Promote or Perish: 3 services publishers used to offer.

Publisher. Publication. Publicity.

traveling_salesman

Hit the bricks and sell those novels!

See the similarity in those words? It’s not a coincidence. Those who hang out the “Publisher” shingle on their little shack are promising, by their very title, to create publicity for the works they print.

And yet, authors, how many times have you been preparing to submit a manuscript, and been deflated by a statement like this?

Over the past ten years, the publishing industry has changed drastically. These changes now mean that authors carry the responsibilities of promotion, marketing, and publicity for their works. Many authors fail at this difficult task, meaning their contract is cancelled, and any future contracts are at risk. It’s a cold, hard fact that an author’s books must become popular for the industry to be able to keep publishing.

This is an excerpt from the submissions page of a small, independent press. I have changed (and, I must say, corrected) some of the vocabulary and sentence structure, in order to keep search engines from locating the exact source. I would credit this publisher, but it might seem I am picking on them. I am not. Such clauses, to some degree or another, are fixtures in most small publishers’ disclaimers these days. That “cold, hard fact” is one that has affected us all.

Here’s the thing, though, about facts: people with power are the ones who create them. I think most of us would agree that, even now, publishers hold much more power than authors.  Continue reading