Publishers and what do they do – part 4326

I know been banging this drum but I think it is important in a devil’s advocate kind of way to really try and push the question of exactly the role of publishers going forward.

Is it as Rob Jones over at Snowbooks says to act as backer and risk taker? Not sure but what I do know is that the intelligent use of technology, a long hard look at the nonsense of the publishing supply chain for the majority of books and a little lateral thinking calls seriously into question the point of the publisher.

The reason for setting me on this hobby horse this morning is just looking this article in the Miami Herald about the role of the author in selling a book. The article features authors who it seems to do everything from embarking on city to city tours; to getting books reviewed; to producing videos for youtube; to paying for websites.

The common theme seems to be that the majority of publishers simply don’t have the resources to allocate to promote more than a small percentage of the number of books in their list.

As one author (a Seth Godin) says: “The unspoken truth is that except for perhaps 250 giant books every year [out of 75,000 published], the publisher is expecting the author to do 100 percent of the sales and promotion. ”

So, ok in 2006. If you have access to $500 computer and a copy of a page layout application you can create a print ready copy of your content. For $240 (sorry, about that bit of a plug) you can buy an application to manage all the information about your titles and send out all the information about your titles to all the on line retailers and bibliographic agencies (something by the way the vast majority of publishers still can’t do). You can now using POD providers physically to produce the book. And by using opportunities like Amazon Advantage you can distribute your books. Thought this link was particularly helpful in giving some tips on how best to make use of Amazon Advantage.

I had a meeting with Amazon at Frankfurt this year and they were very excitedly talking about possibilities for compressing the traditional publishing supply chain now that they have the latest digital printing technology right in the fulfillment centre. So, a lot of books don’t even need to be bloody produced until the book is actually ordered. Fantastic stuff.

So, anyway, rather lost my thread here – but if the originator of the content can produce and distribute that content and it appears from this article and quite frankly the majority of authors/publishers that I speak to that the publisher really doesn’t have the resource to properly market then again I ask – what do they do? And what is their role going forward?

And, please I ask this because I care and want them to have a role – but not confronting the issues and clinging on to a quite unworkable status quo is just not going to lead to anything but extinction. Oh, and in the meantime think seriously about moving to Wales.


Filed under: Publishing

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