You’ll read what an insider has to say about what’s wrong with the publishing world and what he thinks should be done. Karp makes some very good points.
He starts by saying that if you want to know what is hurting the publishing industry, go to the bookstore and look at the titles.
On sale now: A History of Cannibalism. Illustrated! A gift book! The subtitle is stupendously, kaleidoscopically all-encompassing: From Ancient Cultures to Survival Stories and Modern Psychopaths….Then there are the arcane books, the ones that dare to be obscure on the assumption that if people will read about cod, or oranges, anything is possible. Who could resist a history of the potato, titled, of course, Potato. Amazingly, this wasn't the only work available on the subject. There's also The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World. Wasn't it intellectually responsible of the publisher to limit the scope of the subtitle to the Western world?His conclusion:
We are acquiring and publishing too many books. We buy them opportunistically, and at times thoughtlessly. We edit and launch them too quickly. We market them carelessly and ephemerally. Too often, we abdicate our responsibility to be filters, guides, guardians and gatekeepers. And now, as in many other industries, we are suffering the effects.But Karp doesn’t stop with just stating the problems. He gives solutions - 12 of them. Most are directed at those on the publishing side, but they, of course, affect writers. They’re interesting and insightful. But there was one that greatly affects the writer:
Pay authors to market their workGo read the full article. This one will probably get a lot of buzz.
We all know that one of the big functions of today's in-house marketing professional is to explain why the publisher can't afford to do much marketing. So who has the money? Authors, from the advances we pay them. Publishers should contractually require that a part of the advance be allocated to marketing and promotional efforts supervised by the author. Publishers, of course, must also do their important marketing work. But authors usually write the best promotional copy (they're writers, after all), and they certainly know their readership best. Yet they are underutilized in the publishing process. Empower them.
Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea, for example, has been sustained by a dynamic author and a multi-year speaking tour, and the hit Twilight series has greatly benefited from Stephenie Meyer's extensive online promotional efforts. At Hachette, I've had a peripheral view of the Twilight phenomenon. It began with an astute, passionate editor and publisher named Megan Tingley, who read the manuscript on an airplane, and made a pre-emptive three-book deal. The readership built gradually, and with the help of much inventive in-house marketing. But everyone within Hachette points to the author as the driving factor in the books' success.