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How those publishing roles have changed

In the good ol’ days, an author would sell his or her book to a publisher (often with the help of an agent) and  expect that the material s/he delivered would be edited by his/her editor and that the publisher would then publicize, advertise  and sell the book to the best of its ability.  Up until about ten years ago, all of these things did happen in for the most part – with some editors being far more hands on and some publishers being much stronger in publicizing, advertising and promoting the books on their list.

Authors  today are discovering that all of the roles have changed, and rather dramatically.  Agents often have to act as editors, authors have to be their own publicists and promoters, editors act as the overall publishers.  It is no longer enough that an author has written a strong proposal or a terrific manuscript –s/he must have a substantial platform and very solid credentials to be published.

All of this can be fairly depressing, especially for the author.  Recently though, I discovered this very clever piece which I think says it all, and I thought, “Well, at least we can laugh about it.”

I guess in the end, as with everything else, change is inevitable.  Over this last decade, authors and everyone else involved in the publishing process seem to be adapting to these  new roles and for the most part, making them work.  And so we proceed….

I wonder how you are feeling about your new role in the publishing process?  Have you noticed the changes?  Are you affected by them?

2 Responses to How those publishing roles have changed

  1. Emily says:

    Great article! At the independent publishing house where I work, Medallion Press, the editors are privileged enough to work closely with the texts and collaborate with talented agents and authors. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

  2. Lance Parkin says:

    I think the question to ask is: in an environment where authors are expected to deliver a complete, fully-edited book and do their own marketing … what are traditional publishers doing to earn their money? And why are contracts seemingly *less* generous than they used to be? With publishers cutting advances, print runs and hoping that readers will opt for the ebook if they can’t find a physical copy, they’re not even taking on much financial risk.

    I see the point of agents in the new order. Authors need them to navigate the waters, to make sure they’re not signing away the important stuff. Isn’t the point coming, and soon, though, where authors and their agents will just cut out the middleman and deal with Amazon directly?

    I’ve been very lucky with my Alan Moore biography. Good editor, great marketing effort, some fantastic design. And I’m sure with every other book there’s effort going on that I’ve not seen. My experience, though, has often been that the hardest fights my editors have, the most zealously guarded gateways, always seem to be *internal*, at the publisher they work for.

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