I think it’s fair to say there is a degree of bad practice within most industries. That’s why programmes like You and Yours exist, and let’s be fair, BBC 1’s Watchdog has always been a big show, highlighting the shady, the unethical, the immoral. Clearly it’s important to shine a light where this goes on, for example as highlighted in the Society of Author’s recent investigation into ‘hybrid’ publishing. But what about good practice?
Not everyone out there is trying to do wrong by others. In the case of the ‘Is it a Steal?’ report, the deep dive pertains to three specific publishers, and makes for a disturbing read. But nowhere does the report mention those striving for best practice in this sphere. It certainly wasn’t referred to in the You and Yours interview.
I’m not saying mistakes aren’t made – nobody’s perfect. But I do think that what we offer at RedDoor is crucial right now. We give talented writers – those who slipped through the publishing net, or just missed out on an agent or a book deal – a chance. We give them a time to shine, because they deserve it, and we do it the very best way we can. Glancing at the catalogue, there isn’t one author who didn’t deserve that chance, and we are proud of each and every one of them.
So when the news is tough to hear and life is hard, let’s not forget the positives. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about balance.
Myth #1: hybrid publishers operate in the same way and do the same thing
Incorrect. There are, in fact, many that fall under the ‘hybrid’ umbrella and one size doesn’t fit all. The reasons are numerous but one quick example is RedDoor authors retain all copyright. They also own all their stock. We have the license to sell on their behalf but they do it themselves and keep that profit. #GoalpostsMoved
Myth #2: the only reason hybrid publishing exists is to exploit authors
Incorrect. Whilst it’s true there are shady outfits acting unethically, there are those that want to break out talented writers that missed out on a book deal due to the focus on big names and the risk averse nature of the industry.
Myth #3: there are only two valid routes to market – traditional deal and self-publishing
Incorrect. It’s hard to get a traditional deal – everyone knows that. It’s hard to get an agent. Whilst self-publishing exists, the reality is that it’s really hard, and not everyone has the time and inclination to go it alone. Isn’t it time to accept that things have changed? Is it fair to assume that if you don’t get a deal and you don’t self publish, then you don’t deserve to be published at all? Maggie Gee (author of The Red Children) sums it up perfectly in her recent interview on the brilliant Not To Busy to Write podcast (6 April: Empathy, Language and the Non-Human in Fiction), “Don’t get too upset if you don’t get an agent or a mainstream publisher, there’s still quite a variegated scene out there… and if you keep going, you’ll find a way.” She’s right, there has to be another way.
Myth #4 hybrid publishers don’t get their books into the retail
Talk to any independent publisher and you’ll know it’s hard to get any book into the retail, unless you are a big name/ have a large marketing spend. The positive here is the support our authors get from their local bookshops, who provide an organic, grassroots segue into what is, as we know, a very crowded market. #SupportLocal
Myth #5 hybrid publishers should be getting publicity for their books
It’s really hard to get any mainstream media coverage unless you’re published by the big houses, have a great contact or are lucky enough to work with a PR. That’s just the way it is and it’s not a reflection on how hard we try to raise awareness of our books.
The reality is that it costs a lot of money to publish a book, more so with the print industry in chaos at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we should close the door on this other way of doing things. Writers are a supportive lot, they stick together. Why then, as a collective industry, can’t we?