Tuesday, April 25, 2006

P&L Statements and the Book Publishing Industry

Via BoingBoing, I read this piece by Anna Louise at Tor about how a P&L statement works and the publishing decisions that go into the making of a book. It's not entirely universal, but for all intents and purposes it's spot on.

What I find most interesting about it was not the article itself, but the comments section, namely the number of authors who wrote comments saying they had no idea this was how it worked. Does that strike anyone else as being a little strange? Not that I think it's untrue. I think many authors probably don't understand the business model under which they do their business. I think this is a fundamental flaw of the opacity of our industry. It's far too secretive for no good reason.

Not surprisingly, I didn't see any comments of shock or surprise from agents. Agents, I suspect, do understand the business, but possibly don't share that information with the authors they represent. Perhaps it's in their best interest not to discourage their authors, or perhaps, not to stop their authors from feeling outraged when they don't get all the advertising they want.

Regardless, Anna Louise has started an important dialogue about a topic that seems to have been taboo previously, and I heartily commend her for it. Everyone who has ever published a book, is thinking about publishing, or has even a passing interest in the industry and how books are made should read her piece.


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