Friday, April 16, 2021

Writing: The Changing Face Of Publishing

I'm sort of unique, I guess, and some other authors are, too. I've published with a recognized publisher, put out a handful of novellas  and two novels as an "indie" author, and in the process had not one but two agents. So I guess it's okay for me to opine on the current state of publishing, and how it got there.

There once was a time when the only way to get published was to have an agent accept you as a client, then hope they were successful in interesting a publisher in your work. Then, you wrote three or four books under contract, and hoped that the publisher--after looking at your figures (it is, after all, a "for profit" enterprise)--would give you another contract.

Tired of this chronic uncertainty, first a few and then many more authors struck out to independently publish their works. These "indie" authors found that there was a good bit that publishing houses did for them--covers, editing, even marketing. But they also found that they got more money to keep once they'd covered the expense of doing or having done for them these chores. 

Now, we're seeing publishers calling themselves "hybrid" houses. It used to be that a hybrid author was one who'd published both independently and under contract to a publishing house. Now a hybrid publisher was one that will charge an author to do all the things the publisher had usually done. This "pay to publish" entity used to be called a "vanity press" and was looked down upon. Now it's got a new name, and a sense of legitimacy. 

Things are still changing. Agents are branching out. Hybrid publishers are springing up. And if you get a handle on it, check back next week--it will probably change.


Priscilla Bettis said...

I have an acquaintance that paid five thousand dollars to a hybrid publisher. There is no way she'll ever make that investment back. I'm kinda leery about hybrid publishers now.

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, there are undoubtedly trustworthy entities out there, but I'd consider carefully what they will and will not do, and what the final cost will be. Of course, all that could change. Stay tuned (and don't fall in love with seeing your name on a cover--it's not worth it).

Patricia Bradley said...

I hate it when I see writers taken advantage of...That said I had a friend who wanted to do a memoir and found a small press. What should have been relatively inexpensive became costly because she had at least thirty color photos she wanted in the book. But she was happy and didn't mind what it cost--the small press only passed on their costs, but each book probably cost $20 to print.

Richard Mabry said...

It may have been worth it to her just to get the book published, I guess. But "buyer beware" remains the motto for most authors.