What Are Publishers?
What is a book?
the content – “I wrote a book”
- information, communication
the container – “I dropped a book”
- something that hasn’t been invented yet
What is a publisher?
- “publishing” means making the content public, regardless of the container
- globally, when people talk about “publishers” (as opposed to indie- or self-publishers) they usually mean the big 5
- in NZ, small presses are more common
- small presses and self publishers have more in common with each other than small presses have with the big 5
- when we use the same tools to marry content and container, the differences between the different kinds of publishing vanish
What’s in a name?
- there’s a continuum of self-publishing <-> author-publishing <-> indie publishing <-> small presses <-> large presses
- some self-published work is obvious, some traditionally published work is obvious, but most books are somewhere along the continuum
- what’s the difference between the self-publisher who hires a structural editor, a proofreader, a layout artist and a cover artist and the small press who publish some books written by members of the editorial staff?
- what’s the difference between a manuscript that was vetted by an agent then by an acquisitions editor, and an indie book that everyone is talking about?
- with every passing year, the lines separating the kinds of publishing blur a little more
The elephant in the room
- quality – if anyone can chuck their novel up on Amazon, how can you know it’s any good?
- isn’t a book that was chosen by a publisher inherently more likely to be good than one the author just decided to put out there?
- probably: it’s hard to judge your own work, though there are ways to get around that – beta readers, critiquers, editors
- just because a book is more likely to be better if it passed through the hurdles of traditional publishing, that doesn’t mean that it definitely will be good
- big publishing looks for commercial successes, so independent publishing can afford to take a chance on experimental, controversial material
- self-publishing isn’t new, and it certainly isn’t the death knell for literature
What can book publishers do for authors?
What can an author do alone fairly easily?
- creating a professional package (editing, cover)
- global online distribution of ebooks and print
What is it harder for an author to do?
- awards submission
- local distribution
- print copies in bookshops, libraries
- being tied to a brand (ie. Tor, Angry Robot, Mills & Boon)
Some authors aren’t interested in or able to do it all for themselves, there will always be a place for people who can help.
Places to find indie books: