Publisher - Author Responsibilities
In working with a writer recently, it occurred to me that not everyone understands how publishing works. (I know, shocking. After teaching publishing seminars for 8 years, I’ve discovered most unpublished writers don’t know.) But there is a system in place and publishers and authors each have their responsibilities.
If you’re self-publishing, then it all falls on you. But how do things happen when a traditional publisher takes on your book?
First, it helps to know how the relationship works. The author is not hiring the publisher to produce the book - in essence, the publisher hires the author to produce a marketable manuscript. Since it’s the publisher’s time, expertise, and money going into the project, they make the decisions.
The author’s responsibilities are:
- Produce a marketable manuscript
- Perform all revisions as per the publisher’s timetable
- Market the book online and in the real world before and after the book’s release
The publisher’s responsibilities are:
- Editing, light to in depth
- Cover design, either in house or through a regular freelancer
- Book formatting and production
- Printing and distribution, both outsourced
- Minimum marketing or better
- Scheduled royalty payments to author
There are a lot more responsibilities, but those are the basics.
Note that everything to do with book production is the responsibility of the publisher and in their control. With smaller presses, the author might have some input on the cover, but usually they have little to no say in the final design. They also have some say in the revisions, although refusing too many suggestions might result in being dropped completely.
For writers who want more control, self-publishing isn’t their only option these days. There are numerous small presses arising that are formed by authors who get to control their work. There’s also the issue of low royalties, which some small presses like Freedom Fox Press counter with much higher royalties. And of course, expertise and clout factor into it, something a publisher, big or small, can offer that one might not possess when self-publishing..
My advice to writers is pick the path that best suits his or her needs. There’s traditional publishing, self-publishing, and a lot now available in between!