Monday, May 31, 2010

Author vs. Publisher Responsibilites

Every publishing house is a bit different, with big houses being less compliant and helpful perhaps than smaller ones. However, some things don’t change. If you’re an aspiring author, keep these things in mind.

First, it is the author’s responsibility to provide the manuscript and any accompanying material, such as graphs, photos, drawings, etc. It is NOT the publisher’s responsibility to do this. The only exception here is with illustrations. Many publishers go with their own illustrators, although this is not always the case.

It’s the author’s responsibility to provide the acknowledgements, forewords, prefaces, and front matter of this nature. It is also the author’s responsibility to provide material for the dust jacket covers, such as author photo and biography, and information about the book. This should be done in a timely manner.

Authors are also expected to round up endorsements for the book. Most publishers will get professional reviews, but this is not the sole responsibility of the publisher.

The publisher has the responsibility of getting the book listed in Bowker’s Books in Print, assigned an ISBN, edited, and the cover designed. The publisher sees to the layout and design of the book, its upload, printing, and distribution.

Marketing is more and more left to the author, although big name authors still get plenty of easy press. For the rest, it’s a lot of work. Some publishers help with this, most small houses do not. Books that don’t move in six months are dumped. Once an author has a book dumped, it gets harder to get another title accepted. The author has a “bad” reputation and isn’t considered worth the risk.

Small publishers often keep books available in print far longer than big houses. Moonlight Mesa has two titles still in print that are five years old...and still sells them! Most of the time this doesn’t happen, however.

Part of the reason small publishing houses can keep books in print is because of POD (print on demand). It’s not a problem to order up as many, or as few, books as wanted. Inventory, storage, and things of this nature are not a problem with POD. It doesn’t really cost the publisher very much to keep a file active. And POD quality has greatly improved!

Work with the publisher and many misunderstandings can be avoided. Authors must fulfill their obligation by helping to sell their books. If you’re not interested enough in your own title to get out and sell it, don’t expect anyone to publish it!

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