Making Money Mondays — The Beginning of the End (Part One)



Those of you who have been around MW for a while are rolling your eyes at my poor joke (the title), since most writers have been accusing the commercial publishing industry of dying for over 20 years. Claiming that the latest changes are just its latest feeble gasp, its final kicking of legs, as the lion of change continues to choke it to death. Out with the old, in with the new. That, more or less, is what I’ve been known to think.

Why? Because when I was first published (in the dark ages) there were over a hundred NYC publishers.  After the huge Penguin Random House merger last year, now there are Five. Five.



However, publishers do still exist, and today, things seem a little more positive, as some major players in the biz make sweeping and substantive changes to try to catch up with the world. The industry MUST evolve and reinvent itself to survive, and that is what the bigger players are trying to do.

I thought I’d share what I know, tell you what it means from my perspective, hopefully start a bit of chit chat, about what it means to people like us. Ah-huh. Writers.

So, we all might ask, what does the loss of so many publishing houses, and this latest merger, mean to the industry and to us writers? First, the publishing industry and writers are not the same thing. The only way that they could ever be the same thing would be if a publisher hired writers to “write for hire,” told them what to write, tied them to contracts that kept them from writing other things that they wanted to write, and paid them a salary. (koff-koff) Sorry. That got caught in my throat. Because I do NOT want to do that. Ever. Some writers might love it. Not me.

When houses merge or there is a buyout, what happens? When the contracts are signed, they began to merge all kinds of other things. And I am NOT saying that this is all bad or all good. It is just different. Changing.

The first phase of changes:

  1. Payouts to authors are usually merged to particular times per year, instead of whenever they had been paid before. This saves money in the audit and financial departments. Saving money is GOOD.  It does slow down payments to the writers for a bit, but that tends to improve. Usually. If the merger is handled properly and is successful.
  2. Lines get streamlined—meaning that if both houses had a traditional mystery line, one would be cut. This is bad for writers, but would help the company’s bottom line, which would help them to stay afloat. So—bad/good.
  3. Many writers who are close to the edge of making it onto the NYT Bestseller list, but haven’t yet, or who were steady in sales but not growing, or were growing too slowly, would not be picked up for another contract. On first glance this is bad for writers, however, today there are so many other possibilities for writers that I don’t have the tear-jerker horror that I did with similar mergers and changes in the 1990s.
  4. Some editors and assistant editors lose jobs. Not usually a lot, but a few. Anytime editors get cut, it’s bad for writers. That’s just a fact.
  5. PR departments are merged. PR staff are cut. Ditto on not good for writers part. PR is the most overworked department in any publishing company. Less is not good. Period.

More on upcoming changes and opportunities in two weeks. And hey! New book on Feb 2. BloodinHerVeins_Final-cover

Faith Hunter



3 comments to Making Money Mondays — The Beginning of the End (Part One)

  • mudepoz

    So, dealing with number 5, what can writers do? As a writer with a minuscule publisher, we get some support, not really enough to get the word out.

  • mudepoz

    Oh, and as the locals say: YAY on the new book. Or something like that.

  • Mud, I’m going to be talking about all of these over the next few weeks, from PR, to small presses, to self publishing. There are so many opportunities open to us and so many angles to be worked. It will be fun!

    And thanks about the new book. I am really PSYCHED!