Ten Changes We’ve Seen in Book Publishing
April 11, 2013
1. In the past, most authors worked for editors. Today, most editors work for authors.
2. Most books went from author to agent to publisher to distributor to bookseller to reader. Now, more and more go from author to distributor to reader, cutting out most middlemen.
3. To be commercially viable, books had to sell enough copies to finance a big publishing apparatus. Now, many need to pay only one person: the author.
4. Agents and editors acted as gatekeepers, ensuring that poorly written books did not get published. Now, it’s the authors’ responsibility to ensure their books are as good as they can make them.
5. When books were printed, wordcounts were critical. Nowadays with ebooks, lengths are flexible; only quality counts.
6. Once a book was published, it was too late to correct errors, change the cover or tweak the blurb; any improvements had to wait until the print run had sold out. With ebooks, anything can be changed any time.
7. Many publishers prevented communication between readers and authors. Today, direct reader-author communication is encouraged because it sells books.
8. Mixing genres used to make a book impossible to sell. Today, genre cross-overs sell just fine.
9. Writers used to spend much time courting agents. Now they spend much time courting readers.
10. ‘Previously published’ used to lessen the value of a story. Nowadays, it’s a quality mark.