Many of you may know I've been shopping around for a book publisher. I've written earlier about the difficulties in finding a publisher willing to even look at a previously unpublished author, especially one without representation. Judging by their reactions, one would think the market is flooded with books - there just isn't the audience for all that's being produced.
The reality is that the costs involved in publishing a book these days are so prohibitive that publishers aren't willing to take a risk on anything even slightly different from the mainstream. But publishers have no one to blame but themselves for their increased costs.
First there's the ridiculous amount of money they give authors in advances, to the tune of millions of dollars. Then there’s the money they have to spend on publicity in the hopes of selling enough books to recoup huge advances. If they're very lucky they might get a small percentage from a film if the book makes it to the big screen, but that can sometimes be years after publication.
They compound these expenses by not doing due diligence on their authors as well as they could. It's costly when you end up with thousands of copies of a book that was plagiarized word-for-word from a previously published work.
Let’s hear from your agent
In the fall of 2005 notices appeared on the submission guidelines web pages of almost every major publisher in North America and Britain. "We are no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts unless through a reputable agent." It was almost word for word on all the web pages, no matter which publisher. It was as though they had held a meeting and decided they would all run the same announcement on the same day.
They blamed it on being inundated by so many bad unsolicited manuscripts from bloggers, who thought the world wanted to hear their life stories. Having read some of the dreck passing for writing on people's blogs, I admit that at first I could see some veracity in this claim. But recently I've had second thoughts about that assertion and have started wondering if there isn’t more to it than they've been claiming.