Publishers follow the leader, who is the writer
A good publisher is a stamp of approval – someone to stand at the front of the crowd and exclaim, “This is worth reading!” Do authors necessarily need a publisher? No. Nor does having one guarantee any acclaim or success. The very heart of having a publisher is based in that stamp of approval. A publisher is someone who has the resources to get your work read faster than you could on your own, most likely. The logic is a lot like this video:
The intriguing question is do we really need publishers in an age of self-publishing in which anyone with a computer can pen eighty pages and press publish? Yes, we do. Here is a hypothetical: Person X wrote a book. Person X took that book to publisher after publisher, only to be shown the door. Resigned, Person X went to their rich friend, Person Y, and asked for help. Person Y, seeing an opportunity, offered assistance. Six months later a checkout line romance becomes a best seller for its literary quality. Does this change any opinion the publishers who first viewed the book had on it? Most likely not. But why the change?
Because people believe what they read on the internet. Take a social media site like Twitter for example. In a simple search for “why do people believe what they read online?” instances of Twitter hoaxes pop up left and right. One article, from the New Yorker, quoted an anonymous FBI agent, referencing a specific event, as saying, “One theory we’re considering is that people who spend time on Twitter eventually lose their capacity for critical thinking and become sheep” (Borowitz). If you can write something sensational and market it with a half a shred of competence, you can publish a best seller.
While this may not be the current landscape of publishing in the world, our book quotes Author Jason Epstein on publishing in the years after World War Two. Epstein writes:
“Trade book publishing is by nature a cottage industry, decentralized, improvisational, personal; best performed by small groups of people, devoted to their craft, jealous of their autonomy, sensitive to the needs of writers and to the diverse interests of reader. If money were their primary goal, they probably would have chosen other careers.” (Epstein).
A good publisher is denizen of credibility. While they may not get everything right or they, in our current society, may promote things other readers/publishers may scoff at, they serve a very idealistic necessity that enhances the creative process.
Borowitz, Andy. “People believe what they read on Twitter for some reason.” The Borowitz Report. The New Yorker. 4/24/2013. Web. 5/5/2014.
Epstein, Jason. Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002. Print.