A bit of a contretemps over a leaked document at Digital Book World illustrates the divide between what publishers think they offer — support, backing, quality assurance, marketing — and what self-publishers think traditional publishers bring to the table.
Prepared by Hachette as part of a presentation for agents, the document enumerates the publisher’s roles as it sees them:
- Curator: We find and nurture talent
- Venture Capitalist: We fund the author’s writing process
- Sales and Distribution Specialist: We ensure widest possible audience
- Brand Builder and Copyright Watchdog: We build author brands and protect their intellectual property
Shortly after the document began circulating, outspoken self-published authors J.A. Kornrath and Barry Eisler responded by “fisking” the document, i.e., deconstructing it line-by-line.
Konrath also shared this advice for publishers with Digital Book World’s Jeremy Greenfield:
Publishers should stop trying to convince themselves and others that they’re relevant, and start actually being relevant. Here’s how:
- Offer much better royalties to authors.
- Release titles faster. It can take 18 months after a book is turned in to be published. I can do it myself in a week.
- Use up-to-date accounting methods that are trackable by the author, and pay royalties monthly.
- Lower e-book prices.
- Stop futilely fighting piracy.
- Start marketing effectively. Ads and catalogue copy aren’t enough. Neither is your imprint’s Twitter feed.