I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from Schilling earlier this year as they prepared a white paper called “Author and publisher relations — how publishers stay competitive in digital publishing.” You can download the free report here.
As self-publishing becomes a more viable alternative for authors it’s important for publishers to adapt and prove they still add value. While preparing this report Schilling spoke with a number of publishers and authors in both Europe and North America. That’s important to note as this report isn’t just a U.S.-only view of the author/publisher relationship.
You’ll find some interesting points in this survey and it’s a very short read so I highly recommend you download it now. Here are a few of the items that caught my attention:
- One author wisely pointed out that, “I do not think that publishers know their readers. Their customers have always been bookshops and not the readers.” How true. And isn’t this one of the biggest hurdles for publishers who now want to create a direct sales relationship with their readers?
- A publisher echoed that author’s point by saying, “we have a lot to learn about the business-to-consumer market.” As I’ve said before, it’s no wonder the biggest players are looking to consolidate with the hope of creating more leverage with retailers who do know a lot about B2C.
- Most “authors do want a publisher to look after all the practical stuff.” That’s consistent with what I’ve heard from a few authors I’ve spoken with who have been both traditionally-published as well as self-published. Sometimes it only takes one challenging self-publishing project for an author to realize the value their publisher brought to the table. But the price has to be right for both parties. Authors realize their platform is often a better marketing tool than anything the publisher can offer, for example.
- We’re heading towards more of a “share the risk, share the reward” model: Lower (if any) advances but higher royalty rates on more projects.
- I found it interesting that one author talked not about their 15% royalty rate but flipped it around and said he or she is paying 85% to be published today. It’s clear authors are looking for publishers to justify that 85% share.