  • Inkling, interesting business model, which offers more than the platform ibooks Author`s Apple or others on the market. From one year to the next I have seen changes in its business model and what it can do. It can become a very important player, if this company is not acquired before by one of the strong technological players in the market.
  • Speaking of acquisitions and moves in the industry, I would like to highlight as independent and experts on specific topics, with isolated enterprises, today they are part of the most strong companies and with promising projection (as is the case of expert Joshua Tallent, eBooks Architects, he visited Colombia last year, acquired by Firebrand Technologies).
  • Bind and unbound, has been a very strong concept of traditional publishing. For some time it has been discussed the Unbound, single sheets, micro-narratives, interaction, transmedia…
  • ePub 3.0, we should continue looking and walking over there (we will have to resolve the issue of DRM and probably the same industry will enable a wide range of devices to read eBooks in this format).
  •, an interesting initiative from the academic edition. My perception might be different if Richard Price, CEO and founder, was not Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. Several things were said in that auditorium that could make some of the attendees tore their garments. What is important? The citation, referencing (visibility), especially in academic publishing, but using the Internet, as it does It was understood by what Price said when referring to the disappearance of academic journals, as they represent a very small part of the reputation of the researchers, added to the costs of traditional publishing.
  • New business models (in all types of editing, including academic) may be supported in the traditional ones, but also in FREE, FREEMIUM and PREMIUM. I think the point is to find the right mix for each particular case and initiative.

Let’s finish: the publishing world today is more alive than ever and, fortunately, there are many things we still have to do and learn, considering that triad that once I heard from Lucia Fournier, a dear Spanish colleague: TEST + EXPERIENCE + LEARN.


My special thanks to the Colombian Book Chamber and their initiatives from its Board of Directors and from the Technology Committee in recent years. Thanks to Sandra Rugeles, colleague and friend that helped me to the English translation.

Jaime Iván Hurtado

© This article is published under license by Creative Commons. Acknowledgment (by)





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