What would you change in this industry?


#1

Let’s imagine you want to publish a book. What innovative and creative things would you like a publishing house to have?


#2

Contracts that are fair to writers.

Distribution and marketing that I can’t do myself.


#3

I want to live in a world where vanity publishing is honest and true hybird publishing that gives fair prices and actually offers services to help authors that they can’t do for themselves and doesn’t scam people out of their money.


#4

Higher royalties.

Greater transparency of the financials.

Faster speed to market.

More allowance for an author’s creative input in book cover design.

Contracts that allow authors to retain more future rights to their books, or that expire conditionally (so authors don’t need to buy them back).

Greater “push” in marketing new authors.

Ebooks that don’t cost as much as a paperback.


#5

No returns.


#6

i think its weird how authors make so little compared to the publishing houses.

as long as your book sells decently, it is fair for you to be able to make a living off it yet this isn’t something that is happening


#7

I totally agree with all of you. It’s very unfair. The writer has all the work and they receive very little for it. That’s why I have the dream of creating a publishing house with more benefits for the writers


#8

As long as the economy is geared towards maximising profits and marginalising “soft skills” (everything not technical) writers will continue to be badly paid. Somebody said to me in a discussion recently. You only write. That’s imagination “stuff”. Who needs that.
Indeed.
Who needs dreams when we can all be functioning all the time.


#9

And yet every other cog in the publishing machine expects to make a full-time living wage from their role in the process - the artists, the editors, the marketing team, the sales team. But apparently the writer - the one, absolutely indispensable aspect of that particular book that this house has chosen to put forth based on its unique merits - should not be compensated with a living wage (usually). Yeah, I think that’s a ridiculous narrative . . . especially with the big houses based in NY city and paying millions each month to rent their offices in glamour properties like the flatiron building. If you think the contents of all books are interchangeable and you could just have easily chosen another author with the same results then you shouldn’t be in the business of selling books.

If I could change anything about trad publishing - outside of the ridiculous compensation system and rights grabs and the lack of support for most writers after they’ve published - it would be the asinine query system. You need filters to keep out the dross? Fine. You need gatekeepers? Fine. But the query system itself is fundamentally flawed. Most books never get their first pages read, immediately discarded because their story doesn’t distill down nicely into a hooky pitch. Successful queries have . . . I guess you could say gimmicks. Something different (or something that the agent thinks will tap into the current zeitgeist). Writing and plot and characters determine whether a book is good or not . . . and that’s the kind of thing you can only tell if you . . . I don’t know . . . actually read the book, or at least a part of it, rather than relying on an elevator blurb to convince you. Not to mention the arrogance of agents not even responding to queries, or waiting 6 months to reply like you’re a peasant waiting in an antechamber to see the queen (and you’ll likely just get your head chopped off when she does deign to let you come in).

Yeah. The query system is ridiculous and horrible.


#10

This made me laugh. Yeah, you’re right. Antechamber to the Queen indeed.
I found my publisher the trad way, but they are not big five and I’m glad about that.
I don’t have the time yet to self-pub but in a year or so I will have.
Then I can stop participating in that “asinine” system that gets me responses like this one.
“Like the premesis. Like your voice. But it’s not #ownvoices, so we can’t take it.”
Okay, the person was trying to be helpful. But so sorry if I don’t fit the trend. Diversity is good. Excellent in fact.
Ownvoices is good. Even more excellent. But both seem to have become an obsession, a mantra expected to carry publishers into the ether.
Bollocks to that.


#11

Oh boy, don’t get me started. That was the topic that started a real argument around here :stuck_out_tongue:


#12

Shaking my head. I can’t believe that person had the nerve to tell you that. I would’ve probably slap them and walk away.

You said the economy is geared towards maximising profits and that’s true. But some publishing houses don’t seem to know how to develop relationships with the writers nor how to sell books properly. The marketing in some publishing houses is very weak, especially when it comes to book covers. Some of them design non-appealing covers because they think that doesn’t matter but unfortunately people still ‘judge a book by its cover’. Some of them don’t even know how to create a proper synopsis for the book. It’s just terrible. They don’t let writers have their own opinions…


#13

We were just talking about this in my writer slack group. Not only are the covers not great, but they’re not even putting in the effort they used to. This is the cover of a major fantasy release - the author got a six-figure advance, and they got all kinds of hype in the fantasy community:

Then the writer in my Slack group was browsing stock images for an ad he was setting up and came across this:

The cover is taken from the stock image! How lame is that? An easy way to save a few thousand dollars, but can you really expect a publishing house to pay for a lot of marketing for your book if they won’t even shell out for a unique cover that represents your book?

Here’s the cover of my most recent book. I paid for original fantasy art.

The painting itself was 1300 USD, and the lettering (I like having a specialist do the lettering, as I think they generally do a much better job) was 500. Expensive for an indie? Extremely. (The book made back the cover cost 5x over the first month, so it was a reasonable investment). Anyway, my point is that at 1800 USD I felt I got a unique, interesting cover that depicts a scene from the book. Was 2k too much for Orbit? They had to resort to stock images for their cover? Pretty lame. I don’t want penny-pinchers in charge of selling my book.


#14

Nepotism in the industry. Literary agents and publishing houses that profess their supposed liberalism, yet act as arrogant and greedy as any conservative Republican you could find out there.


#15

i do hope that more and more publishers will allow for unsolicited works from foreigners.
i mean…its fine if u live in the states but how do u expect someone, like from asia to contact a lit agent?


#16

You email them. Geographic location is no barrier and agents take email submissions from all over the world. I’m in New Zealand at the bottom of the globe and had no issue querying American agents and ended up with a contract offer from a US publisher.


#17

yes but how do u even know how to get a list, who is good…ect…ect?it is much more difficult for us compared to those who are in the states


#18

As @AWExley says, geo spread is not a blocking issue. I live in Germany and got a US publisher. Look at Querytracker for example or you can participate in Pitmad. for my second series I’ll try UK representation. Here the Yearbook of Artists and WRiters is an excellent source.


#19

Use querytracker.net like people in the US.

Living outside the US isn’t a barrier to working with a literary agent or publisher in the internet age. Previously it was, because postage was so expensive and the postal service was slow. Now where you live is pretty much irrelevant. Nothing is done in person, and even phone calls are a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of thing.


#20

I’m glad @iHateMilks asked this question because I also had that doubt. Thank you so much @XimeraGrey and @lhansenauthor !! This might’ve helped me a lot!