Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: traditional publishing

Still Hoping to Get a Book Published by the “Big 5”?


If you’re not sure what the title of this post means and you’re a writer, you just might be safe from a maelstrom of difficulties. Myths of Traditional Publishing

Regular readers of this blog know I lean toward self-publishing; and, to edge toward full transparency, I would only let a traditional publisher near my book if I could hire a lawyer to write the contract—a contract that most of those publishers would immediately laugh at and throw in the waste can…

So, Traditional publishers, the Big 5…

Different folks will define those terms differently…

But, one recognized aid is, The Big Five US Trade Book Publishers.

The first thing I must tell those who are not well-informed about traditional publishing is that you should run away from anyone who tells you, “You must get used to having your manuscript rejected.”; usually, supported by the wobbly evidence that so many of the great authors had to be rejected 8 or 25 or 132 times…

There may be certain reasons to get published by a traditional publisher; but, every day that passes shows another reason to go the self-published route. (for proof, scroll down the left side-bar to the Top Tags widget and click on “traditional publishing” and “self-publishing” to read many articles on each…)

So, I found an article link in one of my emails about a half-hour ago, and knew I had to immediately blog about it rather than just add it to my very long bookmark list of possible posts…

It’s on the HuffPost site, was written by Ken Lizotte, and is called, The 4 Great Myths of Book Publishing.

I’ll list the bullet points from the article; but, leave it to you to go there and read what Mr. Lizotte says; and, for those who want to dip a toe into the lake of 1,942 posts on this blog, I’ll link to a bit of what I’ve said about each of Mr. Lizotte’s bullet points

Here come the 4 Great Myths (by the way, Mr. Lizotte does have “remedies” after each Myth… {for those intent on Big 5 publishing…}):

Myth #1: My book publisher will aggressively promote my book to the widest possible readership

My article: #BookMarketing ~ Making Sense of #AuthorPromotion

Myth #2: A publisher will ensure my book gets on the shelves of all the nation’s bookstores

My article: Self-Published Books & Bookstores

Myth #3: My publisher will print my book’s text in exactly the way I conceive and arrange it

My article: The Publishing (And Editorial) History of Some Extremely Famous Fiction

Myth #4: My publisher will provide me with a sizable monetary advance, allowing me to take time off from my regular work so that I can focus exclusively on my book

My article: Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing

I welcome Comments from writers who are still considering the chore of getting published by one of the Big 5

And, for those who can’t deal with what the Big 5 stand for but aren’t quite ready to jump into Self-Publishing, here’s an article on the Independent Book Publishers Association
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Book Deals and Author Platforms


Regular readers of this blog know I favor self-publishing; but, I’ve written quite a bit about the traditional route, too—they both have their challenges… 

And, one person who knows a lot about getting traditional book deals is Jane Friedman. This makes the 43rd time I’ve referenced her here…

And, as far as Author Platform, this is the 23rd post with that as a topic…

By the way, taking either of those last two links will show you this post at the top of a scrollable list of all the posts ( unless you first read this post after I’ve done a different post about Jane or platforms :-)

Regulars may be tired of me saying what I just mentioned in that last paragraph; but, my stats clearly show new readers arriving here nearly every day

Before I share a few excerpts from a recent article from Jane about platforms and deals, I’ll share a few excerpts about author platforms (for folks who know nothing about them) from one of my past articles—Building An Author Platform ~ One Critical Step . . . :

“The universe of Book Promotion gave birth to the term Author Platform and I’ve been amused ever since…

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with the term but there are plenty of folks who use it in funny ways.

“Some writers build a platform to promote themselves according to instructions from ‘experts’…

“Some build a platform for their books and then hide under the platform….

“Obviously, an Author Platform is constructed to Elevate the writer—raise them up above the Crowd—give them a place to deliver a Message…

“But, what many writers forget to do before building a platform is to choose a blueprint that They have drawn up and that makes the Platform serve their Own Purpose.

“That last sentence contains what I consider the most Critical Step in building your Author Platform.”

Now for Jane’s recent article—Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails (Jane begins by saying it’s for nonfiction; but, it’s perfectly adaptable for fiction…):

“Platform, in a nutshell, is your ability to sell books based on your visibility to the intended readership. If you’re a total unknown, then you may be turned down for lack of a platform to support your book’s publication….

“The dream-crushing cynic in me is tempted to say: Don’t force it, because it won’t work. You’re reverse engineering a process that—in the majority of cases—is destined to fail. Here’s why.”

Now, I’ll list Jane’s main bullet-points (explaining why building an author platform specifically to attempt to win a book deal will, almost always, not get you a book deal…) and let you go to the full article to read her sage advice…

1. You focus on superficial indicators of platform.

2. You focus on social media growth.

3. You put everything on a timeline that’s too rushed.

I’ll close with part of Jane’s Parting Advice:

“Platform building doesn’t stop if you do land a book deal. Your journey has just begun. The good news is that authors can build a platform by engaging in activities that are most enjoyable to them—because if they’re not enjoyable, you won’t continue doing them for the time required to see any kind of pay off.”

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New Year’s Resolutions from a Very Successful Author


This will be the 35th post I’ve done that relates in some way to Joe Konrath.

Jack Daniels and Associates

Click this image to find out how to “borrow” Joe’s characters…

He was very successful when he used a recognized publisher and he became even more successful when he went Indie.

And, if I can offer an idea for a writer’s New Year’s resolution, I’d say pay close attention to what’s related about Joe in my past post, Should Rejection by a Publisher Be Praised ?

Here are some excerpts:

In 2011, Joe Konrath wrote the article, The List, A Story of Rejection.

He begins with:

“…I garnered more than 500 rejections before getting published.”

Then he relates how his book, The List, was rejected by Ballantine Books, Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, Talk Miramax Books, Doubleday, Little, Brown and Company, Hyperion, New American Library, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, William Morrow, Warner Books, Pocket Books, and St. Martin’s Press.

By the way, if you go to the full article, you can read all those rejections

Joe goes on to say:

“In April of 2009, I self-published The List.”

Which is followed by an extremely enlightening sentence:

“As of this writing, December 26, 2011, The List has earned me over $100,000.”

So, just before I direct you to Joe Konrath’s New Year’s resolutions, I need to mention that clicking on the Image up there ( “Jack Daniels and Associates” ) will take you to the guidelines for Joe’s offer to “borrow” his characters. He wrote about it here & here’s a brief excerpt:

“You can take any of my characters from eighteen of my novels, and write stories about them. I have no rules or boundaries, and you can mix and match.”

Now Joe Konrath’s New Year’s Resolutions <<< that link will take you to 12 years of resolutions, about which he says, “…a lot of the advice from a decade ago still holds true, so take these resolutions for what they’re worth to you.”

And, his resolution for 2017 is:

Change with the times.”

By the way, he says a lot (at that last link) about his resolutions and you just might resolve to do some of what he says :-)
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Credit Where It’s Due ~ #TraditionalPublishing and #SelfPublishing


Regular visitors here know I’ve been covering the Traditional Publishing beat (this post will be in the collection at that last link…).

But, I’ve given space-preference to Self-Publishing.

You probably know that there’s been a Digital Book Revolution; but, if you haven’t been involved in deep study of the Book World, you may not have noticed how it can appear that traditional publishers are in the position of a critical need to adapt or die

And, it can certainly seem that those publishers are in as much denial as the folks who think there’s no climate change

Still, it was the old guard publishers who gave most of us the books we’ve treasured (unless you happen to be under the age of 20 and got into e-books very early).

So, I’ll work backwards into what got me writing today:

There was a man named Leonard Shatzkin who passed away in 2002.

He was one of those legendary figures who is said to have been “…responsible for innovations that became industry practice…”.

He seems to have been best known for a particular book he wrote, In Cold Type: Overcoming the Book Crisis.

Here’s one significant excerpt:

“For every copy of a hardcover book sold at its normal retail price, one book is sold as a remainder— a book that goes from the publisher to the remainder dealer for less than the cost of producing it and with zero income to the author. No other industry can make this claim.”

Continuing to back into what got me writing this post today, Leonard had a son, Mike, who’s referred to as, “…a widely-acknowledged thought leader about digital change in the book publishing industry.”

In an article about his father, Mike said:

“…the percentage of titles that don’t even recover their direct costs is rising. It is actually getting harder and harder to publish new titles successfully, even if the standard of success is lowered…”

O.K., now I’ve backed all the way up to what got me here today—Mike’s recent article, The Reality of Publishing Economics Has Changed for the Big Players.

I’ll share just a few excerpts:

“In the 1970s….With five thousand individuals making the decision about which books to take, even a small minority of the buyers could put a book into 500 or 1000 stores.”

“Now there are substantially fewer than 1000 decision-makers that matter. Amazon is half the sales.”

“The agent who was confirming my sense of these things agreed that the big houses used to be able to count on a sale of 1500 or 2000 copies for just about any title they published. Now it is not uncommon for books to sell in the very low triple digits, even on a big publisher’s list.”

And, for me, the most telling statement in that article:

“This is a fundamental change in big publisher economics from what it was two decades ago. While the potential wins have become exponentially bigger than they were in bygone days, the losses have become increasingly common. And while it is still an open question how well anybody can predict sales for a book that isn’t even written yet (which is the case for most books publishers acquire), there is a real cost to getting it wrong, even when the advance being paid is minimal.”

I find it interesting that Leonard, the father, was edging toward digital publishing when he died; and, it’s said about his son, Mike: “His insights about how the industry functions and how it accommodates digital change form the basis of all of the company’s consulting efforts.”

I, personally, feel that Traditional Publishing’s struggles with the Digital Revolution will tell the tale of whether they’re somehow reconciled with Self Publishing; or, they pass completely away

For those whose work demands a close and deep look into these territories, Mike Shatzkin’s Space on the ‘Net would be worth close inspection
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The Largest Book Publishers ~ 2016


As far as publishing goes, regular readers of this blog know I lean toward Self-Publishing; but, I don’t completely abhor Traditional Publishing… 

If you go to those last two links, you’ll find 151 posts at Self-Publishing and 41 posts at Traditional Publishing (This post might be at the top of both those lists…)

So, it seemed time for another article on the Traditional folks :-)

The information I’ll give you about traditional publishers isn’t restricted to the USA’s Big Five.

It comes from Publishers Weekly and lists The World’s 52 Largest Book Publishers, 2016.

Check out that last link for more info about the list; but, without further ado, here is that list:

Rank 2016 Rank 2015 Publishing Group or Division Parent Company Parent Country 2015 Revenue in $M 2014 Revenue in $M
1 1 Pearson Pearson PLC UK $6,625 $7,072
2 2 ThomsonReuters The Woodbridge Company Ltd. Canada $5,776 $5,760
3 3 RELX Group Reed Elsevier PLC & Reed Elsevier NV UK/NL/US $5,209 $5,362
4 4 Wolters Kluwer Wolters Kluwer NL $4,592 $4,455
5 5 Penguin Random House Bertelsmann AG Germany $4,056 $4,046
6 7 China South Publishing & Media Group Co., Ltd China South Publishing & Media Group Co., Ltd $2,811 $2,579
7 6 Phoenix Publishing and Media Company Phoenix Publishing and Media Company China $2,755 $2,840
8 8 Hachette Livre Lagardère France $2,407 $2,439
9 9 McGraw-Hill Education Apollo Global Management LLC US $1,835 $1,855
10 11 Grupo Planeta Grupo Planeta Spain $1,809 $1,943
11 12 Wiley Wiley US $1,727 $1,822
12 12 Scholastic Scholastic US $1,673 $1,636
13 18 HarperCollins News Corp. US $1,646 $1,667
14 14 Cengage Learning Holdings II LP Apax and Omers Capital Partners US/Canada $1,633 $1,708
15 20 Springer Nature Holtzbrinck & EQT and GIC Investors Germany, Sweden, Singapore $1,605 $1,167
16 16 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company US/Cayman Islands $1,416 $1,372
17 15 China Publishing Group Corporation China Publishing Group Corporation China $1,402 $1,495
18 NEW Zhejiang Publishing United Group Zhejiang Publishing United Group China $1,364
19 10 Holtzbrinck Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck Germany $1,231 $2,000
20 21 China Education Publishing & Media China Education Publishing & Media Holdings Co. Ltd. China $1,154 $1,108
21 19 Oxford University Press Oxford University UK $1,137 $1,181
22 22 Informa Informa plc UK $1,073 $1,075
23 23 Shueisha Hitotsubashi Group Japan $1,013 $1,033
24 29 Kadokawa Publishing Kadokawa Holdings Inc. Japan $1,009 $793
25 24 Kodansha Ltd. Kodansha Ltd. Japan $969 $997
26 26 Shogakukan Hitotsubashi Group Japan $850 $859
27 27 Bonnier The Bonnier Group Sweden $827 $836
28 25 Egmont Group Egmont International Holding A/S Denmark $786 $896
29 30 Simon & Schuster CBS US $780 $778
30 28 Grupo Santillana PRISA SA Spain $702 $793
31 31 Woongjin ThinkBig Woongjin Holding Korea $552 $577
32 32 Klett Klett Gruppe Germany $540 $560
33 35 Messagerie / GeMS Messagerie Italiane Italy $502 $460
34 18 De Agostini Editore* Gruppo De Agostini Italy $483 $1,367
35 33 Groupe Madrigall Madrigall France $478 $531
36 34 Les Editions Lefebvre-Sarrut Frojal France $432 $482
37 38 Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press UK $399 $409
38 36 Media Participations Media Participations Belgium $371 $426
39 37 Mondadori Libri The Mondadori Group Italy $350 $410
40 40 Westermann Verlagsgruppe Medien Union Germany $327 $364
41 42 Sanoma Sanoma WSOY Finland $307 $355
42 43 Cornelsen Cornelsen Germany $284 $346
43 46 Haufe Gruppe Privately owned Germany $279 $285
44 44 Kyowon Co. Ltd. Kyowon Co. Ltd. Korea $277 $312
45 46 WEKA WEKA Firmengruppe Germany $253 $286
46 45 La Martinière Groupe La Martinière Groupe France $246 $292
47 49 Gakken Co. Ltd. Gakken Co. Ltd. Japan $239 $257
48 52 EKSMO-AST Privately owned Russia $233 $211
49 51 OLMA Media Group Privately owned Cyprus $213
50 50 Bungeishunju Ltd. Bungeishunju Ltd. Japan $201 $216
51 53 Groupe Albin Michel Groupe Albin Michel France $194 $204
52 57 Shinchosha Publishing Co, Ltd. Shinchosa Publishing Co, Ltd. Japan $182 $176

* The 2015 sales figure for De Agostini reflects sales of books and partworks only; it excludes all other revenue.

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