Is The Publishing Industry Broken?
By: Jorge Salgado
I’m a reader of good books. In my life I must have read thousands of books, ever since I was about ten or eleven years of age. I devoured books, often at a single sitting, mostly science fiction but also fantasy, horror and thrillers.
I’m fairly new to the writing game. However in 2011, I was invited to collaborate on a professional book about process serving and I researched how to publish it the easiest and best way possible. Doing that research really paid off because I discovered certain things about the publishing industry.
There are three types of publishers out there, legacy or traditional, self-publishers and vanity publishers.
In the late part of 2007, Amazon introduced the Kindle, before that, the only viable means of book distribution was paper. So if a writer wanted to reach a mass audience and more importantly respect as an author, they needed a paper distribution partner ie a publisher. A writer wasn’t an author unless they had a signed publishing deal with an advance payment. Sure a writer could hire his own editor and his own cover design artist; he could even hire a printing press to create the actual books. The one service he couldn't hire out was distribution. And publishers didn't offer distribution as an à la carte service. If a writer wanted distribution, he had to pay a publisher up to 85% of his revenues for the entire publishing package: editorial, copyediting, proofreading, jacket design, printing, and marketing, all bundled with distribution.
But getting a deal with a publisher wasn’t easy and it’s even harder today. We all hear about how getting signed by one of the big legacy publishers is almost impossible. Some of the issues sited are that they won’t accept un-agented submissions, won’t sign on (take a risk on) unknown authors and even if they did, they won’t spend money on publicity for their book and the book would probably take at least three years to be published.
Traditional publishers tend to concentrate on those authors with an established platform or a famous author with a pre-existing audience. But is that the only model?
Well there are also the Vanity Publishers who take money from authors whose book doesn’t really deserve to be published. It’s virtually impossible for a submission to be rejected, book covers are designed by the numbers and the only promotion that goes on is targeted towards the author’s friends and family. This is a big no-no as far as I am concerned.
Finally there is the self-published!
When Amazon stormed the publishing industry gates, they almost destroyed the legacy publishers who until then were the gate-keepers and guardians of high quality books who believe that publishing is a meritocracy where the best work by the most diligent writers gets represented, acquired, published and sold.
But there have been many successful self-published authors who sell millions of books. Some of them have gone on to sign significant contracts with major publishing houses such as Amanda Hocking, John Locke and E. L. James.
On the other hand, there are a lot of self-published authors who won’t spend any money on the minimum effort required on editing, book cover artists or publicity themselves leaving their books, in my humble opinion, unreadable.
So what should we do? Write, write and then write some more. Writing is a journey that allows the writer to develop their skills. As with any profession, one must practice to be good at it. It is self-evident that the self-published author must do more than simply write. He must write better than anyone else.
There is a process to self-publishing that is not at first evident; you can of course just publish electronically but early on I realised that I wanted to produce a physical book. Print on Demand came along. If you have a contract with a printer like Lightning Source for example and set yourself up as a small press, you can publish hardbacks, paperbacks and of course electronic editions of your books.
You will still need to pay for editors, proof-readers and book cover artists but you retain up to 70% of the sales which is a hell of a lot more than you would get from a legacy publisher.Is the publishing industry broken? No it’s just walking a little bit funny these days.
Jorge came up through the ranks in various high street retail stores until he became a Security Manager for a leading high street book seller and then various roles as a Senior Retail Loss Prevention Investigator at a national level.
In April 2006, after seventeen years in retail fraud investigations, he started his own private investigator agency, Allied Detectives & Salgado Investigations specialising in corporate investigations, surveillance, process serving and tracing. Jorge is a founder member of e-LEGAL | Gathering, an online discussion forum for private investigators. Jorge has a Edexcel BTEC Advanced Private Investigation Level 3 Diploma and a BTEC award in Investigative Interviewing. He is currently serving on WAPI's Governing Council in Electronic Media, after having served as General Secretary for a year, and is a member of the Federation of Small Businesses.
Jorge has also co-authored a guide called British Process Servers Guide. Jorge is currently working on his novel The Smoke in Death’s Eye and is planning a series of books,The Zen of Shoplifting & The Zen of Sleuthing. He also enjoys writing poetry (his works can be found in the poetry section of his writing forum www.salgado-reyes.com) and is an amateur photographer.
Jorge's Author Site: Jorge Salgado-Reyes
Jorge on Twitter: @J_SalgadoReyes