"Author jumps up and down with joy when book does arrive"
October 3, 2014 1:24 PM   Subscribe

A charming infographic on how publishing works (according to Floris Books). Via. posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (25 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 1:24 PM on October 3, 2014

It's missing the parts about the advance, how the advance isn't earned back because of math, how the books get stripped and remaindered and the publisher is passing on additional titles, but still holds the contract for the next two books.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:43 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

They forgot the "Author gets e-mail from publisher informing them that their unsold books are going to be pulped, and would they like to buy some copies at a discount before that happens?" box.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:44 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Please note that PROFIT! does not appear anywhere in this flow chart.
posted by Kabanos at 1:46 PM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm pretty happy with the job my publisher did with my book.

You write it and supply the images, and then you trust that the artwork, layout and printing are equal to your inspiration.

In my case, the publisher hit it out of the park. Everything is better than I could have imagined or asked for. When people first see it, they think it costs twice what it really does, because it is such a beautiful job of production.

I only have to sell 4000 copies to pay back the advance.
posted by Repack Rider at 1:50 PM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Does it mention how many authors, some bestselling, who have no concept of deadlines or indeed spelling or grammar (lots), and how many books are written in large part by editors because the supplied text is so dreadful (lots), and how many authors have unjustified big ideas about themselves (also lots) ?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:55 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Missing the part where the advances grow ever smaller because the last title didn't earn back its advance because the publisher didn't promote it much because the author's name isn't King or Patterson or Roberts. Also missing the part where the author, the creator of the art, gets paid something less than a pittance for each copy sold but the publisher, a middleman that is rapidly becoming surplus to requirements, takes the lion's share while telling the author lies about why the book isn't on shelves anywhere.
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:56 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

[Author spends all their time on social media]

There are no arrows in this chart.
posted by gwint at 1:59 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Welp, based on these comments I'd be better off throwing my half finished manuscript into the sea and selling vegetables that resemble genetalia.
posted by The Whelk at 2:02 PM on October 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Yes, this thread tastes... bitter. *raises glass of bitter to celebrate 100th post*
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:04 PM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

"Production shows Author their book cover ---> Author loves it!"

Better hope so, because the arrows end there on that one no matter what the box says.
posted by kyrademon at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've been on both sides of the publisher-author relationship and this seems like a pretty reasonable flowchart likeness to me. But I've been led to understand that the US publishing industry can be pretty fucked up.
posted by Kattullus at 2:24 PM on October 3, 2014

Sadly "Production turns manuscript into a book" summarizes nicely Editorial's understanding of production. Mind you, if Production had created this flowchart everything in green would be one box called "Editorial creates manuscript".

At least in the High Education market, one of the good things I'm seeing with the shift to interactive digital "books" is that walls between Editorial and Production are coming down (though not without resistance!). You can't develop and produce a quality digital educational product without a decent understanding of both sides of the coin.
posted by Kabanos at 2:39 PM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Production show artist their book cover" -> "Author loves it"

Okay, this is the point at which my willing suspension of disbelief shattered like glass.

(Here is one of my book covers, this one from a Czech publisher. This is the UK/US cover. Which do you think caused the author's literary agent to start weeping inconsolably? (Never mind the author.))

See also: "Why did you pick such an awful cover for your book?"
posted by cstross at 2:40 PM on October 3, 2014 [9 favorites]

"It's missing the parts about the advance, how the advance isn't earned back because of math"

I know of a (lovely) publishing house that (supposedly) offers all of its authors the same deal. X advance and Y percentage, or X+ advance and Y- percentage, or X++ advance and Y-- percentage, or no advance and a larger percentage.

In the tech industry most books are written for prestige (the book won't make the author money, but their consulting fees will go up or their salary will go up). If you're making 100K+ a year doing technical work, it's unlikely a book will make you more than that.

I have a friend that sort of got the best of both worlds - he wrote a book while working a tech day job and it got published by his employer (large tech firm that does some book publishing); he made a good salary and still got to write a book (prestige factor and all).
posted by el io at 2:43 PM on October 3, 2014

While I don't wish to imply this flow chart portrays the publishing process more accurately, it does so more amusingly... at least if one is a cynic*.

* It's a little-known fact that publishing industry turns out more cynics than books.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:51 PM on October 3, 2014

What is this...marketing plan of which you speak?
posted by gottabefunky at 3:58 PM on October 3, 2014

Yeah book publishers have like one person for marketing and PR and they are SO BUSY TOO BUSY TO THINK. That burden is firmly in the author cause we can never have nice things.
posted by The Whelk at 4:16 PM on October 3, 2014

Missing the part about the proposal.
posted by BWA at 4:20 PM on October 3, 2014

Yeah, marketing? Not so much. And my publisher came to me, so there was no proposal. Only about a third, perhaps even a quarter, of this infographic reflects my experience with my (wonderful) small publisher, and for me, the "Author and Editor have spirited debate about changes" (most often, ridiculously, about the use of em-dashes vs. en-dashes) should probably take up half the screen.

That said, the day this past spring when my five, eagerly awaited, contractually-promised "author copies" arrived, I did, indeed, do a happy dance. Barefoot, in pajamas, on my front step, I hugged my burly UPS man and then happy-danced my way around the house for an embarrassingly long time.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:29 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

That said, the day this past spring when my five, eagerly awaited, contractually-promised "author copies" arrived ...

Ah, I remember those happy days!

Now imagine you're 15-20 years into a writing career, and put yourself in my shoes on the day last month when the doorbell rang unexpectedly. It was UPS, with a crate. Yet another bloody crate. The sixth of the year ...

I recognize the shipping label with a sinking heart; it's from Tor in New York. But I don't have anything coming out! Have they sent me another crate of the latest DUNE paperback by mistake? (Last time they did that it took months to convince their inventory computer to stop invoicing me, with threats and menaces.)

Take crate into the library junkyard stockroom and apply box cutter. Open it. Discover 24 shiny large-format omnibus edition paperbacks of "The Bloodline Feud". Groan. Yes, it's the US edition, which finally shipped in paper in September. The UK edition, I only got 8 author copies of. But that's okay, because it's an omnibus edition collecting two earlier novels in revised form: "The Family Trade" and "The Clan Corporate". I received 20 hardcovers and 20 mass market paperbacks of each of these (from the US publisher, Tor). I then received 20 paperbacks of each from the first British attempt at paperback printing (which sank like a stone). I have 3-4 Czech paperbacks of each book, and 4-5 French trade paperbacks of each.

Upshot: these two books (which were originally written to be one fat novel before an editor decided they'd make more money if he split it in two) have, over the years, resulted in 40 hardcovers, 86 mass-market paperbacks, and 44 trade paperbacks landing on my doorstep. Approximating each paperback to 300 grams, trade paperbacks to 400 grams, and hardbacks to 600 grams, we are talking about nearly 70Kg of paper.

I live in a top floor apartment (which makes it kind of hard to build an extension) and publish an average of 1.5 books per year. Do you see where this is going ...?
posted by cstross at 3:24 AM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do you see where this is going ...?

You won't have to look very far for secret quonsar gifts?
posted by pianissimo at 7:45 AM on October 4, 2014

Do you see where this is going ...?

Everyone who stays at, visits, or walks by your apartment has a copy of your book given to, pressed upon, or hurled at them?
posted by Grimgrin at 8:11 AM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Grimgrin: pretty much. The nearest post office is a 25 minute steep uphill walk away -- there's no parking, and anyway this is Edinburgh -- furthermore, mailing books involves queuing and costs money. So using eBay to downsize the stockpile is a mug's game.

And this describes just one book. In a bad year I get sent up to 200-250 author copies.

I do work hard to keep the flood at bay, but I reckon right now ... well, it gives the term "stockpile" real meaning.
posted by cstross at 9:33 AM on October 4, 2014

I suppose that's the reason very successful writers often move to old farmhouses. Not for the peace and quiet of the countryside, but for the barns.
posted by Kattullus at 12:19 PM on October 5, 2014

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