Monday, September 12, 2022

Bar Talk

 Q: Tell us the things you hate/find frustrating about the publishing industry; and finish by telling us one thing you love about it.


- from Susan


It’s a bit tricky to talk about what bothers me since I have a traditional publishing house. I am happy to be with them. If I diss my (wonderful) publisher now, that’s sticky, right? So, stepping back to the widest lens…


The large scale, industry-wide, rapidly changing, applicable to trad and self-publishing authors topic of distribution and sales is always frustrating. 


·      Does your publisher have a sales rep to visit stores/chains to talk up your book and encourage stores to order?


·      Does your publisher work with one of the 2-3 national distribution companies that can send books anywhere in quick time once they’re ordered?


·      Does your publisher offer whatever the current industry-wide discounts and return policies, without which most stores now will sit on their hands?


·      Does your publisher participate in the process whereby they pay for good placement in the stores?


·      Does your publisher advertise your book, maintain a robust social media presence and give you visibility on it?


·      Does your publisher make ARCs widely available in print and digitally?


If your publisher doesn’t have any or all of those systems in place and therefore Amazon and/or personal appearances are necessary for you to sell books, make a name for yourself, and earn royalties, you may stumble intro a new set of problems. I happen to love my “home” bookstore, so, again, I don’t want to aim a criticism at them. I need them.


·      Do the bookstores you count on refuse to stock your book because it’s offered on Amazon, their arch enemy?


·      Do the bookstores you count on make you pay to have an event, where you also have to cart in your books and cart out any that don’t sell right then?


·      If a would-be customer asks for it, will your bookstore order your book from you or your publisher?


Another issue some authors have is paying agents 15% of their revenues. I don’t. My agent works hard for what is - coming from a mid-list author – not much. She hopes my next book with be a break-out one and I treasure her optimism!


And, there’s more. Get a group of us together at the bar at Left Coast Crime or Bouchercon and you’ll get an earful. But if someone outside of the biz asks us why we don’t just pack it in, there will be a puzzled silence. Stop writing? What a foolish idea! What compares with seeing your book sitting in a store, on the new book shelf in the library, stacked on a table waiting for you to sign them? 



Dietrich Kalteis said...

Too true, Susan. Not much compares with the thrill of seeing our latest books in print. And yes, there's always the thought that the next one will be the breakout novel.

Gabriel Valjan said...

All excellent points. I did experience problems around ARCs in time for blurbs, but the best solution there was to push out the Pub Date. The Distribution and Visibility issues (re: Amzn as nemesis) are quite real, and the author is often collateral damage in that war.

James W. Ziskin said...

Great post, Susan. You mentioned a few questions I never thought to ask. Thank you!


Terry said...

What a great list. I'm going to keep it at hand, just for reference. What I always sort of laugh about is that everyone always says the publishing industry is going through a tough time. It's ALWAYS going through a tough time. But publishers get our books out there, and that's what counts.

Catriona McPherson said...

Nicely done, Susan - and very useful, Cx