Why Publishers Don’t Help With Publicity

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Yesterday, we saw the costs and profits involved in publishing a book were small enough that you should ignore them. So today, let’s talk about the upside of a publishing house.

The first thing that comes to mind is publicity: Helping with book signings, speaking engagements, and the like.

I think there was a time when that was the real value of publishing houses. But I don’t think it’s true anymore. Because today, blogs and twitter make that kind of networking easy. Let me explain:

If I were organizing a conference, an email from a publisher would get you an interview. I’d talk with you, see if we connect, see if I want you there. It wouldn’t get you booked, but it would get your foot in the door.

But so would an email from a mutual friend. If you know someone who’s spoken at my conference, and they introduce us, that would get you an interview too. 40 years ago, that kind of the network lived in publishing houses. Today, it lives online, in blogs.

Same for book signings, teaching gigs, etc. Especially since my day job – consulting – has me in a dozen different cities each year, so there’s no transportation costs.

No, publishing houses don’t offer publicity, they offer convenience: They have a staff editor, and a staff artist, and a staff layout person to take care of the details for you. Which sounds quite nice, actually.

So what’s the downside of a publishing house? I’ll think about that next post.

PS Looks like Taylor agrees that publishers are about publishing, not publicity. Which, now that I say it like that, is kind of obvious.

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