Publisher’s Weekly: “Big Six” publishers turning away midlist authors…
The November 7, 2011 issue of Publisher’s Weekly presents an article by Rachel Deahl about the diminishing interest the few large publishing houses have in the majority of authors. In essence, these big publishers do not have the same interest in the categories and authors who in the past might have had steady but only modest sales. To make matters worse, many of the mid-sized publishers “are looking for the same kind of sales from their titles as the big six.” Notably, in the past the large publishers carried books an almost any subject, but now, while they may still publish these books, they have to be written by prominent authors. If you do not have a big name, or what is called a “big enough platform”…you’ll have to go somewhere else.
Fortunately, smaller and niche publishers are stepping up. Janice Goldklang, of Globe Pequot, put it this way, “We are getting name authors who have been with the big houses most of their careers, and I think the way [the industry] is going, it really does come down to the fact that [the big six] are only interested in huge books.” Quoting Bill Wolfsthal at Skyhorse Publishing, “We’re filling the gap the big publishers have left open.”
My own experience has been that the economics of the old-school publishing system, and the economy, are aligning to make the high cost of books, particulary initial release hard cover books, too much for the typical book buyer. As more and more people ask why a book can sell online at half the price it sells for in the major brick-and-mortar retailers, wondering “why” begins to feel like being gouged. Though ‘dead tree’ books are not disappearing any time soon, cost and availability makes Tablets and e-books begin to look like practical necessities. With every customer who joins the digital revolution the situation comes full circle as publishers sell fewer books and have less interest in midlist authors. As authors themselves immigrate to the digital world they can smile and say, “Who is John Galt?