Between the lines — pertinent publishing perspectives

Publishing’s a high-stakes business — from authors aiming to maximize profits from their printed words to agents angling for their 15 percent and publishing houses prizing their cut from the pie.

It’s not an easy arena for the uninitiated to enter, although digital tech has increased inclusivity in some aspects.

If you like reading between the lines, here are a few pertinent publishing perspectives.

Digital funding

When eReaders came to prominence just prior to the onset of the Great Recession, some industry insiders feared they would ring the death knell of paper-based publishing.

And for a few years, the polarising debate between advocates of electronic books and their physical predecessors raged fiercely.

But we’re now in an era where digital tech and traditional publishing can co-exist symbiotically — as proven by Patreon-powered feminist books and publishing houses launched by Kickstarter campaigns.

It seems that entrepreneurs with the foresight to capitalize on connecting directly with the public can circumnavigate traditional barriers to raising funds for furthering their literary dreams.

Trad v self-publishing

As well as challenging the dominance of paper books, the emergence of devices like Amazon’s Kindle also transformed self-publishing from an activity often dismissed as vainglorious to a legitimate way to make money.

There are pros and cons to traditional and electronic methods. A traditional publishing deal might only allow an author to earn six to 10 percent of physical book sales — but business practicalities like PR and cover design are taken care of, allowing the writer to concentrate on penning their next hit.

Meanwhile, Amazon royalty options are much more generous — equating to either 35 or 70 percent. But the flipside is that more of the author’s time is taken up with digital publishing activities and learning the ropes of commercial business.

Either way, having more ways of getting your work into the public domain can’t be bad.

Resurgence of paper books

eReaders make reading more convenient for casual readers on the move and agents who don’t want to lug heavy manuscripts around with them. Accessing millions of titles at your fingertips is also rather mind-blowing.

But sales of physical books have picked up over the past few years for a few reasons. Some readers love the tactile qualities of paper books and won’t swap them for a screen, paper versions make more substantial gifts and sometimes make reading with children more enjoyable.

Some types of books are more suited to physical than electronic versions too — for example, colourful cookbooks and academic medical books.

This resurgence is reassuring  — it would be sad if paper tomes were tossed into the dustbin of history and accessing books in the future was the sole privilege of those who own electronic devices.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed perusing these pertinent publishing perspectives — reading between the lines always reveals more than you expect.

How do you feel about the publishing industry? Share your views in the comments section.


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