I’m going to start with a bit of an explanation about publishing books. At the top of the ladder are what we call the ‘Big Six.’ These are the mainstream publishers: Hatchette, Macmillan, Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster.
Then we have the smaller publishers. These are companies that have managed to continue to publish books as it is meant to be, paying the authors. There is also self-publishing and indie, which can vary from an author doing everything themselves to an author hiring others to edit and design.
Then we come to vanity publishers, the bottom of the pile. Vanity publishers charge the authors to publish their books. It can be thousands of dollars to get anything from a full editing and designing cycle to just having your book printed as is. That’s not how publishing works. We don’t pay to have our art circulated, we are paid.
This is all changing.
The Big Six are now the Big Five because two of them have merged.
And now we find out that two of them, at least, are turning to what they call ‘self-publishing’ but what is really vanity publishing. They are charging money–under different publishing names so as not to tarnish their beloved mainstream–to offer publishing services.
I always wanted to be published by a Big Six. It would be proof that I was a good writer. But seriously, not now. They are just big business now. They used to mean something, but I think they’ve lost it all for the money. Besides the fact that they are dying and merging and all kinds of other things to stay afloat.
I’ve been changing my opinion for a while now, as I work with small publishers and I really like what they are doing. I have to be honest, when I started editing in college, it was for a vanity publisher. This was all before I understood what that meant. I have since moved on and will not accept a job unless I have researched a ton and know it’s legit.
I think I’m finally to the point where I won’t even be trying to submit my work to agents and mainstream publishers anymore. The publishing world is changing. It’ll be a while before it settles into a rhythm again, maybe never. But that change is so obviously on the horizon now, and I want to be ready for it.