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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Do you love your publisher? A survey...

I recently completed a survey called 'Do you love your publisher?' I've actually published 8 books, four non-fiction with several publishers (Elsevier, Pergamon, CRC Press), and four science fiction books (Ampichellis; Summertime; CreateSpace).

For any published authors out there who are interested (or publishers/agents/authors who want to see the questions), you can find the results of the 2012 survey here. If you want to take part in the current ongoing survey, you can find the link here.

Coincidentally, someone from my office came to see me yesterday about writing her first novel. It is always great talking to fresh writers because they are so full of enthusiasm, not like some of the more seasoned ones who might have become cynical about the industry. However, the 2012 survey showed that authors are still positive about publishing, although many would move to another publisher tomorrow, because their current publisher doesn't involve them enough in the process.

For my eighth book, I decided I wanted to go it alone and see publishing from the other side of the fence, and although I don't want particularly to prop up Amazon, I used CreateSpace to do it. I found them efficient, responsive and professional, by the way. But for me this was an experiment, and for the book I'm currently working on (fiction, not scifi), I'll try again the 'traditional' publishing route.

In one of my answers in the current survey, in response to a question about Amazon and what message I'd like to give to the CEO, I replied that Amazon needed to find a way to stop 'shills' (bogus reviews to increase a book's sales) from biasing the market and lowering standards. I believe in free markets, but I go to writing conferences and see many authors beating themselves up about perfecting their writing, and then I look at the top 100 on Amazon in various genres, read the first few pages of some of them, and am sometimes aghast at the poor writing in these top sellers, and often these books have hundreds of 5 star reviews, and maybe one or two one-star ones asking what the fuss is about.

One of the questions asked whether traditional publishing might disappear in the next 10-20 years. I answered 'yes'. But it's a conditional yes. Traditional publishing needs to gear up, or even man up in the fight against Amazon, and come up with a viable alternative that values good writing but still sells well. Part of this solution is engaging better with authors. As with any industry, its the people that matter, more than the products. Forget that and you'll be consigned to the dust heap.

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