What to Pay for in the Publishing Industry

It amazes me how we choose to value things. A brilliant literary novel that may have taken years to research and write costs, let’s say, $15.99 in paperback and $3.99 on a Kindle.

Readers are outraged if a paperback costs $18.99, yet the same people will drop $100 on dinner with their spouses, and way more than that on new clothes, cosmetics or power tools. And what will we pay lawyers, doctors and plumbers to fix our lives? Yet, we want our brain-stimulation to come dirt cheap.

Authorship is undervalued in Western society and that attitude is unlikely to change. Perhaps this is why beginning authors are weary of spending money on career development, or even learning to write properly.

Yes, private coaching and MFAs are expensive. The professionals who have trained themselves to coach and edit expect to be paid accordingly. Authors should think of them the same way they do lawyers and other helping professionals.

It’s important for professionals in the author services industry not to over promise financial success. If fact, nothing should be promised aside from good faith fulfillment of contacted work. The self-publishing industry has been rightly criticized for gouging authors and promising more than can be delivered. That said, the traditional publishing model is in fact no better when you consider the dismal treatment and measly royalties meted out to authors by many publishers. The good news is that everything’s changing, and changing fast. But quality writing is always going to be king.

Self-publishing seems to be emerging as one way to make the writing profession pay a little better, although without well organized support the endeavor seldom produces satisfactory results.

The main thing is that having a properly edited and handsome book in print is well worth paying top dollar for. You may not get rich but your creative legacy will come alive and you will avoid being controlled by a moribund publishing system, which seems increasing arbitrary and dependent on celebrity.

About the Author Ian Graham Leask

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