Are There 5 Reasons to Stick With Major Publishers? No, There Are Zero Reasons
A HuffPost blogger with expertise in publishing suggests there are still 5 reasons to get a deal with a New York publisher: partnership; quality; legitimacy; distribution; and advances.
Respectfully, there aren't five reasons to go with New York. Actually, there are zero reasons.
If they can't do a good job with Hillary Clinton's new book, and that release is generally viewed as a flop, why would they do any better with a book written by a mere mortal?
Let's look at each of the five reasons and see if the arguments hold up. (Spoiler alert: they don't.)
1. Partnership. Um, really? What kind of "partner" gets 85 to 90 percent of the pie, and has a long, sorry history of illicitly keeping much of the rest? Yes, the editorial staffs work hard to create well-edited books. But otherwise, what exactly does a New York publisher do? They don't do marketing or even share their marketing expertise with authors. Publication of books is delayed as much as a year after they're completed, by which time the information in the book may no longer be useful, current or actionable for readers. And editors get fired so often these days that they often aren't even around when a book they edited gets published.
2. Quality. No. New York publishers only care about the marketing plan for a book, not the contents. If Author A has great content but only no national footprint or large social media following, and Author B has recycled content he "borrowed" from other authors but a million Twitter followers, guess who gets the deal. The New York publishers are essentially running a scam on readers, by publishing third-rate books with first-rate media platforms, which is why book readers are an endangered species.
3. Legitimacy. This used to be true but is no longer the case. As a ghostwriter, I constantly hear from my clients, "But in MY field, I need the legitimacy of a major publisher." It's not legitimacy; it's an ego trip for the author, a pat on the head from a bunch of smart people in New York City. Here's why: if I made a list of ten publishers, of which five were imprints of the major houses and five were names I made up, most non-publishing industry could never tell which was which. It's an ego trip pure and simple.
4. Distribution. Excuse me, but there's this thing called "Amazon"...it distributes every book in the world...every minute of the day. Distribution from a New York publisher means that your book will be in some Barnes & Nobles -- not all, just some -- for about four to six weeks, before it is returned for a full refund and replaced by more books from the same publishing house. Which means that an author must hope that enough people in his or her niche audience will wander into the right B&Ns during that brief window, find that book among the 99,999 other titles and buy it, to justify "distribution" lasting longer than, say, Brazil in the World Cup. Sorry. If you link your website or social media to your book's Amazon page, you will have better distribution than any author in the history of mankind.
5. Advances. Here's how advances work: some authors will get big ones, but not you. Why? Because advances only go to authors who have (all together, class) big social media presences, national media footprints or their own TV shows. Dr. Phil, who looks like he's 60 pounds overweight, got a diet book. That tells you all you need to know about who gets big advances. Again, as a ghostwriter, I've seen publishers offer some A-level celebs and business leaders advances of zero to $5,000. And they took those deals. Get me drunk and I'll tell you who they are.
So there you have it. Five reasons not to bother with New York publishers. And very quickly, 5 reasons to self-publish: immediacy (the book comes out when it's finished, not next year); money (you keep half with Amazon); honesty (you get every dollar you're entitled to without having to turn to "publishing forensic accountants," and yes, they exist, to get what's yours); control (you choose the cover, the interior design, the interior artwork, the sale price and everything else); and integrity (if you work with a legit indy publisher, ghostwriter or book shepherd).
New York is great for Broadway shows and Circle Line tours. But for getting your book published today? Not so much.
Michael Levin blogs at The Future of Publishing. You can ‘like’ his company's page on Facebook here.
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