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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Dirty Secret of the Traditional Publishing World

More on the changing (or leveling) of the traditional publishing industry...

When lenders charge exorbitant interest and fees it's called "usury"...What do they call it when a business (in this case traditional publishing) takes a usurious percentage of the profits?

"Immoral" is the best word I can think of...even if the usurious division of profits is technically legal...it is still immoral and, to me, "legal theft". Talk about a redistribution of wealth!

Traditional publishing has been taking advantage of writers and authors almost since it's inception and is guilty of usurious practices. When the administrative and purely business processes of getting a creative product to market makes more than the creation itself...something is drastically wrong...AND, publishers want the writers to do their own marketing/publicity at their own expense! BALDERDASH!

Effective marketing was the single thing that the old-timer publishers did that half-way made their expense worthwhile...When they relinquished that (except in some cases for already established authors), they became more or less impotent... and it was just a matter of time before their over-priced house-of-cards would fall.

This report is by Moe Zilla from Helium :

It's already happening. Instead of buying books, people are now buying something else: digital e-books. Amazon.com recently announced that they're selling many more e-books than they are of the traditional hardcover print editions. And this is great news for aspiring authors, because in the digital world, it's much easier to get your book published! But it's also going to bring a lot of big changes to the world of professional book publishing.

The dirty secret of the traditional publishing world is that most book authors don't make much money now! The "advance" they're given is just that - their publisher will then keep thousands of dollars from the book's profits until they've earned back all the money that they advanced the author to write it. But in addition, many publishers expect writers to use that advance money to line up their own publicity! (After all, the writer has to ensure that their book sales are high - so the publishers will want to publish their books again...) And even with all that, most professional authors earn less than $20,000 for their books. If you think about it, that's less than you could earn at almost any regular 40-hour a week job.

In the past, writers just had to accept this sorry state of events - but with digital publishing, they now have a very attractive option! In fact, the worst feature of a traditional publishing house is that most authors only earn a small part of the book's cover price. Some of it is eaten up by the cost to print the book, but a large chunk goes to the publishing house, with the writer getting whatever's left. Self-publishing allows these writers to bypass that publishing bureaucracy altogether, and keep more of the money for themselves!

Of course, most publishers also lose money on most of the books that they publish, so there's also ways that they could benefit from digital publishing. The biggest improvement would be the elimination of most printing costs. (If they misjudge the popularity of a new title, they won't lose the tens of thousands of dollars that it cost them to print it!) And I've heard some publishers simply locate the most popular e-books - and then offer those authors a chance to sell those same books with hard covers.

Publishing will definitely change in the digital age, but there will always be a place for the traditional hardcover book. For example, I'm not sure people want to prop their Kindle up in the kitchen so they can squint at a Kindle cookbook and try deciphering all of its ingredients!
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