‘To Encourage More Professional Authors To Speak Out’
Originating with our report at The Bookseller’s The FutureBook in London, the news of a new online survey today (March 2) could mean a better understanding of authors’ experiences in what is sometimes called “legacy” publishing.
A US-UK effort is gathering fresh perspectives on the “quiet side” of publishing’s creative force.
‘Do You Love Your Publisher?’ is a new online survey — just 32 questions — specifically asking traditionally publishing authors for some input on their mode of doing business. The survey, which opened at noon London time, is available to traditionally publishing authors worldwide for four weeks.
You can follow news and commentary about the effort on Twitter at hashtag#authorsay.
Publishing industry specialist Jane Friedman — half the team behind “Do You Love Your Publisher?” — isn’t alone in noticing that we’ve heard a lot more from self-publishing authors in recent years than from their traditionally published counterparts.
To the consternation of some, I’ve called this “the silence of the trads”: that reticence to engage with criticism (or so it appears) on the parts of some publishing corporations and their authors.
And to be clear, when it comes to the comparative cacophony on the self-publishing side, we can’t entirely blame indie writers. Today, there are new self-publishing services outfits getting into your face almost daily. Those start-ups — frequently with obnoxious “wordsy,” “booksy,” cutesy names — need to persuade you that the indie way is the best way so they can sell you their wares.
Self-publishing author-service start-ups are cranking the indie fight song, even when the authors aren’t.
What we don’t hear nearly as much is the voice, the viewpoint, of the traditionally publishing author.
Several times, in fact, I’ve asked major publishing executives to find us a “trad Hugh Howey” on their lists. Howey’s support for the independent-author cause has been unwavering, and has included his and “Data Guy’s” ongoingAuthorEarnings.com research, meant to define for authors how viable an option self-publishing might be. But we have yet to see such a rallying figure among the traditionally publishing authors.
While not the seafaring hybrid icon that Howey has become, Friedman’s partner in creating the new survey does know his way around traditional publishing.
The English author Harry Bingham has been published by 4th Estate, HarperCollins, Hachette’s Orion, and Penguin Random House’s Delacorte / Bantam Dell. As he has written, “I’ve already had two literary agents, four publishers, seven editors, and 13 books — even more if you include things I’ve worked on as editor or ghost.”
It’s with that last imprint group that he started his Fiona Griffiths series of books in the States, only to find that while ebook sales were robust, the hardback and paperback numbers weren’t materializing.
“Random House and I couldn’t find a way to continue working together in the US,” he says in an interview with Thought Catalog, “so I’m self-publishing my Fiona Griffiths series there” in the States, starting with the third installment,The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths. He wrote about this in an essay as a guest at Friedman’s much-read site: Why Authors Walk Away From Good, Big Five Publishers.
Of special interest here: Bingham is not making a major break with traditional publishing. The Fiona Griffiths instance in the States is the only case in which he expects to self-publish. He continues, and happily, he says, to publish in the UK with the Hachette imprint Orion. And he tells me that, if anything:
I go on thinking that self-pub will not be the right solution for most authors most of the time — it’s just great that the option exists.
It’s in that concept of an unprecedented option, a choice, that Bingham says he thinks many traditionally published authors may find the most value.
For most of publishing history, the traditional route was the only pathway to publication, unless you were willing to pay large sums of money to vanity publishers to get a book out. The digital dynamic has put publishing tools into the hands of authors, themselves, if they choose to take on the task of self-publishing — which is not easy or inexpensive to do well.
What’s more, it’s interesting to note that Bingham and Friedman are both engaged in author-services work, themselves.
As a faculty member first at the University of Cincinnati and now at the University of Virginia — and as the former publisher of Writer’s Digest and the co-founder with Manjula Martin of Scratch magazine for writers — Friedman offers expert guidance and editorial assistance to authors on a consulting basis.
And when Friedman let me know about the new international survey that she and Bingham have opened today for input (based on one he conducted three years ago in the UK), I took the opportunity to ask Bingham to give us some insight into how it is that he is speaking so frankly about his own experiences in traditional publishing.
Friedman, in talking about the survey, said this:
Some of the most popular articles at my site are by traditionally published authors who have decided to self-publish. These authors speak openly and frankly about their experiences, both good and bad—and without fear.
That’s where I decided to start, in talking with Bingham about the candor with which he has described his own experience and perspective on traditional publishing.
There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog
By Porter Anderson
Writing on the Ether: ‘Do You Love Your Publisher?’ #AuthorSay Is Hanging On Every Word
Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.ThoughtCatalog.com