The State of the Publishing Industry
The State of the Publishing Industry
03 November 2021
"Books have shaped American public life throughout our nation's history, and authors are the lifeblood of book publishing in America. But just five publishers control the U.S. publishing industry," the Attorney General [Merrick B. Garland] continued. "If the world's largest book publisher is permitted to acquire one of its biggest rivals, it will have unprecedented control over this important industry. American authors and consumers will pay the price of this anti-competitive merger – lower advances for authors and ultimately fewer books and less variety for consumers."
Press Release: Justice Department Sues to Block Penguin Random House's Acquisition of Rival Publisher Simon & Schuster – Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs
The above statement and additional information provided by this press release are at the core of Wild Lark Books’ designed purpose. For years, its Founder, Brianne van Reenen, repeatedly witnessed incredible artists be dismissed, taken advantage of, and used by this monstrously large industry. And the publishing industry justifies attempted actions such as this merger and gate-keeps a coveted milestone for writers through snobbish, elitist ideals.
Writing is an art form that deserves liberation as well as a renewed respect for its creators, and Wild Lark Books desires to give the power back to writers and elevate them as the artists they are.
Writers often have two options to become published.
ONE – They walk the path of traditional publishing. Here is a familiar timeline for that process.
- A writer takes the time, mental strain, and energy to craft a complicated, vivid manuscript that has often spent time being reviewed and re-reviewed by peers, friends, family, and beyond.
- The manuscript then goes to an editor to get cleaned up and ready to be reviewed by an agent.
- The writer then spends an innumerable amount of time and effort researching agents who might be interested in their style and genre, writing query letters suited to that particular agent, sending it off, and awaiting a reply.
- They then await a response which is either a (usually polite) no thank you or a request to read more pages.
- If more pages are requested, the writer awaits further instruction. If it’s just the no, they continue to query additional agents.
- It sounds simple, but this is often the most challenging part of the journey – and the part where writers will spend years trying to be seen and accepted by an agent with many (even hundreds) of rejection letters to muster over in the meantime. Indeed, between the task of actually writing a complete book and the querying process, writers are among the most resilient and tenacious people on this planet.
- Upon the magical day of signing an agent who has agreed to represent the author and the manuscript, the agent then sets to the task of presenting the book to publishing companies. Again, this could take months or even years – or could lead to no publication at all.
- Should the book be accepted by a publishing company, the press release by the Department of Justice describes the folly that occurs at the expense of the writer. The book becomes a business token for the publisher while the author’s heart and soul are still very much attached to it.
The publishing industry can favor the lucky few, but it is not for the faint of heart and often chews up its artists for the sake of company profit.
TWO – Writers can self-publish, but it requires money to pay for editing, graphic design, formatting, registration, printing, etc. And then it leaves the author to promote themselves by asking local bookshops to put the book on their shelves, trying to catch the eye of the Amazon algorithm, and find clever ways to earn the respect of their peers who have managed to publish traditionally. (Read 6 Top Tips for Self-Publishing)
This option creates freedom for writers, because they retain full rights of their work. It doesn’t belong to anyone else, which means they can make all decisions regarding it as well as keep all profit for their work. It is much more challenging to get visibility as a self-published author, which is why publishing traditionally is often preferred. Publishers have the network and the desire to make a profit to drive them to make the book a success.
Self-publishing incurs a different debate because it leads to the concern of whether or not a traditional publishing company will consider authors who have self-published – for a myriad of reasons we won’t go into at this particular moment but is further proof of the elitist opinion of the industry. So, if an author self-publishes, it might make them less eligible to be published traditionally in the future.
Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Either way, the artist is damned the most.
Surely there’s a way to bridge the worlds and give the power back to the author? Isn’t there a way to break open the gates of publishing by creating a path for publication that favors the artist, allows them to keep their artistry’s rights, and leverages a network of readers who love books and cherish their writers? We believe so.
Wild Lark Books has three intentions:
- To favor writers by bridging self-publishing with traditional publishing.
- To empower authors by allowing them to retain full rights of their work and earn fair royalties.
- To give the power of deciding what makes a desired book to the reader.
TL;DR – It’s time the power in the publishing industry was given back to the writers who have carried it on their backs.