74% of authors reported that their publisher never solicted feedback (“eg: did they ask you how you felt about their overall performance?”)
812 traditionally published authors were asked to give feedback on the firms that publish them. Our data reveals widespread discontent – more authors (37%) would choose to leave their current publisher if offered the same advance by a rival house, than those (33%) who would choose to stay. Yet our data also shows that authors are highly sceptical of self-publishing, with only 15% expecting they would improve their financial position by so doing.
The survey was conducted by Agent Hunter (in the UK) and Jane Friedman in the US. The survey was open to all traditionally published authors, whether or not they had also self-published. 812 responses were collected, of which 39% were from Britain/Ireland, and 58% from US/Canada. Authors were typically very experienced (57% had published 5 or more books), recently published (77% had published in the last 12 months), and allied with Big Publishing (56% of respondents were published by a “Big 5” firm or a large independent, such as Bloomsbury for example.)
Key findings include:
• 71% of authors thought their publishers’ editing was good or excellent. Similar (or larger) proportions rated their publishers good or excellent on copy-editing, cover-design and cover copy.
• Only 39% of authors felt their publishers’ marketing made excellent or good use of the authors’ own “skills, passion, contacts & digital presence.”
• Over 60% of authors felt marginalised or worse by their publisher when it came to marketing strategy.
• 74% of authors reported that their publisher never solicted feedback (“eg: did they ask you how you felt about their overall performance?”)
• We asked, “For your next book, if a different reputable publisher were to offer you the same advance as your current one, would you move to the new house or stay where you are?” 37% of authors said they’d stay, 33% said they’d move, and the balance (30%) answered “Don’t know”.
• Conversely, 66% of authors with literary agents said they would prefer to stick with their current representation, while only 11% reported they’d prefer to move agencies.
• The median advance of author with literary agents who sell their work to Big 5 or other large trade publishers is just USD20,000 / GBP13,000. Only 7.6% of authors agreed with the statement that “Publishers pay their authors well”.
• Only 15% of authors thought that self-publishing would earn them money overall (that is, “my ebook gains would more than make up for any loss of advance/print income.”)
The complete dataset is available here. Harry Bingham (of Agent Hunter) gives his own conclusions here.
About Agent Hunter: Agent Hunter is the UK’s leading online directory of literary agents and agencies.
About Harry Bingham: Harry is a crime novelist. He also runs Agent Hunter and the Writers’ Workshop, the UK’s leading consultancy for new writers.More info
About Jane Friedman: Jane teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia. Previously she was publisher and editorial director of Writers’ Digest, the USD10-million multimedia brand.
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