Why Do We Need Publishers?

Writers who self-publish electronically get to keep all the money their books earn less a pittance to the venue through which the book is sold, such as Amazon or Smashwords. That’s not much money but If they publish through an electronic publisher such as Samhain,Tate or The Written World, the publisher takes an additional chunk of money for their effort.

Sometimes that’s a rather sizable chunk considering that they have no printing costs and don’t have to ship paper books all over the world. Print publishers, such as Dorchester or Penguin Books, take even more to cover the cost of printing and distributing. And they do so even though the writer has to do all or most of the marketing. So why bother with a publisher at all? Why not just self-publish and keep most or all of the money yourself?

The answer is that publishers, both print and electronic, provide one very valuable service. They tell you how to market your book. That’s major because, without marketing few readers will ever know your book is out there let alone make the decision to buy it. I’ve met some writers who are also skilled marketers. I’m awed at how well their books seem to climb the charts whether they have written the next great novel or not. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know a fig about marketing.

And that’s okay if we publish through a publisher because as a part of the agreement between them and you, the writer, they check your website and tell you what’s wrong with it, how to improve it, and if you don’t have one, they tell you where and how to create one.They tell you what to say and do on that website and how to say and do it. They tell you which social media sites are best for marketing your specific book and they take you through the process. Step by step. In detail. Much the way those techies do when your computer stops working and you call for help and end up doing whatever they say with your phone scrunched against your shoulder and your fingers on the keys. And they keep doing it until they believe you know how to sell as many of your books as possible. And until your sales are satisfactory to everyone involved.

That service is worth whatever they charge and is what will keep them in business until someone comes along with software that will do the same thing at the touch of a button. (I’m sure that’ll happen eventually because it’s amazing what software designers come up with. But it hasn’t yet. Hint, hint any software designers out there.) In the meantime we writers gladly give thanks and a portion of our profits to publishers.

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