Byte the Book – What is the Best Publishing Route for Authors?
On Monday night we attended the final Byte the Book event of the year at the gorgeous Ivy club to discuss 'What is the best publishing route for authors?' The panel line up was absolutely fantastic with Orna Ross (Author and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors), Juliet Mushens (Literary Agent at the Agency Group), Suzie Doore (Editorial Director at Hodder and Stoughton) and Dominic Selwood (Barrister, Author and Journalist).
Throughout the evening we delved into all the different routes for an author - the agency, the publisher and the self-publishing route as well getting valuable input from Dominic and authors in the audience too. The night was also sponsored by IngramSpark, a platform that enables authors to upload their content to be distributed.
Juliet started us off by talking through the importance of the agent as middle men between the author and the publisher. They have an incredibly close relationship and are responsible for being their support the whole way the through the process, helping to market and publicise authors as well as negotiating on their behalf to ensure they get the best advance and royalties for their book.
Suzie went on to talk about the importance of an editorial team in a publisher - they are the experts so trust them! The editor’s job is to champion the book, to push it through and make sure that this book is going to be a successful business. Similarly when Orna spoke about self-publishing, (or 'author-publishing' as it is otherwise known), she highlighted the importance of treating a book as a business in order to make money where the author must consider themselves the Creative Director of that business whilst drawing on the support of experts.
Dominic has published both traditionally and independently and he didn't advocate either one as 'better' than he other. Both routes have been successful in his opinion – going through a publisher is both risk and reward with many mouths to feed as you are a part of a business that has many other revenue streams and when you're self publishing you have to have the confidence to put yourself out there and to take it seriously as it’s own individual business.
Having had a bad experience when working with a publisher, Orna prefers the ‘author-publishing’ route herself; she summed up the relationship between the author and the reader beautifully - it is like two imaginations connecting – when doing this by yourself you are able to have more creative input but you have to allow yourself to get the help you need from experts who will be able to critically edit in line with what the market needs.
At Hachette, Susie is very focussed on author care and tries to include them at most stages of the process but it is impossible when publishing so many books to keep an author involved at every step of the way and at some point, they must put their trust in the professionals.
An author must know their own market and each member of the panel talked about getting to know your reader, particularly when publishing independently. An online presence is critical but don’t fake it, it has to be ‘you’ and if you start it then you must keep it up.
The important thing to remember for authors right now is that it is not about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing; each method works differently dependent on the author and how much involvement they want to have. Juliet’s advice for authors wanting to publish independently is this – commit to it, get an editor, make it a point of difference and make it find a market so that it can be a successful business. If you are going to publish traditionally – then find an agent who knows about that book market, and who has the existing relationships to make it work.