Author Topic: Are publishers still relevant?  (Read 14064 times)

Offline AshK

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Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2011, 11:15:34 AM »
All I had to do was read one name and knew exactly what was going to be said.

 :zzz:
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline Aiala

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011, 11:26:12 AM »
"...a Hachette executive who preferred not to be named..."  LOL! Y'think?  ;D

Much ado about nothing. Que sera, sera.

~A~
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Offline bodwen

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 12:45:23 PM »

I agree with both sides of this article. 

Publishers offer many valuable services to those who suit their needs, but they need to get with the times.

Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2011, 12:54:15 PM »

I agree with both sides of this article. 

Publishers offer many valuable services to those who suit their needs, but they need to get with the times.

In what way(s) do you feel they're behind?
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline bodwen

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2011, 01:36:44 PM »
In what way(s) do you feel they're behind?

It's all spelled out in Konrath's rebuttal:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2011/j-a-konrath-responds-to-hachette-document-advice-to-publishers/

Here is his list below.

Quote

From J.A. Konrath to publishers:

Publishers should stop trying to convince themselves and others that they’re relevant, and start actually being relevant. Here’s how:

1. Offer much better royalties to authors.

2. Release titles faster. It can take 18 months after a book is turned in to be published. I can do it myself in a week.

3. Use up-to-date accounting methods that are trackable by the author, and pay royalties monthly.

4. Lower e-book prices.

5. Stop futilely fighting piracy.

6. Start marketing effectively. Ads and catalogue copy aren’t enough. Neither is your imprint’s Twitter feed.


Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2011, 01:53:44 PM »
Quote

From J.A. Konrath to publishers:

Publishers should stop trying to convince themselves and others that they’re relevant, and start actually being relevant. Here’s how:

1. Offer much better royalties to authors.

Possibly. However, an advance (money in hand) still looks better than waiting (and waiting and waiting) for that same amount in sales via self-publishing.

2. Release titles faster. It can take 18 months after a book is turned in to be published. I can do it myself in a week.

Yes, self-publishers can release a book within days. Most of those books look like it as well.

3. Use up-to-date accounting methods that are trackable by the author, and pay royalties monthly.

Have you looked at various forums where self-publishing authors talk about trying to figure out their sales and royalties? Talk about confused...

4. Lower e-book prices.

Why? So self-publishers can compete easier? It still costs the publishers the same amount to prepare an ebook as it does a print book. The additional costs for print is miniscule. And that lower cost for self-published ebooks is already starting to lose its advantage, if it ever really was one.

5. Stop futilely fighting piracy.

Again - why? Is it somehow preferable to have people stealing one's work?

6. Start marketing effectively. Ads and catalogue copy aren’t enough. Neither is your imprint’s Twitter feed.

This is almost laughable. How are self-publishers more effective marketers? How many can get their books onto shelves? How many can easily get legitimate reviewers to even look at them? Commercial publishers are able to get books noticed in many more places than SP blogs - and places that generate many more sales.

Konrath is one of those pie-in-the-sky I-have-an-axe-to-grind self-publishing gurus who have a great reputation among other self-publishers. Had he not already been commercially published, I wonder how he'd be doing now? Like I said, I saw the name and knew exactly what his response would be.
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline bodwen

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2011, 06:58:59 PM »

Possibly. However, an advance (money in hand) still looks better than waiting (and waiting and waiting) for that same amount in sales via self-publishing.

And probably never seeing that money.  Keep in mind you'd have to sell thousands of copies to equal even a paltry advance.  But I think his point is that if you're a proven moneymaker, you should be treated accordingly.

Yes, self-publishers can release a book within days. Most of those books look like it as well.

Largely out of disregard for the reader, but I've seen flawless books as well so it's not an issue of the typesetting technology. The little guys use the same software as the big guys, and I can vouch that a properly edited manuscript takes less than a week to convert to book form. Gone are the day where authors turned in handwritten journals and the printers had to set the type by hand.

Have you looked at various forums where self-publishing authors talk about trying to figure out their sales and royalties? Talk about confused...

Probably due to laziness or a poor grasp of math.  Agents and authors literally have to audit their publishers to find out how much they are owed.


4. Lower e-book prices.
Why? So self-publishers can compete easier? It still costs the publishers the same amount to prepare an ebook as it does a print book. The additional costs for print is miniscule. And that lower cost for self-published ebooks is already starting to lose its advantage, if it ever really was one.


Because readers are offended by $15 ebooks.  They don't care about the publisher's problems, ebooks have less perceived value than print book.  Consumers take this out on the authors, who have no control over the price of their books. 

If publishers want to keep their advantage, then don't offer the ebook version at all until the mass market paperback comes available.


5. Stop futilely fighting piracy.
Again - why? Is it somehow preferable to have people stealing one's work?


Don't really understand this one either. 

6. Start marketing effectively. Ads and catalogue copy aren’t enough. Neither is your imprint’s Twitter feed.

This is almost laughable. How are self-publishers more effective marketers? How many can get their books onto shelves? How many can easily get legitimate reviewers to even look at them? Commercial publishers are able to get books noticed in many more places than SP blogs - and places that generate many more sales.


True, but I think he's writing that as a disgruntalled midlister.

Konrath is one of those pie-in-the-sky I-have-an-axe-to-grind self-publishing gurus who have a great reputation among other self-publishers. Had he not already been commercially published, I wonder how he'd be doing now? Like I said, I saw the name and knew exactly what his response would be.  
 
And he's signed with a publisher again.  I think you're going to be seeing a lot of this yoyo-ing between publishing and selfpublishing as midlisters capitalize on their followings while the big six snap up the one or two authors who make it big with selfpublishing.

Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2011, 08:16:39 PM »
But I think his point is that if you're a proven moneymaker, you should be treated accordingly.

And I believe that is one is a proven moneymaker, publishers want to keep you happy, productive, and with them versus some other publisher. That's just good business. But they aren't going to be as enthusiastic if the author starts going downhill.

Yes, self-publishers can release a book within days. Most of those books look like it as well.

Largely out of disregard for the reader, but I've seen flawless books as well so it's not an issue of the typesetting technology. The little guys use the same software as the big guys, and I can vouch that a properly edited manuscript takes less than a week to convert to book form. Gone are the day where authors turned in handwritten journals and the printers had to set the type by hand.

It has nothing to do with typesetting. It's that "properly edited manuscript" - and a commercially viable cover, and a properly written blurb for catalogs, and all the other things that publishers do to give that book every chance of selling well. And yes, commercial publishers are working on more than just one book. But commercial publishers didn't get where they are by producing schlock.


4. Lower e-book prices.
Why? So self-publishers can compete easier? It still costs the publishers the same amount to prepare an ebook as it does a print book. The additional costs for print is miniscule. And that lower cost for self-published ebooks is already starting to lose its advantage, if it ever really was one.


Because readers are offended by $15 ebooks.  They don't care about the publisher's problems, ebooks have less perceived value than print book.  Consumers take this out on the authors, who have no control over the price of their books. 

If publishers want to keep their advantage, then don't offer the ebook version at all until the mass market paperback comes available.

I don't think readers are offended by $15 ebooks, actually. I do think readers are beginning to see that those 99 cent books are typically worth exactly that. And as I said, the marketing ploy of 99 cent ebooks is already starting to fail, mainly because everybody and their uncle is using it.


6. Start marketing effectively. Ads and catalogue copy aren’t enough. Neither is your imprint’s Twitter feed.

This is almost laughable. How are self-publishers more effective marketers? How many can get their books onto shelves? How many can easily get legitimate reviewers to even look at them? Commercial publishers are able to get books noticed in many more places than SP blogs - and places that generate many more sales.


True, but I think he's writing that as a disgruntalled midlister.

Disgruntled is putting it mildly.  :wink:

Konrath is one of those pie-in-the-sky I-have-an-axe-to-grind self-publishing gurus who have a great reputation among other self-publishers. Had he not already been commercially published, I wonder how he'd be doing now? Like I said, I saw the name and knew exactly what his response would be.  
 
And he's signed with a publisher again.  I think you're going to be seeing a lot of this yoyo-ing between publishing and selfpublishing as midlisters capitalize on their followings while the big six snap up the one or two authors who make it big with selfpublishing.

I think we'll see more authors self-publishing their older books whose rights have reverted. I don't know if they'll want (or be allowed) to self-publish new books while under contract with a commercial publisher, but it's certainly possible.

Overall though, I think the whole "commercial publishing is dying" is vastly overblown. Not only because self-publishers are not as successful as some would claim, but because there's a whole pack of writers out there who do not want to be publishers. They may not be 100% happy with their publishers, but still prefer to let the professionals do their thing while they spend their time creating books.
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline bodwen

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2011, 09:14:16 PM »

And I believe that is one is a proven moneymaker, publishers want to keep you happy, productive, and with them versus some other publisher. That's just good business. But they aren't going to be as enthusiastic if the author starts going downhill.

I know bestselling authors who were dropped by both their publisher and their agent, and had to start over.


Quote
It has nothing to do with typesetting. It's that "properly edited manuscript" - and a commercially viable cover, and a properly written blurb for catalogs, and all the other things that publishers do to give that book every chance of selling well. And yes, commercial publishers are working on more than just one book. But commercial publishers didn't get where they are by producing schlock.

I think he was talking about typesetting.  If anyone can properly edit a manuscript in a week, I'd pay to learn his secrets. 

Quote
  I don't think readers are offended by $15 ebooks, actually. I do think readers are beginning to see that those 99 cent books are typically worth exactly that. And as I said, the marketing ploy of 99 cent ebooks is already starting to fail, mainly because everybody and their uncle is using it.

I've seen backlash against both.  The sweetspot seems to be the $3.99 - $7.99 for publishers, which seems about right to me.

Quote
I think we'll see more authors self-publishing their older books whose rights have reverted. I don't know if they'll want (or be allowed) to self-publish new books while under contract with a commercial publisher, but it's certainly possible.
 

A lot of prior authors got lucky because the digital rights were not mentioned on their contracts because the technology wasn't there.  The publishers tried to argue that the digital rights are implied, but the judges disagreed.  If I were a backlist author I'd be cranking out my old titles as e-books like there is no tomorrow.

Quote
Overall though, I think the whole "commercial publishing is dying" is vastly overblown. Not only because self-publishers are not as successful as some would claim, but because there's a whole pack of writers out there who do not want to be publishers. They may not be 100% happy with their publishers, but still prefer to let the professionals do their thing while they spend their time creating books.

I don't think it's dying, but it could use a bit of an overhaul.  Right now publishers have a huge edge in that they have vast sums of money to employ armies of people to vet, edit, and market these books.  But it would be a mistake to rest on their laurels and ignore the barbarians at the gate.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 10:20:26 PM by bodwen »

Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2011, 08:14:15 AM »
I know bestselling authors who were dropped by both their publisher and their agent, and had to start over.]

That would most likely be the 'downhill' I was talking about. If the author isn't producing (either quality or quantity) as expected based on their previous work, then I could see publishers being more willing to drop them. And of course, there's always a change in what readers want. Not that long ago, westerns were Big Time. Now...

I don't think it's dying, but it could use a bit of an overhaul.  Right now publishers have a huge edge in that they have vast sums of money to employ armies of people to vet, edit, and market these books.  But it would be a mistake to rest on their laurels and ignore the barbarians at the gate.

I really don't think they're resting - I think it took a little longer to get the epubs going because, after all, they aren't dealing with just one book, or one author. But I don't think they need to be that concerned about the barbarians at the gate, either. Self-publishing has a long way to go before that happens. It's still a rarity to see an SP really take off; I frankly think there's more hype about the format than the publishers (which some are rather dubiously taking advantage of).
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline Aiala

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2011, 12:00:56 PM »
But commercial publishers didn't get where they are by producing schlock.

 :eek:  :eek:   :eek:   :faint2: :rof2:

~A~
"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate" ~ Dante Alighieri, Inferno
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Offline shadowwalker

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2011, 12:22:13 PM »
But commercial publishers didn't get where they are by producing schlock.

 :eek:  :eek:   :eek:   :faint2: :rof2:

~A~

 ???

Are you indicating that you think the Big 6 became so successful because they did a crappy job of publishing? Or are you voicing a subjective dislike of most commercially published books?
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” - Milton Berle

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Offline Tabris

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2011, 12:41:24 PM »
I'll say something about the piracy thing. Book publishers are doing the same thing the music industry was doing early on, with DRM on all their books. I bought two ebooks through B&N (so, legit) that were not made available by their publisher through any other seller. (I don't have a Kindle, so amazon doesn't count here.)  The free Nook books are readable on my Kobo, but when I actually paid for these two books, I learned that if you pay for a book, you can't read it on anything other than a Nook or Nook software. Why? Because of the DRM.

After getting the runaround from B&N and from the publisher, I still couldn't read the products I had paid for.

(That problem has since been solved. You can use google as well as I can.)

People are realizing that if they want to change devices, they can't bring all their legally-purchased books with them. But the pirated one? They port from device to device just fine.

If the publishers will quit with the DRM stuff, it's not going to stop the die-hard pirates who would rather pay nothing for a book than buy it legitimately. But when they  make it impossible to either read or find the product you want to pay for, that's when people resort to illegitimate means.  So the publishers need to make it easier to buy the legal copies of the ebooks than it is to download the illegal copies.

You don't get music from iTunes for free (except on a very limited basis). You absolutely can get all those songs for free online if you spend about five minutes on Google, but iTunes is thriving and that's because they've made it so brain-dead easy to get music from them and put it on your device. Publishers need to do the same with their books.

Offline JeanneT

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Re: Are publishers still relevant?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 01:18:30 PM »
First what the heck is "commercial publishing"? You mean traditional publishing? Are you under the impression that indie authors don't get money for their books? That makes it commercial.

I'm afraid much of the argument here is by people who are angry because they spent years chasing the brass ring and are now being told that the brass ring is irrelevent.

The statements from Amazon are quite straightforward. UNLIKE the royalty statements from the major publishing companies. I suggest as reading material Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog post on the topic: http://kriswrites.com/ The woman has received more than one or two of them.

There is NO need for novels to take 18 months to 2 years to be published. And I challenge you to take a look at Freedom's Sword or Countenance of War and tell me the covers don't meet the highest standards. Oops, I hired someone who also works for the big guys. And it didn't cost me 85% of the income from my work. Same with editing. I can and do hire experienced ones and it doesn't cost most of the profits.

As for the Traditional Publishers don't produce schlock argument I simply repeat the mantra: Snooki... Snooki...

Yep, I sure as heck want "validation" from them. :crazy:

By the way, Konrath has not signed with a traditional publisher. He has published a couple of novels through one of the Amazon imprints in addition to his indie novels. In the meantime, he is still fighting to get back the rights to some of his novels. On pirating, it is simply a non-issue. I suggest looking up the interview Neil Gaiman did on copyright piracy. It's on youtube.

As for whether we indie authors make money, well, I've sold 6000 novels in the last year. Most of them I got $2.70 in royalties each. You figure it out. I'm strictly a mid-lister, not one of the big guys, but how many mid-listers do you know in traditional publishing who are coming close to making that? Guess what. It's darn few.
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