Publishing trends May 05 2008 1 Comment

Inevitable, given modern publishing trends -- the big houses are slowly moving away from the older sizeable-advance-then-hope-for-royalties model. Food author Michael Ruhlman, a fellow Clevelander, examines how this works as applied to cookbooks, and mentions the new Harper Collins unit discussed in the linked New York Times article. From the NYT:
Author advances and bookseller returns have long troubled the publishing industry. Best-selling authors can command advances so high that publishers often come away with slim profits, even for books that are significant successes. Publishers also sometimes offer high advances to untested authors in the hopes of creating new hits, but often those gambles do not pan out. Ms. Friedman said the new group, which will initially publish just 25 titles a year, would offer "low or no advances." Mr. Miller, who was most recently president of Hyperion, said he hoped to offer authors a 50-50 split of profits. Typically, authors earn royalties of 15 percent of the hardcover price for each book sold after they have paid off their advances. Many authors never earn royalties.
In essence, they're trying to do more or less what we do here at anezka media! Michael Ruhlman understands the model, and points out some problems with the old one.
Nick Kokonas, the restaurateur who, with Grant Achatz has created the restaurant Alinea in Chicago, was unhappy with the conventional deals publishers were offering Grant for his cookbook. Kokonas figured, given that they have an in-house designer and photographer, they could do it themselves. ... they are creating an intriguing website with demos and recipes and techinques to go with it.
(Technology and bonus features are always a plus. Stay tuned -- some upcoming anezka media releases will have both!) As mentioned in the last post, Gina Wilde of Alchemy decided to go with self-publishing after finding the offers from traditional publishers unsatisfactory. The resulting book, Destination Alchemy, is fantastic. And, without knowing all the numbers involved, I suspect she'll earn a lot more on the book in the long run than she would have under the old model. This isn't about vanity publishing -- that's an entirely different ball of wax. Amazon's recent announcement that they will no longer allow print on demand books printed by vendors other than Amazon to be sold directly by Amazon is another. (There's a lot of balls of wax in the publishing industry these days). This is about bringing quality niche content to its audience in the most efficient and highest-quality way possible while giving authors a fair deal. There's no reason, given modern technology, to stick to the old ways. We can do better!