As Authors, We Should Expect More From Our Publishers
Why should we have to jump through their flaming hoops to be published?
I’ve been hearing the grumblings from the writing community on Twitter. Why do we have to jump through the query hoops, and brown-nose the agents, and cow-tow to the elite, just to get on the roster of one of the big publishing companies?
What do they really do for you? Okay, unless you are Stephen King, your advance will be nothing to write home about. But, they say, you get to amaze the Twitterati by announcing that Snooty & Snobby Publishing has accepted your manuscript. Imagine that?
They edit your book and let the grammar nazis destroy the flow you worked so hard to create. Then they publish and send out a press release.
Do they build you a website for your new book? Do they promote you on social media? Do they set up events for you beyond the prerelease? Or do they set it and forget it? “It” being your precious book that you have worked all your life for?
Are you just another number in a ledger to them?
Writing a book is a big deal for authors. I know, I just independently released a small book of essays, and although it wasn’t a big fancy book, I was proud and felt on top of the world. I still do.
So why would you give control of your work to someone who only cares about the bottom-line, and who will only invest the bare minimum to earn the 70% of royalties you signed over.
Damn right I’m upset! I detest the publishing establishment that makes you think it's some great honor to work with them. The honor is getting as many people as you can to read your work. Wouldn’t you rather have a publisher who values readership over greenbacks?
Wouldn’t you give up your small pittance of an advance for a little more control over your work? Wouldn’t you rather have a publisher who is a writer first, whose main goal is to get your book into the hands of everyone?
I’ve never published a book with a big publisher, but some of my best friends have. My ears are open when I talk to people on Twitter who have horror stories about the very publishers that are supposed to be helping them to best-seller status.
People are tired of signing over the majority of their royalties and getting nothing in return but the privilege of being published by a big, snooty house.
It’s time we expected more from our publishers.
How Does This Sound?
Any publisher is going to take a share of your royalties, that is a given. But, what if the publisher actually invested money and time earning that lions-share of the loot?
What if we had editors that cared about preserving the magic you put into writing your book? What if your publisher and editor were writers as well, and understood what it was like to put your precious manuscript in the hands of a stranger?
What if your publisher listened to you, and made sure you understood every part of the publishing process, so you could use your personal network and social media to help the publisher distribute more books? What if your publisher did more than send out a press release, and set you up for a few prerelease podcasts?
What if your publisher crowd-sourced your book cover, and had some of the best illustrators and graphic designers in the world working for you?
What if your publisher was also a web designer, who understood the importance of making a splash on the web with a professional website and blog, and not settling for cheap Wix or Squarespace vanilla boilerplate pages for your book. What if your publisher understood the importance of the website acting as a hub for all your promotions, events, news, updates, and made it work with your social media accounts to get your name and book out to the public, not just sit on a bookstore shelf and gather dust.
What if your publisher helped you build your mailing list, so whether you worked with them in the future or not, you had a valuable resource to help promote future books?
What if your publisher also was a video producer and could create a book trailer that looked like it was something out of Hollywood? What if your publisher cared more about writers and authors, and the needs of their readers and cared less about money and prestige?
How would you like the publishing experience to be exciting, and a joy, so you don’t have to bootstrap your own release, and publish independently — because dammit, we are authors, not publishers, not web designers, not cover artists and illustrators, not editors.
We are writers.
Don’t you think it’s time that writers and authors were paid fairly for their hard work and sweat? Don’t you think it’s time someone other than the big names get published — for the value of their work and not the marketability of their name and influence?
Yes, the publisher will work hard to sell books and generate income, because their future depends on how well your books do on the best-seller list, but the culture of the company should not be driven by greed or the need to feel like you are a higher class than everyone else.
It’s time we toppled “the man” and showed the big publishing houses that we are tired of their flaming hoops and won’t be putting up with their shit anymore.
It’s time we called them out for their greed, snobbery, and underhanded dealings.
It’s time we expected more from our publisher.
Let me know what you think in the comments!