The Publishing World is Facing the Challenge of a Lifetime

Publishing is an odd industry. Lest we forget the goal of the publishing industry is to make money. The publishing industry wants to produce books, papers and magazines which we, the people who read, pay for.

To the publishing industry, it doesn’t really matter if we read it or not. The essential transaction for them is that we pay for it. In some ways, the fact we don’t read all the books stacked by the bed is to the publishing industry’s advantage. We have paid for it, the lower it gets the less likely we are to read it and the more likely they are to produce something else which we might read instead. And we paid for that too.

This is not cynicism

The above paragraphs are not meant to be derisive they are meant to be a reminder. A publisher might specialize in a certain book type, they may try to publish only good books and never a pot-boiler, but it is about money. It’s how they pay people, how they do the marketing to get a book to number one on the bestseller list and how the whole industry functions.

There is a flip side to the coin, if you can persuade a publisher you will make them some money, they will be interested in you. All you have to do is demonstrate your idea and concept has cash written all over it, and you’re in.

It used to be a cozy world

It used to be there were publishers who held all the power. Then along came agents who helped people get into the publishers and then there were authors. The agent was the author’s friend. The agent actually needed the author. Without the author, the agent didn’t have anything to do.

The concept got a wannabe author was to find an agent, the agent would find a publisher and then the book would be printed.

But it isn’t any longer

Then along came the internet and everything changed.

First of all, reading changed. There was a new kid on the block. We were now going to read books on special electronic devices and our phones. No one needed a book with covers and a spine anymore.

Except it didn’t quite work out like that, we still continued to buy books.

Then there came the possibility of taking the internet and publishing yourself. Some authors were able to make a living doing that. There even came a time where a publishing house offered to make a deal that only contained the print version and not the e-version. It was a sea change because someone other than a publisher had a little bit of the power because money was going in another direction.

Getting into publishing

It is still a hard world to break into. There’s so much a newbie doesn’t know and worse, doesn’t know they don’t know. But it is changing and that creates opportunity.