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Old 08-28-2010, 12:55 PM   #1
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Guardian: Publishers respond to "who needs a publisher?" article

There was an article in the Grauniad the other day by Ray Connolly called "Who needs publishers?"

Today, there is this response. I didn't find it convincing; I think that they missed the biggest benefit of publishers - that of being properly edited and proofed.
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:09 PM   #2
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Quote:
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There was an article in the Grauniad the other day by Ray Connolly called "Who needs publishers?"

Today, there is this response. I didn't find it convincing; I think that they missed the biggest benefit of publishers - that of being properly edited and proofed.
Maybe because that "biggest benefit" hasn't shown for a long while, particularly in the digital publishing field.
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Old 08-28-2010, 02:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ben Thornton View Post
There was an article in the Grauniad the other day by Ray Connolly called "Who needs publishers?"

Today, there is this response. I didn't find it convincing; I think that they missed the biggest benefit of publishers - that of being properly edited and proofed.
They mentioned "editorial input" which seems to me to be the most important thing. This probably inludes being edited and proofed. But proofing something anybody can do. It is the editorial input that is important.
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Old 08-28-2010, 03:29 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ben Thornton View Post
There was an article in the Grauniad the other day by Ray Connolly called "Who needs publishers?"

Today, there is this response. I didn't find it convincing; I think that they missed the biggest benefit of publishers - that of being properly edited and proofed.
Ha. I haven't read a new book (either paper or e) for years that hasn't had lots of mistakes in it. I think in-house proof readers were the first to be made redundant when times got hard. That sort of thing is left to the writer to send out pre-release copies to fans, something they could easily do on their own.

They can open doors for you with paper books, but the only real advantage of publishers with ebooks is to take away some of the effort. There isn't anything you couldn't either do yourself or hire a freelancer to do. Certainly nothing that would make it worth giving away 90% of your income and being tied down for years.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:05 AM   #5
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I didn't find the response to be convincing either. For starters, she says that publishers have embraced digital publishing from the get go with both new and backlist titles.

I just don't think that that is true. I was quite surprised to find a couple of weeks ago that of the 80 Perry Mason stories, not a single one is available legitimately as an eBook.
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:38 AM   #6
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Uh, yeah, talk about phoning it in. That was the best they could come up with?

All the response does is reiterate the services that publishers theoretically provide, such as editing, proofing, editorial "input", marketing and publicity. As others have already pointed out, an author can purchase the editing & marketing services for himself, and whether a mid-list author actually receives a healthy dose of these from a publisher is questionable. Certainly, the industry's publishing of back-list books so far shows little editing/proofing or marketing. They are simply scanning old books and throwing them up on the web to make an easy buck--in many cases, without even a cursory read-through of the OCR'd output.

The other points she makes are laughable. She offers up DRM technology and legal services in the case of copyright infringement as huge favors to the author, when they are really about protecting the income of the publisher. The "proper remuneration" remark is just stupid. All she is saying is that publishers are forcing higher prices for ebooks, which does not necessarily mean more income for the author, as a) he may well sell fewer books at those inflated prices, and b) most of the take goes to the publisher.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but sheesh, that article had the opportunity to come up with some viable arguments for using a publisher in the digital age, and instead, the points given were old, tired, and untrue. What a waste of digital space.

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Old 08-29-2010, 02:03 AM   #7
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She is right on some parts.

If the debut I am thinking about is from Pantheon or Orbit or Gollancz, I would more inclined to buy it. Some editors are doing good things. And if I see a new fantasy series from Tor, I would know not to buy it without reading some reviews from reviewers I trust.
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:28 AM   #8
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What do people mean by "editing" here? Is working with the author and developing the authors skill included?

What you cannot buy if self publishing is an option is editing that you have to accept.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:17 AM   #9
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Surely a good publisher/editor would include services such as nurturing for authors as well as to provide critical appraisal which would highlight the need for improved phraseology as well as picking up on obvious hoohaas ?
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Old 08-29-2010, 07:08 AM   #10
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Surely a good publisher/editor would include services such as nurturing for authors as well as to provide critical appraisal which would highlight the need for improved phraseology as well as picking up on obvious hoohaas ?
I doubt anyone who wasn't already word perfect would be picked up by a publisher these days. Not unless they were the latest Sleb.
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Old 08-29-2010, 07:11 AM   #11
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I doubt anyone who wasn't already word perfect would be picked up by a publisher these days. Not unless they were the latest Sleb.
word perfect doesn't necessarily mean that the novel wouldn't benefit from an experienced editor to help 'tighten' it up.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:36 AM   #12
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I doubt anyone who wasn't already word perfect would be picked up by a publisher these days. Not unless they were the latest Sleb.
You are wrong. They are looking for "voice". Spelling can be fixed. Lack of "voice" cannot be fixed. A lot of published successful authors are dyslectic.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:49 AM   #13
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When you submit a manuscript to a publisher it has to be as perfect as you can make it. Gone are the days when a publisher will nurture a new writer. I have three published books with two publishers, one from Avalon Books, a print publisher, and two from The Wild Rose Press, an epub. Once they accepted my manuscripts, the editors and I worked to edit the book and make it better. Usually my grammar and punctuation are good. The editing mostly was about tightening up the story to make it flow better and to quicken the pacing. I recently got the rights back from Wild Rose for my romantic suspense, "Logan's Redemption." I went through the entire book again and edited parts I thought could be better. Then I put it up on Kindle. Editing is important. You need someone to look over your work. As an author you get too close to your story and miss things that either don't move the story along or muddle it. Editing is necesssary either by your publisher or if you pay someone to professionally edit your manuscript.

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Old 08-29-2010, 10:56 AM   #14
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In addition to being an author, I'm also a freelance fiction editor, and I still pay another editor to proof my work before it goes out to a publisher or to Kindle. Even that sometimes is not enough. One editor usually can't find everything. Especially with fiction, which readers tend to get caught up in, if it's a good story. Editing is essential, and once is not enough.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:24 PM   #15
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Surely a good publisher/editor would include services such as nurturing for authors as well as to provide critical appraisal which would highlight the need for improved phraseology as well as picking up on obvious hoohaas ?
Exactly. I doubt authors can buy that as a service or that they afford it if it is possible to buy it.
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