Indie Versus Traditional Publishing

This article, by Jess C. Scott, originally appeared on her site on 6/1/10.

This is a condensed version of my quite-long (35-page) advertising plan which I submitted for BUS 345: Advertising, in the Spring 2010 semester. The paper was written with regards to “establishing my brand identity as an author.” I scored full marks for the paper (yay).

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Industry Analysis of Traditional Publishers


2.0 Historical Context

According to Doug Grad Literary Agency, whose founder spent twenty-two years as a senior editor at four major New York publishing houses:

Publishers, unfortunately, have a copycat mentality, so once a genre gets hot, they quickly overbuy and over-publish until the marketplace is saturated and the public gets sick of the rotten imitations on the shelves. Look at what happened to the Chick Lit genre, and is happening to the Young Adult Vampire genre right now. (Grad, 2010)


2.1 Industry Analysis

2.1.1 Current Industry Climate

George Bernard Shaw, a famous and controversial 20th century English dramatist (whose first book was published fifty years overdue—when publishers would publish anything that had his name on it), had this to say about publishers:

I object to publishers: the one service they have done me is to teach me to do without them. They combine commercial rascality with artistic touchiness and pettishness, without being either good business men or fine judges of literature. All that is necessary in the production of a book is an author and a bookseller, without the intermediate parasite. (Bernard, 1990)

Independent publishing in the digital era offers what George Bernard Shaw dreamed of. Anyone can write a book, and get it in the hands of potential readers, without having to wade through a sea of literary agents and editors. The entire traditional publishing industry is made up of a series of costs, overheads, and ways of using up incredible amounts of time which might be used doing something productive. Big publishers will not look at unsolicited manuscripts from un-agented writers, and taking 6-12 months to respond to the submission of a full manuscript is considered an industry standard for “working in a timely manner.” The endless series of procedures for simply getting a book considered by a literary agent, are obstructive. Literature is competing with powerful media for space in people’s lives, and inefficiency doesn’t help (Wallis, 2009).

Authors also often have no say and/or control in the traditional publishing process. According to established author, critically acclaimed novelist, and National Book Award finalist John Edgar Wideman:

Read the
rest of the article on Jess C. Scott’s site.