This blog is written by John Hunt and I am sharing because it has useful information for if you are interested in publishing or being published. Thank you John.
My ideal publishing company
We are about as “author-centric” as you can get, in terms of looking out for author interests. We probably come across with a quite different impression, with our heavy reliance on database systems, automatic email notifications, constant linked references to help copy/user manual rather than emails, meetings and phone calls, the fact that we publish about one out of five of our titles with an author subsidy, etc…
But most of the people working in the business are authors. They’ve “migrated” into the business, starting off with a bit of copy-editing or proof reading, doing some PR on other titles, over a period of what is usually a couple of years some of them becoming publishers in their own right, and the business is built around them. We’ve never advertised for staff within the publishing industry. The balance for us is not so much “author share of income versus publisher/shareholders share of income” as “I as an author want xyz done for my book, but as the person doing xyz on other titles I also want a fair income for my work”. So the idea of a fair reward for work done, a fair proportion of sales income, on both sides of the fence, is in our DNA.
Actually, I don’t think there is a fence. We’re all in it together. Publishers should be authors. And authors can be publishers (though not all of them, and most wouldn’t want to). The function of “publisher” in the traditional sense (controlling access to the market) has gone. And a good thing too.
I probably wouldn’t /couldn’t have started the original O Books paperback list (which has now diversified into other imprints) without having gone through the experience of being an author myself, Bringing God Back to Earth. Back then, 10 years ago, it was a very different market, seems medieval now, virtually pre-internet. But it did help me understand the author’s point of view, the complexity of bringing a manuscript through to a finished book, the highs and lows along the way.
If I was coming at it now, looking for a publisher, there are more options.
If it was me, with a new manuscript, now, I wouldn’t get an offer. My last book didn’t sell well enough, I haven’t got a big enough “platform”. Could trawl around agents/publishers, but would probably take a few years before I got a contract, and I don’t have the time/energy to do it. Plus, you give up publishing rights for ever, and only get 10 or 20% of the income. And the publisher probably isn’t going to market it anyway, and the editor who championed you will have left before the book comes out, a couple of years later.
Lots of options. And you can get 70% of the income. But will it sell, and where do you start? And a) I haven’t much of a clue about designing/marketing my book, and b) I don’t want to spend the time finding people to do it, as well as c) I suspect you can spend $10/20,000 with people who would like the money but won’t tell you that “actually, it’s not worth spending this much; you can get a lot done for about $1,000 in terms of time, and if that isn’t working, then use the feedback (or lack of it) to figure out how to improve the next book”.
So what I’ld like, is
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