Common Misconceptions About Publishing – by Charlie Stross

Charles Stross just posted (over on his blog) part 4 of a series of posts titled Common Misconception of Publishing. It's worth a read. Here are excerpts from the 4 installments:

Common Misconceptions about Publishing #1

Misconception #1: The publishing industry makes sense.

Most discussions of publishing take it as axiomatic that there is a thing called the publishing industry and that the entities within it look similar and work pretty much the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

CMAP #2: How Books Are Made

It is a common misconception — to paraphrase a commenter in the previous post on common misconceptions about publishing, that "the only two people that matter are the author and the reader (one puts creativity in, the other money: the rest add cost)".

This is a bit like saying that in commercial air travel, "the only two people that matter are the pilot and the passenger (the rest add cost)". To which I would say: what about the air traffic controllers (who stop the plane flying into other aircraft)? What about the maintenance engineers who keep it airworthy? The cabin crew, whose job is to evacuate the plane and save the passengers in event of an emergency (and keep them fed and irrigated in flight)? The airline's back-office technical support staff who're available by radio 24x7 to troubleshoot problems the pilots can't diagnose? The meteorology folks who provide weather forecasts and advise flight planners where to route their flights? The fuel tanker drivers who are responsible for making sure that the airliner has the right amount of the right type of fuel to reach its destination, and that it's clean and uncontaminated? The designers and engineers at Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, or the other manufacturers who build the bloody things in the first place ...?

CMAP#3: What Authors sell to Publishers

'd like to tackle two common misconceptions about publishing in this piece. Firstly, a lot of people who should know better — business journalists covering the publishing industry, for example — seem to think that authors sell the copyright on their books to their publishers. And secondly, a lot of readers think that if a book is available in print in the English language in, say, the United States, they ought to be able to buy it anywhere in the world. This might be true in a practical sense, but in a legal context it's anything but — and with more and more ebook readers trying to buy titles internationally and running slap-bang into software-enforced geographical blockades, it's time to explain why.

CMAP #4:  Territories, Translations, and Foreign Rights

In CMAP #3 I dissected a book contract for the sale of US and North American English language rights. As you probably guessed from the words in front of "rights", other stuff gets sold separately by authors who have any choice in the matter.

There are generally two other lumps of English language rights you can sell; "British and Commonwealth", and — if you can crowbar them out from B&C — "Australia and New Zealand". (These latter are most often sold separately by Australian/New Zealander authors. Those of us in the UK tend to find our UK publishers take a strong proprietorial interest in them; and as they're not worth a huge amount, it's not worth fighting over unless you've got a specific reason to think you can exploit them effectively.)

About Nate Hoffelder (11214 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


%d bloggers like this: