What Are the Standard Roles of a Book Publisher?

By Wayland Myers

Historically, the role of the Publisher was to do 5 things:

1) Be the quality controller - reviewing and separating the good from the bad books

2) Be the reviewer - checking spelling, cleaning up style issues and working with the author to tighten up and improve their work so it had the highest chance of success with the readers,

3) Be the printer - printing the book, designing the cover, and making the hard cover or paper back type of the book

4) Be the distributor - packing, shipping and placing your book to their countrywide network of book shop shelves

5) Be the marketing pro - putting out promotional releases, making in-store displays, getting other writers to check your book and any number of other common methodologies to promote your book and give readers an opportunity to find it.

But all this work came at a cost: They desire typically 90% possession of your work, in all its various forms (e.g. Book, movie, Television show, international versions, etc...). Yes, you made it, but have to give away 90% ownership in order to get it read.

Today, the real question is: What roles are you able to play yourself that a Publisher used to be needed to play?

The answer? Each one of them - especially if you're a new writer.

The truth is that Publishing deals for new writers of western novels today are getting worse. The Publisher sees you as a risk with a little chance (something like 1/1000) of paying off for them. Their response to lessen this risk is to relegate you to a streamlined process they have developed for new writers - one that includes only the fundamentals in marketing, and not nearly enough to actually get you noticed by the reading public. They reserve their massive efforts and money for the established authors.

But marketing is the key. You can have the best novel ever, well edited and beautifully written, but without the facility to effectively get the word out nobody will ever read it (well, your friends and family will).

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