firstwriter.com's database of publishers includes details of 2,863 English language publishers that don't charge authors any fees for publishing their books. The database is continually updated: there have been 92 listings added or updated in the last month. With over a dozen different ways to narrow your search you can find the right publisher for your book, fast.
What could – and indeed, should – a magazine look like in 2020? That was the question British publishing veterans Dan Crowe and Matt Willey asked themselves when their latest collaboration, INQUE – a large-format literary magazine launched last month – was in its nascent stages. As the founders of Avaunt and Port magazines (at the latter, Crowe is editor and publisher) they were all too familiar with the traditional magazine model; the reliance of advertisers to fund the printing and distribution of a magazine, and the way that such partnerships impact the content inside the pages.
With Labor Day only five weeks away, it has become clear that a substantial number of publishers, both in New York City and elsewhere, will not be returning to their offices in anything resembling full force before 2021. Moreover, organizers of a few industry events set for early next year have already announced they will be moving them from in-person to online. PubWest, for one, announced that its annual conference, originally planned for February 4–6 in Denver, will be virtual.
Those developments follow decisions to hold many fall 2020 publishing events online. All of the fall regional bookselling shows, which some had speculated could mark the return of in-person meetings, have gone virtual. BISG canceled its annual meeting—which had originally been planned for spring but moved to September 11 in New York City—and replaced it with a series of online programs, which began July 28 and will conclude on September 11 with its awards ceremony and a keynote address by Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt. Last week, the Brooklyn Book Festival said it will move its September 28–October 5 fair online. The National Book Awards will also be a virtual event, set for November 18. In the weeks ahead of the awards ceremony, the NBA will hold a series of digital programs, beginning October 20 with its 5 Under 35 event, which recognizes emerging fiction writers.
I run a solo agency practice, Lotus Lane Literary, which I established in 2013. I work from my home-office in New Jersey and employ a part-time intern throughout the year. I do business mostly in the US, the UK, India, and sometimes in other Asian and European countries via book scouts. My roster ranges from debut to well-established writers from all over the world. Lately, I have also started selling film/TV options to production houses in India, UK and the US.
In all these years, my life has been enriched in ways I could not have imagined. The camaraderie with authors and editors is special. It is gratifying to wake up each morning and look forward to reading a new manuscript, or working with an author on an edit, or brainstorming characters and their motivations. My authors often joke that they have graveyards full of characters I have suggested eliminating from their manuscripts. I love being immersed in narrative in any form, as books not only open us up to discovery, wonder and excitement, but also help us make sense of our volatile world.
While the joys of being a literary agent are deeply enmeshed with creativity, it is ultimately a business. In an industry that works at the dichotomous intersection of art and commerce, running a profitable business is always a challenge, especially in times of global pandemics and recessions.
Though many independent publishers interviewed by PW last week reported a drop in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, several said sales are—surprisingly—up for the year, buoyed by strong interest in backlist titles, direct sales to consumers, and enhanced digital initiatives. Most also said their staffs are working remotely and will continue to do so until at least the end of August. Some are allowing limited staff to go to their offices irregularly to fulfill orders and do necessary administrative tasks.
Not so long ago, writing and publishing your own book was just a pipe dream for many of us.
It wasn’t so much getting the words down on paper which was putting us off.
It was more the expense of either finding an agent and a publisher or paying through the nose to print dozens of copies yourself which might have ended up unsold and gathering dust in the garage.
But that is resoundingly no longer the case. Digital publishing and online booksellers such as Amazon have been an absolute game-changer.
When Simon & Schuster announced in late February that it is canceling Milo Yiannopoulos’s book, Dangerous, many in the publishing industry reacted with a sigh of relief. The six-figure book deal that the right-wing provocateur landed at Threshold Editions, S&S’s conservative imprint, late last year caused a wave of criticism—from various factions of the media, the public, and the house’s own authors. And, though it’s still unclear what ultimately motivated the publisher to yank the book, the fervor that the alt-right bad boy’s deal caused put some on alert. Could other publishers be pressured into canceling books by controversial conservatives? Does the industry have a double standard for authors on the right? Does it matter?
In April 2011, Marion Grace Woolley found her first publisher through firstwriter.com's database of publishers. A year later, she has published three books with two different publishers, both from our listings.
Traditional book publishers. They were once known as the titans of the book publishing industry. In the Baby Boomer era, self-publishing was an unknown concept. You needed a traditional publisher if you wanted the best chance to succeed with your book.
During that time, there was significantly less competition for publishers and authors, meaning more book sales for both parties.
Over time, traditional publishers (especially The Big 5) gradually started to exploit authors by offering lower royalties and seizing the author’s publishing rights.
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