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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Publishers Block?

There is a lot of debate at present about publishing and publishers, and not unnaturally, the relationships between authors, publishers and agents. A relatively new author on the block, Michael Kingswood, has quite a bit to say about it in a recent post to his blog "Michael Kingswoods Writing Blog."

He contends, and I confess that I tend to agree, that the idea that authors are "artists" who haven't got the business savvy to handle dealing with publishers, is wrong. Certainly the example he presents is a powerful one. Another writer who comments on the state of the publishing industry and some of its shibboleths and myths is Dean Wesley Smith and K K Rusch is also quite vocal on the issue as well.

There are a lot of frustrated and angry writers out there. The problem is that the publishing industry has changed a lot in recent years. No longer do editors look for good writing so much as for "current topic" and "fashionable ideas." Nor do they provide an author with editing assistance, now they don't have time and want the book delivered, fully edited and ready to go. This is why so many 'Best Sellers' are riddled with typos in inconsistencies.

I've been writing stuff for years and I'd be the first to admit that I'm not good at editing my own work. But that is precisely what is now expected of a writer. He or she is also expected to market and sell their own work, something that was previously tackled by the publisher. The truth is that these days to get into a traditional publisher your work has to be passed by the accountants first as marketable and they are looking for an angle. If you're an ex-politician spilling the beans on your years in office, or an ex-con you're marketable, everyone else needs a second angle to get in...

That said, I get a lot of offers to publish through "Joint Venture" schemes. In short, I put up the money and a traditional publisher publishes the book and hopefully sells it. Having burned my fingers on one such effort, I am now extremely cautious about these. In the meantime I should soon be able to wall paper the staircase with rejection slips as I continue to explore the traditional route. And herein lies another part of the problem - almost all the imprints are now owned by the same five or six Holding Companies, all of them run by accountants ...

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