This is something I think a lot of people struggle with. Not too long ago, authors did not have the choices they have today. If you wanted to get published, you needed an agent. Period. And that agent had only a handful of publishing houses to get you book into.
Not so today, but let’s take a look at the “biggies”.
These are the publishers commonly referred to as the “Big Six”
Simon and Schuster
Even though there are many other choices available, these Big Six (5) are still the “only option” for many people. Hey, I’m not knocking that… why not aim high? The big houses can do a lot for you. Professional editing. Marketing. Sales team to get you into bookstores. Kick-butt cover art.
Yep. Sounds good to me.
I completely understand anyone wanting to jump into an organization that can give you so much. Problem is, more and more Big Six authors are raising their hands and saying “umm, I don’t get that stuff from my Big Six publisher”.
Now, I am not a Big Six author, so I can only relay what I’ve heard. Yes, there is a marketing budget. However, most of that budget is spent on the Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings of the world. Big houses spend their money to spread the news about titles the KNOW will sell. The little, debut authors? Not so much (but that is not to say never) And as far as getting into Barnes and Noble, the sales person, if you are lucky, will mention and talk about your book for all of fifteen seconds in a very short sales meeting with the bookseller. That’s not too long.
Editing is hit or miss. I think we’ve all seen typos in Big Six novels. They make me cringe. It shouldn’t happen. I do think that, overall, Big Six novels do seem to get decent content edits, though. Editing is manual. It will always be open to mistakes.
I will give them this… Covers are usually pretty dern snappy. That kind of cover costs a pretty penny. But there are some misses there as well. And you will have no creative control whatsoever about your cover with the big guys.
I think that the big thing attracting people to the Big Six is bragging rights. I totally understand that. Getting into a Big Six is a statement. What does it say?
“I did it.”
Yes, I understand that completely. It’s a huge accomplishment. With thousands of novels vying for a precious few slots in their catalog, “making it” is certainly brag-worthy. Once you are there, though, you need to take stock and decide if you are really getting what you thought you were getting.
In many cases, authors ARE getting what they hoped for. But there are also many who think the Big 6 fall short.
Next time, we’ll talk about the ‘bigger than you can imagine’ houses.