Sunday, May 01, 2005

What does a publisher do for an author? Pt. III

Thoughts on this question filled my brain yesterday. I had an event in Georgia and spent some time talking to the bookseller, an independent who knows a lot about the book world. She complimented me on my publisher (“very professional”) and we talked a little about some of the authors she’s met this year. She mentioned one very high profile name, an author of maybe a dozen books. She also mentioned the author, who is successful, but not a household word, doesn’t receive much support at all from the very high profile publisher bringing the author’s latest books out—“no travel, no publicity, no….”

I’ve heard that story many times from many quarters. I had to ask myself if the author has asked for those things. Because simply put, you never know what you will receive unless you ask. So I’d advise any writer to become adept at politely asking for resources if they’ll increase sales.

I think about the differences if I were to self-publish compared to the traditional arrangement I have now with My publisher walked with me through every page of multiple edits, sent out dozens of review copies of the book, contacts events groups, assists with publicity, and of course produced the book, ships the book, and keeps track of who gets what. I can’t imagine trying to do all that and write the books.

There’s another intangible as well. When I get discouraged, my publisher is one of the greatest sources of support. He believes in my work strongly enough to restore my positive attitude when the going gets rough, and it always does get rough. Because I have respect for his talent, reassurance from him means a lot.

Being represented by a small press can be challenging for an author, but I believe there are also advantages that an author may not get from a big house.

So, keeping it short, these are a few more things a publisher may do for you.

If you ask politely.

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