Where Good Books Come From, by Linda Leith. Part II: Self-publishing and mega-publishing houses

The growth of self-publishing is one of the developments that are putting the writer-publisher relationship at risk. As with many changes, there are pros and cons to self-publishing. A writer does not have to wait to get the nod from a publisher; she can simply go ahead and publish her own book. The writer might also make more money through self-publishing, and there are some much-publicized examples of writers making substantial sums of money.

Not all is rosy for the self-published writer, however. She might not sell many copies of her book and might well end up out of pocket. Selling books is difficult, and it is also time-consuming, so that’s a decision a writer needs to make: whether to spend her time marketing and selling and doing the job of the publisher – or just focus on writing.

Another issue is that no one has vouched for the self-published book. No one other than the author herself is coming up to the plate to say, I will invest time and money and thought in this book. The self-published writer has in fact no real relationship with a publisher. The writer works pretty much alone, with whatever services the company of choice can offer.

At the other end of the scale are the giant international publishing corporations, which are having their own impact on writer-publisher relations. The recently announced plan to merge Random House and Penguin will reduce the number of big international publishing houses from the Big 6 to the Big 5. If this week’s proposed merger between HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster goes through, we’ll be down to 4 -- en route perhaps to some even smaller number. This kind of consolidation will surely have an impact, and many are speculating on what that impact will be.

It seems clear there will be fewer writers and less choice. There will inevitably be less personal relations between the writer and such publishing giants. There will, on the other hand, presumably be advantages, as well, for a conglomerate like “Random Penguin” will be in a stronger position to negotiate with Amazon, a mega-corporation that's in the business of helping writers self-publish. Which is where these two extremes start to meet.

© 2012, Linda Leith

Tomorrow: Good relations between writer and publisher – and good books.


Photo: Judith Lermer Crawley 

 

Linda Leith is the author, most recently, of Writing in the Time of Nationalism (Signature 2010) and Marrying Hungary (2008), and she is the publisher at Salon .ll. and Linda Leith Publishing.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

More articles

La Gelateria, by Davide D'Alessandro

gelato, that most simple, small, and affordable item of gastronomic art, is a fundamental part of the dolce vita. Few things, big or little, so easily inject us with happiness and evoke a smile of satisfaction. Have it often, certainly daily, while in Italy. 

More from Davide D'Alessandro's The Dolce Vita Code.


Luca D'Alessandro [Photo courtesy Davide D'Alessandro]

Much outcry as Australian broadcaster kills popular radio book show
I will take this opportunity to point to the spectacular example that Australia’s Book Show has set in books coverage on radio – and to lament that fact that we don’t have anything that comes even close to daily books coverage here in Canada.
                                          
                                           Ramona Koval, presenter of
                                           The Book Show
8-Logos-bottom