One of the theories I’ve seen espoused about recessions is that they are really about a massive reordering of the economy. Lingering inefficiencies suddenly become glaring and are trimmed, weak companies fail, the work force reorders itself, and the strong companies either extend their dominance or retrench. The economy reemerges more efficient and ready for more growth.
The publishing industry has had to weather this storm along with the rest of the economy, and while the industry endured its share of tumult and layoffs, contrary to popular belief it is actually holding up reasonably well, especially when compared to the retail sector as a whole. Sales were off 2.5% for the year as of July, compared to a 9.5% drop in broader retail.
But even along with all of the economic pressures, the industry right now is facing a looming restructuring as e-books become more and more a part of the landscape. And as e-books become more and more common publishers will increasingly see their raison d’etre challenged by digital and self-publishing.
For the last hundred years the publishing industry has been built around one key advantage that no one else could match: distribution. Sure, publishers designed the cover and edited the pages and marketed the books. But the real secret to the dominance of the mainstream publishers, as anyone who self-published knows, was utilizing both their brand and their nuts and bolts distribution to get the books into the stores. Without traditional publishers: good luck. Publishers were the sole gatekeepers.
That’s all beginning to change with the Internet and online booksellers, and will change even more if/when e-books become the primary source of book revenue for an author.
Right now, with e-books hovering somewhere around 5% of sales, authors still need publishers. Even the self-publishing success stories almost always involve self-published authors finding their way to traditional publishers. Why? Someone’s got to get the books into the stores, and publishers are the best at it.
But what about in the future if e-books become 50% or more of an author’s sales?
You don’t need infrastructure to distribute e-books: you just need an Internet connection. An unknown, unpublished Author of the Future could do deals with the Amazons and B&Ns and Sonys of the world (or possible a single e-book distributor) and simply upload their book from Wasilla and voila, the book will be instantaneously available just as readily as the new book by Dan Brown of the Future. No warehouses, no catalogs, no print runs. Online vendors, as we’ve seen, will sell anything.
So, in this scenario, does the Author of the Future, especially one with a built-in audience, really need a publisher?
Well… yes. Maybe.
That’s because there are a whole lot of tasks that Author of the Future may not care to deal with, such as editing and copyediting, designing the cover, dealing with all of the zillions of different e-book vendors and their preferred file types, and, of course, marketing. Surely there will also be Co-op of the Future to reckon with – front page placement on an e-book store, for instance.
But most importantly, for the first time basically ever, Author of the Future is going to have a choice: work with a publisher, who takes care of a lot of the dirty work, or tackle the dirty work themselves, possibly with the help of ahem an agent who can help negotiate the e-distribution deals and work on selling the author’s subrights and help the author find freelancers to handle aspects they can’t tackle on their own.
If e-books-as-majority come to pass, the road to publication will be open like never before, and there will be a very crowded highway bypassing the publishers.
I really don’t think publishers are going to disappear entirely. The package of services and expertise they offer are unmatched (when things are running as they should), and it would be extremely difficult for Authors of the Future to navigate all of the complexities of making a bestselling book of the future by themselves. There’s a lot more to making a successful book than typing it out, hitting upload, and e-mailing your friends that your book’s on Amazon.
But publishers would have to be extremely author-friendly — they would be providing a service, not relying on their traditional role as gatekeepers and distributors. They’ll have to win over authors facing a choice between going with a publisher vs. handling matters on their own. Publishers won’t be able to rely, as they have traditionally, on the fact that authors need them in order to reach their audience, just as authors won’t be able to rely on publishers losing money on most of the books they publish.
This is why I think the relationship between author and publisher is going to increasingly be more of partnership.
I think it’s telling that some of the New Experimenters in the publishing industry, Twelve, HarperStudio and Vanguard, all treat the publishing experience as a partnership. Twelve cultivates the relationship between author and publisher and is able to do so by only publishing a book a month, HarperStudio limits advances but shares back-end revenue, and Vanguard asks the author to forego an advance in favor of transparency in marketing and higher royalties.
If e-books ever take over, the old system of authors and publishers squeezing every possible percentage point out of each other will give way for a system of shared responsibility and transparency. If the author doesn’t like the deal they’re getting they won’t be S.O.L. They can find another one. Or they can do it themselves.
But then there’s one more big looming question about publisher-as-service-provider: is there any profit in this?
I think so. My guess is that there will be a spectrum of choices available to authors, everything from no advance/handle everything themselves situation, where the author makes more profits on the backend, to the advance/traditional publisher scenario, where the author receives less on the backend.
But there are looming challenges with e-books, and lots of people are nervous about the $9.99 price point, and rightly so. Amazon is currently taking a loss on many of their sales in order to boost Kindle sales and market share. But some of these price point pressures, I think, will be sorted out by volume as e-book sales rise. Kassia Krozser blogged yesterday about how difficult it is right now for an e-publisher to turn any profit without significant scale.
My guess is that we’ll continue to see the mainstream publishing industry focus on the bestselling titles, and there will be a new crop of e-publishing services available for the rest. Some titles will rise up from the morass of author-published works and receive attention from the mainstream publishers, and some big authors will choose to take on the responsibilities of publishing themselves and bypass the publishers.
All of this assumes that e-books become dominant, and to be sure, that’s a big “if.” But things will definitely be changing.
It's certainly something to watch. I'd probably still go the traditional way, at least with letting the publisher make the cover art, do the copyedits, etc. I don't think I'd be up to figuring all of that out on my own.
Nathan Bransford says
I agree that platform and branding will be as important as ever before, but I don't think that will necessarily mean whoever has the biggest pile of cash can buy their way to bestsellerdom. I think fewer people will go directly to a bookseller to browse for a book and will instead hear about books through the websites and blogs they frequent. If that happens, positive word of mouth will be far more important than online co-op in driving sales.
What makes internet distribution so incredible is that I, like thousands of others, paid zero dollars for the download.
If that were the norm, nobody would make any money, and nobody would publish books. Authors can't live off the love of readers for their writing. In my opinion, if you can't respect the author by compensating them for their work, then you don't need to read it. Different story if an author puts their work up for free. I suspect no legit sources however, have put up Brown's book for free.
I also love the comment about getting your book and coffee made to go at the same time. Tech will get us to that point in the not so distant future. The Espresso machine has shown us it can be done.
Nathan Bransford says
What Jim Duncan said.
There is a major business opportunity right now for companies that specialize in stopping piracy. Just waiting for someone to fill that niche.
Excellent, thought-provoking piece, Nathan. I was riveted, now I'm mulling it all over.
Someone who no longer stubs their toe in the night or bangs their shin on the coffee table?
Malia Sutton says
"I'm a little surprised that so many people feel that publication by a major publisher is a mark of validation from the consumer's standpoint."
This is an interesting point. I see press releases each week in my small local newspaper by authors who are promoting their self-pubbed books. No one ever questions who pubbed the book. And it's never mentioned in the press release that the book was self-pubbed. The titles of the press releases read the same: "Local Published Author…" To me this is sneaky and misleading. But no one questions it.
Most people see that someone wrote a book and they rarely ask who the publisher is. I've listened quietly while friends discuss these books at dinner parties. And the publisher never comes up in conversation.
Adam Heine says
"Most people see that someone wrote a book and they rarely ask who the publisher is. I've listened quietly while friends discuss these books at dinner parties. And the publisher never comes up in conversation."
That's interesting, Malia. I read The Shack recently because of multiple recommendations. My first thought was that the writing was terrible. But I struggled for days afterwards because I was the only one who seemed to care.
Marilyn Peake says
Thought this was interesting, in light of the discussion here … The graphic novel, JACK SAID, was self-published in both eBook and paperback formats at Lulu.com and was runner-up for the Pearson Prize. It’s the prequel to the movie titled JACK SAYS that’s won a boatload of awards. I haven’t read the novel or seen the movie – I just discovered both online yesterday.
Malia Sutton says
My comment had nothing to do with whether or not self-pubbed books are better than books that were sold to publishers in the traditional way. I'm sure there are many good self-pubbed books and I'm sure that the good ones are worthy of prizes.
My point was that most people don't question who pubbed the book. They take for granted that all books are published in the traditional way and I think it's misleading not to mention this to the public, up front and out in the open. There's an underlying shifty quality that boarderlines on consumer fraud. It's legal. But it's still shifty.
Marla, why is it shifty?
I'm sorry I don't understand. What does it matter who published the book?
The popularity and quality of a book are what matters. Who cares who published it? From what you're saying, obviously not the readers. And they are, after all, the ones who count.
My guess is that eBooks will be priced at about $6 in the not-too-distant future, with the revenue split roughly 50-50 between author and eStore (Apple, Amazon, someone else.)
Dedicated eReaders like the Kindle will be replaced by iPads and Windows tablets, and competition between eStores will ensure that they can't take too big a cut.
$6 eBooks will kill both the book retailers and the publishers that sell to them. Printed books will priced so much more higher than eBooks that fewer and fewer readers will buy them. It just costs too much to print/ship/return books.
eBooks uploaded to eStores by their authors will still need a seal of approval from a credible gatekeeper. So seal-of-approval blurbing might be the new role for agents, since they're the principal gatekeepers today. Or maybe the task will fall to super-reader/reviewers like those on Amazon.
As publishers go under, an ecosystem of experienced freelancers should emerge to help authors with services like editing, graphic design, marketing, reviews, etc. But the author will have to foot the bill for those services… quid-pro-quo for squeezing out today's intermediaries.
Joseph L. Selby says
Two very important points. Publishers' value isn't limited to just their distribution, but their reputation. If I buy a published book, I assume (and statistically speaking am probably correct) it is better than a self-published title. They're the quality control agent. If I have to choose between a self-published ebook and a Penguin-published ebook without any additional information, I'll pick Penguin first every time.
Second, you are totally and absolutely flat out wrong that epublishing requires no infrastructure. I've been reading this journal for a long time now and I've never seen you be so wrong. Giving away your stories for free requires a modicum of infrastructure. Selling, establishing a business, making money, that requires infrastructure. One of the reasons the industry is slow to embrace epublishing is because the infrastructure necessary to make it profitable isn't built and what is being built doesn't easily integrate with existing models. How many major publishers had ecommerce teams 5 years ago? 10? Everything they're doing now they're doing for the first time (and let me tell you, having helped make the sausage, the first attempts are just as ugly as you might suspect them to be).
Posting your work on the internet has been easy for 15 years now. Earning income as a writer still requires infrastructure. You're building your business online instead of brick and mortar, but so many standard principles still pertain and all that requires infrastructure (the hassle for international sales alone is maddening, let me tell you).
Malia Sutton says
I didn't say the readers didn't care. I said they didn't ask.
Nathan Bransford says
I'm not sure how you're taking away from my post that e-publishing doesn't require any infrastructure. Obviously it does. The difference though is that when you remove the physical barrier of shipping copies, previously afforded only by a publisher, suddenly the author has ready access to the same sales infrastructure that the publisher does, where previously the author relied on the publisher.
The bulk of my post was devoted to what you are calling infrastructure, which is all of the tasks aside from writing that go into making a successful book. And yeah – like I said, publishers will still be around to perform these tasks for writers. But writers will also have the opportunity to go around that process if they so choose and accomplish a lot of those tasks on their own.
Lately, I have suspected that all of the publishing houses have laid off their editors to save money.
I'm not sure publishers guarantee anything except the marketability of a story concept and the target readers' acceptability of the book's quality of writing. Beyond that, they mostly offer authors access to the big retailers like Borders and a stamp of industry approval for the critics.
Anon@6:31 – You are a thief.
Malia (that's a beautiful name, btw) – so you think they care?
Agree that Anon@6:31 is a thief. I forgot to mention in my last post that piracy is another reason eBooks need to be cheap – $6 or less. Low prices diminish the rationale for piracy and make the parasites who steal look infantile.
Lyn Miller-Lachmann says
"If I have to choose between a self-published ebook and a Penguin-published ebook without any additional information, I'll pick Penguin first every time."
It depends on what you're looking for. I edit one of the few mainstream trade journals that will review self-published books. I do it because these self-published books are often the only ones on the cultural diversity-related topics the journal covers. About a quarter of the self-pubbed titles we've reviewed have gone on to be republished by big presses, but I'd have to say that all of them are of comparable quality to traditionally published books–otherwise we wouldn't waste the space on them.
Your point about cost point is well taken, but…
The danger of piracy of e-books is way overstated. When college students buy used books or when friends share books among themselves, are they committing an act of piracy? If a hard copy, no. If a soft copy, yes.
The inability to easily share or resell e-books guarantees to boost new book sales, especially if the price point is <$10. Last year a friend recommended The Road and lent me his print copy. If it had been on his Kindle instead, my only option would have been to buy my own copy (electronic or otherwise).
At $9.99, the cost is not prohibitive. So I would have bought it and the industry recaptures otherwise lost revenue.
Yes, I could seek out a used print copy, but in this marketplace (SF Bay Area), I doubt I could find one under $8. I'll forgo the savings of $2 for the convenience of home shopping.
(BEFORE I GET FLAMED, don't worry, I spend many happy hours and many dollars in my local independent bookstores.)
I wrote about this for FMC: https://www.flatmancrooked.com/archives/3789
I agree that e-book piracy is a marginal concern… and one that diminishes further as eBook prices drop.
And I agree that $9.99 eBook pricing isn't outrageous.
My main point is that Amazon's $9.99 price was set in apposition to traditional print pricing, which reflects the costs of printing/warehousing/shipping/stock-balancing.
If the book industry were starting from scratch with an online-based model, authors and eStores would set pricing to maximize profits based on microeconomic theory, namely price at marginal revenue = marginal cost.
The result would be prices closer to $5 than $10, which would lead to dramatically higher unit sales. Lots of risk-averse readers would take a chance on a $5 eBook.
Malia Sutton: They take for granted that all books are published in the traditional way and I think it's misleading not to mention this to the public, up front and out in the open. There's an underlying shifty quality that boarderlines on consumer fraud. It's legal. But it's still shifty.
Malia, I don't really get the paranoia here. The worth of the book is, … the book, isn't it? Don't you feel people are capable of making a buy/don't buy decision on their own? And do you have any idea how many books have had a "subsidy" of some kind paid to the publisher?
Certainly the flattening of the barrier to entry into publishing has led to many books being published that would not have been published through traditional publishers. On the other hand, serious self-publishers have for many years taken the trouble to hire professionals to produce a book indistinguishable from those published traditionally. Self publishing has long been a good choice for many niche non fiction authors, nothing "shifty" about it. "Consumer fraud"?? Seems a bit ridiculous.
OK – my response to you yesterday was a bit snarky, but now I have a new angle – read what happened to me as I tried to get a "limited availability" (read – self published) book from my local library.
Before ANY of what you say happens, you will need to change the views of the #1 purchaser of Hardback Books – your library
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez says
Odd that you reference Kassia's post while simultaneously stating, "You don't need infrastructure to distribute e-books."
As I understand it, that seems to have been a major element in Quartet's imploding.
Not having a distribution infrastructure means having to deal with third-party eretailers and a variety of formats, which requires significant scale to achieve profitability, or very modest revenue expectations.
Bypassing the eretailers and going direct-to-consumer requires both an ecommerce AND a digital distribution infrastructure. It's not just emailing out PDFs in response to PayPal notifications, and few DTC publishers can match Amazon's user experience and customer service.
Publishers, like record companies, will be forced to evolve, many against their will, but the vast majority of authors will still need them to get their work out to a larger audience, whether in print or as ebooks.
Nathan Bransford says
That's mainly a publisher's problem, but not necessarily an author's. An author would (theoretically) be able deal directly with online e-tailers. I suspect that one or more e-distributor/wholesaler will emerge to service authors as a one-stop e-publishing stop, but that wasn't (to my knowledge) Quartet's business model.
The big question is whether it will be profitable for publishers to be a middleman between author and e-tailer. I suspect it will be for the biggest authors, who will rely on publishers for a variety of services, but it will be more challenging for smaller operations.
But this is all kind of beside the point in the present. Right now the e-book market is simply too small for the type of scale necessary to make the price points profitable for e-publishing-only operations, but things will change if the market grows significantly, which was the scenario posed by the post.
Malia Sutton says
Mira…I think they care when they are given the information they need to make a decision. But that information is not always presented in press releases and promotions.
JFBookman…"Self publishing has long been a good choice for many niche non fiction authors, nothing "shifty" about it. "Consumer fraud"?? Seems a bit ridiculous."
Then I'm sure you'll agree that there's no problem in mentioning that a book was self-pubbed in a press release or promotion. This way consumers can make their own choices. And everyone is happy 🙂
Actually, I want to say that more clearly.
Malia, I feel like there's an underlying argument here that I still don't quite get. Why would they care if they get the information?
More clearly: what's the positive of knowing that information? How does that benefit the reader?
But I also sense that you may be feeling abit under the gun in this conversation. You used some strong language, but I'm not trying to put you on the defensive. I'm also okay if you just want to drop it.
Malia Sutton says
"I'm also okay if you just want to drop it."
Thanks, Mira. We're not going anywhere but down with this one 🙂
Nathan wrote: The big question is whether it will be profitable for publishers to be a middleman between author and e-tailer.
I agree. The important questions are 1) what is the value chain? (i.e. who makes money where) and 2) where are the control points?
It is indeed the e-tailers that are positioned to win here. Already today, most of us buy books online — either hardcopy or electronic. I go to the bookstore — but that's more like a field trip. I go home, read the reviews, and buy from Amazon.
I'm still not with you that the electroonic media will dominate. People like having books in their hands. I think part of the fiction will go electronic — but non-fiction (especially anything that people may want to refer) will still be dominantly hardcopy.
The publishers — if they are thinking strategically — should be worried and investing in services businesses.
Rachel Starr Thomson says
So the traditional publisher of the future looks a lot like the vanity publisher of today? Gracious.
Also, the idea of all the hundreds of thousands of self-styled writers out there having equal access to distribution causes the head to spin. I already get overwhelmed when I walk into a Chapters or B&N.
Overall, though, I think partnership sounds like a positive development.
Congrats on your blog award, by the way–you deserve it!
Nothing like current e-book technology will kill physical books. The e-ink screens on these devices are excellent for displaying text; they're not backlit, so they're easy on the eyes, and the power only runs when the screen refreshes, so the battery can go days or weeks without a recharge.
However, this technology is limited to displaying static text or images. It's not good for web-browsing, or e-mailing, and it can't display video. Multipurpose devices like PCs and Smartphones offer an inferior reading experience.
The device is expensive, and substantial discounts over book prices elsewhere only apply to new hardcover books. Despite Amazon's heavy subsidy, e-book pricing still doesn't beat used bookstores, half.com and eBay for anything except current hardcover bestsellers.
That means ebooks will only reach a market that is passionate enough to purchase a dedicated book-reading device. Even if the price of the Kindle dropped by half, the e-book market would still be only a small fraction of the larger book market.
This is offset, somewhat, by royalties that are potentially several times what authors get from publishers. But the likelihood of an author even selling 1/4 the number of copies on Kindle that he would sell through conventional channels is remote, so it will be difficult to make more money selling an e-book alone.
Kindle does, however, offer an opportunity to sell things like essays, short stories and novellas which are unprofitable to publish conventionally.
Kindle has also proven to be an excellent promotional tool for authors and publishers. Charlie Huston, Joseph Finder, James Patterson and Lee Child have all given away free backlist books to Kindle users to promote their new releases and hook new readers into continuing series. Free e-books go straight to the top of the Kindle Bestseller list, and generate a lot of attention from new readers, for very little cost.
Everyone who has a Kindle says they buy more books because of the device. I think this will prove to be a good thing for the publishing business.
Which will people read?? E-books or books in paper? I know I prefere the comfort of holding a book in your hand, snuggling up on the couch and it taking you away… but, what will the over all public want? Starring at your computer screen or the good, old fashioned way?
Tim Jones says
I'm with Nathan in doubting that the name of the publisher on the spine makes much difference to sales. My first few books were published by small presses, while my latest short story collection was published by Random House. I'm really pleased by that, and it's been great for distribution and getting reviews, but no-one apart from other writers has commented on the "step up" in publisher, or said that it was a factor in their decision to buy, or not to buy, my book.
Paul Neuhardt says
Well, speaking as an as yet un-published author just getting started and as a 25 year techo-geek for my day job, let me add two cents more to this:
1. I love technology. I love the Kindle and the whole concept of e-readers and being able to take 100 books with me in the palm of my hand. That said, I hope I never have to give up my bound books. Sorry Amazon, but I simply love holding a thick volume with some heft to it and turning pages. It is just more emotionally comforting.
2. I don't want to self publish. I don't want my name on crap for the whole world to see, and like it or not the current process is designed to filter out the crap. I want to be able to get past an agent, a publisher, an editor, a proofreader, etc. to get my work in print so I have some validation that it is worth the money I am asking someone to spend on it. They may call the do-it-your-self publishing houses "vanity presses," but I look at it the other way around. It plays more to my vanity to be able to say that I ran the gauntlet and got published.
And on top of it all, while I really look forward to readings in front of book clubs, signings and other PR work for my books, I don't want to do it all myself. I want the help of people who know more about it than I do. I want someone else out there advocating for me.
If I've learned nothing else in life, I've learned that a significant percentage of the population is smarter than I am about most things, and everyone is smarter than I am about something. My goal is to get an agent and publisher that are smarter than I am about getting my work out to the highest possible number of people that will appreciate it.
Maya Reynolds says
Nathan: A great post and an excellent question.
Two more questions that need to be asked:
1) What role will the Internet giants play in the evolving publishing landscape?
2) What will the book look like in the future?
We need to accept that Amazon and Google are part of the publishing landscape.
I believe Amazon has made a huge misstep by continuing to use BookSurge as a vanity press for self-published writers and in slapping those poor quality works up on its website next to traditionally vetted books.
It goes back to your concept of the gatekeeper. Amazon is allowing its corporate greed to interfere with its gatekeeping function.
Thus far, at least, Google has remained focussed on its "search engine" business. The reason they are copying the world's books is to advantage that business.
That brings me to the second question above. A digital environment can be instrumental in changing reading from a solitary experience to a social one.
Think about a thousand teenagers reading the next TWILIGHT in a virtual reading room with the author available to talk about the characters and plot.
If I were a publisher, I'd be seeking ways to use Google in my efforts to build online communities for authors and their readers.
Thanks again. Your posts always make me think.
susan piver says
A fascinating post and an electrifying conversation. It's kind of aamazing to stand together to contemplate an industry that is about to morph/expire/be born.
I'm a writer who worked in the music business for 10 years, ending in 2000. Which is basically the year the industry ended. (No connection!!! Ha.) I worked in various capacities in sales, marketing, promotion, etc. It's eerie to hear how similar this conversation is to the one we had 10 years ago. I'm not saying the future of publishing will be the same, just that the current conversation is almost verbatim. I was at a TOC conference some months ago and walked around mildly in shock. It was like being beamed back 10 years, minus the body piercings and men with phoney-tails.
Two big differences:
1. Traditional books aren't born digitized. (Although manuscripts are…) This is helpful. Music only exists in digital form. Unlike CDs, you can't buy a book in a store, take it home, and bootleg it.
2. Music had more than one retail chain to rely on. I think this prolonged the inevitable and gave more opportunity (unexploited) to cope with the enormous changes. With only one retailer of significance in bricks and mortar retail, well, that's a lot of eggs in one basket.
For what it's worth, here's a link to a post I wrote on the publishing industry going down the same path as music. https://bit.ly/CIZSp
PS Nathan, you are awesome! You are majorly thought-provoking and a pleasure to follow on twitter. Thanks for all you do.
Ryan Chapman says
Great post, lots of food for thought. Also nice to see this issue discussed intelligently and without the vitriol that can appear around these topics.
Maryann Miller says
Very informative article, Nathan. Thanks for taking the time to gather all the info and post it here. I just Tweeted it, so more writers can read it.
Kenneth Mark Hoover says
"This is why I think the relationship between author and publisher is going to increasingly be more of partnership."
Maybe it should have been more of a partnership to begin with rather than publishers finding ways to rape authors and do as little as possible in order to maximize their profits. Cutting out their mid-lists in order to snag that multi-million dollar best seller was another ways publishers shot themselves in the foot.
Is it possible that publishers may also gain a major role in the marketing of books as a primary reason to exist?
For example think of how many websites exist on the internet, finding what you want or finding good information can be easy or difficult depending on what you're looking for.
Search engines help with most of this, but people rarely go through page after page to select a site.
With literally thousands of people wanting to be published, compared to a relative few who are, the quality of books will suffer if anyone can publish one.
People will want to read good books. Quality books. They will need a way to separate the want to be writer who just wants to publish something for fun or ego from the professional writer who has honed their craft.
M. R. Birkos says
Back in the 70's, folks talked about how soccer would replace football in the national consciousness, once all these kids that were playing soccer grew up, presumably by the 90s. Didn't happen. Have you ever sat through a soccer game? Geez.
Last time I lifted the lid and peeked into the publishing world was the mid 90s. The internet was new back then. Self-publishing would level the landscape, so on, so forth. 15 years later – I can tell you that not one thing has changed. Not even the percentages. Y'all are saying the same stuff.
I believe the fundamental truth, then and now, is that the work must stand on it's own merit, and the author must persevere in pounding the pavement until the break is made.
As Mr. Bransford has turned me down, I gotta go figure out to whom to send my next query. If y'all will excuse me…
M. R. Birkos says
Seriously though. My generation are the last of the candlelight people, trying to find our way in the age of LEDs. A hardcopy book is real. It will be read by your grand children, without regard to compatable formats. Strive for that.
Larry Hunter says
Here is what I think will happen in the future of publishing. The big publishers will develop their own print on demand divisions or buy out existing ones, that will be like the minor leagues in baseball where new writers with potential will have their talents honed and developed and the best of the bunch will be promoted to the parent company.This is predicated on the fact that these print on demand and self publishing companies continue to increase market share and e books continue to be more popular.Agents will fill the roll of talent scouts. but who knows, it may be the other way around and the print on demand people buy out the publishers as their demand increases. As for the quality of books available.There are as many reader types and tastes as there are authors to fill them.The demand for the author's work should be the only judge. Who needs gatekeepers,that sounds like censorship to me.