The dream for many aspiring writers is to be picked up by a major publisher. This is often seen as the key to international distribution and being able to attain a fat advance in order to write a single or series of books. According to a recent report, there are many problems with traditional publishing and is driving authors to self-publish instead.
One of the big problems in the traditional publishing industry is that the major publishers simply don’t have time to talk to their authors. They are more concerned hyping up the next big novel and making sure the business is making money.
The average traditionally published author has found it difficult to love their publisher. A recent survey conducted by Harry Bingham and Jane Friedman polled 812 writers in the UK and US. It found that 75% of responding authors said they have never been asked for feedback from their publisher and 28% said communication from their publisher before, during, and after publication was inconsistent, confusing or always poor.
Why aren’t publishers talking with their authors? Writer Sara Sheridan basically spelled it all out. “Authors are 100% invested in the book [they have] written”, while an “editor has a stable of books coming out in the same month or season and the reality is that they only need one or two of those books to make it big”. She added: “Corporate publishers are engaged in a kind of intellectual property gambling. In this environment, your precious book is less important to them than it is to you.”
Harry Bingham who was one of the organizers of the poll lamented “It’s odd, isn’t it? You buy a book from Amazon and it’ll ask you to rate the packaging. You publish a book with a major publishing house . . . and no one asks you to rate anything. According to our stats, 74% of authors aren’t asked to give feedback at all, while only 16% felt that they were asked for feedback in a manner which allowed them “to communicate freely”. That’s not very good, is it? When we looked only at the responses from authors on larger advances, the pattern of responses was essentially identical.”
Is the clear lack of communication driving authors away from traditionally publishing and instead electing to self-publish? There has been an exodus of authors in the last few years that have successfully branched out to having control of their own destiny and reaping financial rewards. It takes a special type of person to have success in this arena. You have to be motivated to succeed, while others need an agent, or editor berating them to meet deadlines.
If one thing is clear. Publishing companies aren’t interacting with your average author, they simply have too many things on their minds
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.