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Do we still need publishers? Some thoughts from Anthony Horowitz

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annis
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Do we still need publishers? Some thoughts from Anthony Horowitz

Post by annis » Mon February 27th, 2012, 8:49 pm

At an event hosted by children's booksellers The Book People last week, Horowitz gave a talk questioning the role of the publisher in today's literary world.

Article here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl ... publishers

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wendy
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Post by wendy » Mon February 27th, 2012, 10:05 pm

[quote=""annis""]At an event hosted by children's booksellers The Book People last week, Horowitz gave a talk questioning the role of the publisher in today's literary world.

Article here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl ... publishers[/quote]

Horowitz raises some good points. And at the end of the day we do need some form of quality control to stay sane.
Personally, I love my agent and my editor, who are both worth their weight in
fees!
Wendy K. Perriman
Fire on Dark Water (Penguin, 2011)
http://www.wendyperriman.com
http://www.FireOnDarkWater.com

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SarahWoodbury
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Post by SarahWoodbury » Tue February 28th, 2012, 7:01 pm

You can pay a professional editor to edit your book. I did. Many of these editors used to work for the Big 6 and have been laid off.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Tue February 28th, 2012, 8:05 pm

As a consumer who has been reading a sizeable number of eBooks for over a year now, I don't feel like the big publishers are doing all that much better with quality control. Maybe they should consider hiring some of those editors back, because I'm noticing mistakes in bestselling books by the big six that should have been easily caught by a human reader. I do hold them to a higher standard than I do self-pubbed authors. If I'm going to pay a higher price ($9.99 or more) for a new eBook published by one of the big publishers, the least they can do is fix some of the formatting and typographical errors.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue February 28th, 2012, 9:13 pm

I was amused by the response on Twitter of @missdaisyfrost who's an industry insider with a wicked sense of humour and sharp perception: She said re the Horowitz article:
"Only a bestselling multi-millionaire author would dare write this piece."
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue February 28th, 2012, 11:32 pm

Interesting. As I've said elsewhere, what is needed in the new world is reliable curation, some way to sort through the quantity. It used to be the profit motive that did the job, as publishing was an expensive proposition no matter who did it. Now it isn't, and marketing the old way doesn't work.

Word of mouth (or keyboard) is where the sorting will happen, and it won't be by a few big reviewers, editors, or others. It will more and more be a function of 'the cloud', as the dh calls the algorithm of stats which Google, et al, use to figure out what a given individual likes. Amazon started it, with their 'recommended for you' feature, but it's getting sharper and sharper as the programmers refine things.

Also, books will have a much longer shelf life, virtually imperishable, I think. Notice how some old editions that were really good are being rediscovered here on this forum? Given time and opportunity, the best stuff will be found by more and more people, shaping the algorithm in their direction. Which doesn't work for the publishers, because they need to pay their people NOW.

It's a different world. The only answer is to write a story that is so right for your reader that they will have to talk about it to other readers like themselves. Which takes work and a good, harsh, savvy editor, whatever route you take.

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bevgray
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Post by bevgray » Wed February 29th, 2012, 1:28 pm

For the writer, MLE's point about shelf-life is one that is often overlooked in discussions of the benefit of the eBook's arrival. Even top listed authors were at the mercy of the remainder lists in the old pre-Internet days.

I worked part-time in a bookstore in the early to mid-90s. In the space of a few years, with the advent of Borders and Barnes and Nobles, smaller chain bookstores no longer were allowed to keep books on the shelf that weren't selling for more than a few weeks. I'll never forget my shock when a James Michener (I forget the title) came in, sat for three weeks, and then was remaindered because it didn't sell as expected.

A couple of years before a new author by the name of Grisham was given shelf space for a couple of months while his book, THE FIRM, was slow to take off. If Grisham had been published even two years later, he may not have been given the time he needed for that book to catch fire.

The eBook model will enable writers to keep their work out there while they build their readership. I don't think publishers will go away but it may be that they'll change their model as well. Perhaps the more savy will develop two or even three tiers of authors (i.e., a niche writer with limited broad commercial appeal might be placed in the publisher's "eBook only list") so that publishers might be willing to take more of a risk than they could before when there was only the print option available to them. These writers' works would not take up physical space nor would they have to prove themselves right away in order to justify the cost of printing them and marketing them to bookstores.

Certainly, the advent of the eBook provides a far greater range for readers as well as writers. My very dear friend has gone nuts over his Kindle. For him, it means he can search out topics and writers for himself instead of relying only on what makes it into the bookstores. He likes the idea that he can track down more obscure storylines that might not appeal to a large enough readership to warrant commercial publishing.
Beverly C. Gray
Army Brat and Lover of Historical Fiction
Guests are always welcome at my Web Site

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed February 29th, 2012, 4:11 pm

But back to the original question, why do we need publishers at all? If curation (sorting) can be done mathematically by the cloud, and it takes no investment to produce, ship and store the product (ebooks cost nothing, of course, and paper books can be printed on demand near the distribution point with very little effort for those who know how to use a template) then all they offer is an editor and book design.

It's not like those services aren't available without the big six. Besides, what a beginning author gets in the way of an editor might not be so wonderful as the much-praised editor in the article. Ditto cover art, copy-editing, and book design. I just read a book published by the big six which would make a self-pubber blush on both copy editing and line editing. And the cover stunk, too.

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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Wed February 29th, 2012, 5:21 pm

[quote=""MLE""]But back to the original question, why do we need publishers at all? If curation (sorting) can be done mathematically by the cloud, and it takes no investment to produce, ship and store the product (ebooks cost nothing, of course, and paper books can be printed on demand near the distribution point with very little effort for those who know how to use a template) then all they offer is an editor and book design. [/quote]

I'm not a fan of traditional publishing (although, I'm pursuing that route as well as indie publishing), but they do provide some services that indies are neglecting--metadata. For every kind of publication of a particular title (hardback, trade paper, mass market, audio, large print, ebook for all the various formats) the publishers (whether trad or indie) should be providing metadata. Producing metadata takes time and accuracy to be effective. That's how people do/will find books in "the cloud" and on online book sites. I read an interesting study a couple of weeks ago that showed the availability of accurate metadata was more important than any other marketing effort including reviews. (I thought I bookmarked the article, but can't find it now. Google "metadata" and "publishing" and there are a ton of good articles on how to and importance. Here's one I found very useful: http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/07/metada ... -save.html)

The upshot? Indies can do/hire all the work (copy edit, cover and interior design, etc.) but they have to go outside their comfort zone and use skills that may not be their strengths. Personally I love to learn new stuff and find this kind of thing an interesting challenge, but not every one does.
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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The Czar
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Post by The Czar » Thu March 1st, 2012, 1:29 pm

I find the "digital age" of books exciting. No more will the writer, and therefore the reader, be at the mercy of what the publisher thinks will sell.

I hope it will encourage authors to take more risks, rather than just write the same book over and over again.

I think the same has happened in the music industry, only they are furhter along in the process. As a result, there are fewer "mega sellers" but everyone can find little things they love if they put in the effort.

As for quality control, I have not been terribly impressed with the CC of big publishers in the electronic format to this point. They are not doing especially better than self publishers in that regard. Certainly not enough better to justify the 3x difference in price.
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.
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