Why Book Publishers Hate Authors…

In a recent article by the Huffington Post, Michael Levin shed some light on the war between Publishers and Authors. Authors are an extremely flighty lot, and book Publishers just want to get their work done. So why do Book Publishers hate Authors?

“Authors are flaky: They promise to deliver a manuscript in April and it doesn’t come in until October. Or the following April. Or the April after that. This leaves publishers with several options, all of them bad: revise publishing schedules at the last minute; demand that authors turn in projects on time, regardless of quality; cancel books altogether; or sue the authors (as Penguin has begun to do) for undelivered or poor quality work.”

Of course Authors themselves are pretty prickly about their own work, but like anyone else in a career, they want to get paid. The publishers want to get good quality work but in order to do this authors need to submit their work on time but most authors tend to procrastinate and leave their work to the last minute, making publishers want to tear their hair out. The argument has escalated to the point that publishers use a BookScan to detect on whether or not a book will have a popular demand.

The three R’s of the publishing industry, the strategy for survival, quickly became “Reduce royalties and returns.” Returns are books that come back unsold from bookstores. Printing fewer copies typically ensures fewer returns. Reducing advances and royalties — money publishers pay writers — was the other main cost that publishers sought to slash.

And slash they did. More and more publishers moved to a minimal or even zero advance business model. They said to authors, “We’ll give you more of a back end on the book, and we’ll promote the heck out of your book. We’ll be partners.”

Some partners. Zero advance combined with zero marketing to produce… that’s right. Zero sales.

And then who caught the blame for the book’s failure? Not the publisher. The author.

So how do authors and publishers mend this? Well they CAN’T. And thats the point. Authors (Like ME) need to find a publisher that will stick with them even if the author in question makes them want to throw themselves off a bridge. Business is business no matter what.
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