Who’s Who in the Publishing World

They say everyone has a book in them. Who knows if it’s true, but the publishing industry works on the premise that there are people out there who have a book in them, and there will be enough people to read the book that it is worth publishing.

The industry is structured and so understanding how it is structured will help anyone aspiring to get in.


At the lower end of the pyramid are the writers. If truly everyone has a book in them, this pool is the size of humanity. It is not the most comfortable place to be. There are hundreds of thousands who want to be the next whoever is next. Getting noticed, getting found and published is almost as hard as the writing.

But this is the raw material and it is one of two pillars.


There are more of these than there are writers, though the number is theoretically the same. Readers are the other pillar of the industry. As long as people go on reading, writers will continue to write. And stop to think about that for a moment, how could we all stop?


Don’t be tempted to see agents as middlemen if you’re a writer. A good agent will make all the difference. A good agent is your friend. A good agent is tied into the industry in ways you’re not. A good agent will know which publisher’s door to knock on with your masterpiece.

Those in the know say you should research your agent more closely than the publishers. There is a symbiotic relationship between writer and agent, a mutual need. It is not a need that exists between an unknown writer and a well know publisher.

If you have an agent, as a writer you have someone on your side.


In this model, it is the publisher who has all the power, and they do to an extent because they have the money. In the past, they also had the say in who was published and who not.

To a great extent they still do, but the internet has taken the edge off their omnipotence and there is a definite shakedown happening in the industry at the top. (Perhaps that’s caused by mnega companies named after large rivers.)

But were a publisher to be interested in a writer, there are few who would say no.

The Internet

This is the rogue factor in the publishing industry. It provides different ways for a writer to get an audience. It has the power to flip the relationship between publisher and writer because a writer with an audience doesn’t need a publisher.

The best-selling author

Right at the top of the totem pole is the best seller; the writer who has an audience waiting for their next book to drop. They are the one who everyone wants to read, the one who gets on the talk show, the writer who embodies the dream.