With the dust settled from last year’s Amazon-Hachette feud and three of the Big Five publishers back on a version of the agency model of ebook pricing, Publishers Lunch founder Michael Cader wondered at Digital Book World 2015 yesterday whether the industry is moving into a period of greater stability.
Even if it is, though, another question that debate pushed to the fore–about publishers’ roles with respect to authors–remains far from settled.
Some characterized traditional publishers during the dispute as akin to venture capitalists, investing in worthy projects that might not survive without them. But as the self-publishing landscape continues to grow and evolve, others counter that that function is a small and diminishing part of what publishers do, as are the rewards that accrue to authors.
So the 2015 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey approached these issues with a focus on the economic inputs and outcomes of the publishing process for authors.
The report based on this year’s findings, The Author-Publisher Relationship in a Changing Market: Risks, Rewards and Commitment, published today by Digital Book World, compares the most common arrangements between authors and publishers to determine which combinations correlate to sales and earnings that leave authors satisfied with the choices they make.
Measuring those arrangements has required going beyond the familiar indie-traditional divide. As the report’s author Dana Beth Weinberg put it, speaking on a panel about authors at Digital Book World 2015 this afternoon, “It’s getting harder and harder to see where that dividing line is.”
Instead, this year’s report proposes thinking about the investments involved in the publishing process as lying along continuum, according to who shoulders the greater share of risk and receives the greater portion of the rewards.
Digital Book World will take a close look at the survey data and explore insights from the report in a series of blog posts during the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, The Author-Publisher Relationship in a Changing Market is available here for purchase, and you can hear Weinberg discuss the project on Copyright Clearance Center’s Beyond the Book podcast here.