Monday, February 25, 2013

Editor Aubrey Poole Discusses the Value of Having a Publisher

*Quick announcement: I had to turn my word verification back on (which I despise) because I've gotten so many spam messages. I'm so sorry and hope this will not discourage you from commenting!

Today I am wrapping up my series on Indie vs. Traditional Publishing with a post from a very special guest, Sourcebooks editor Aubrey Poole. But if you have any additional questions leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer or find out. 

Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this ever-changing and increasingly important discussion.  The rise of the eBook has meant a lot of changes for the publishing industry, and I’m proud to be a part of an organization that has embraced those changes. Sourcebooks is a privately owned independent company that’s gained a reputation for being agile, forward-thinking and willing to experiment. So, we may not quite fall under the category of “traditional” publisher, but we definitely acquire, package, produce, market and sell books, and I’m very happy to talk a little more about what value a Publisher brings to its authors.
I can throw a lot of terms at you about each piece of the publishing process, like so:

But I’m going to break it down to one core idea: Discoverability.
What does discoverability mean? How readers find your book.  If they don’t know about it, they can’t buy it (or check it out), and they can’t read it. So, the billion dollar question is: how will readers find your book?
With the close of Borders and the increasing popularity of eReaders, brick-and-mortar stores are gradually decreasing in number, limiting the opportunity for chance discovery. It’s becoming less common for readers to be browsing a shelf to find their next must-read and more important for publishers (or self-published authors) to find ways to bring attention to their books.
So, essentially, a Publisher’s job is to connect authors to readers.
This is done in a variety of ways from creating eye-catching book covers (that look good as thumbnails), to writing intriguing jacket copy, to placing ads in magazines, to sending ARCs (advance readers copies) to bloggers, reviewers, booksellers and librarians, to booking spots on TV or NPR, to purchasing advantageous placement in Barnes and Noble (those front-of-store table displays aren’t free!) to making sure the metadata (title, author, pages count, age level, etc.) is sent to Amazon correctly, and more.
With all of the noise out there (347,178 new books published in 2011 in the U.S. alone), it’s a Publisher’s job to make your book be heard.
What about Amanda Hocking and E.L. James, you ask? Didn’t they become successful, bestselling authors without a “traditional” publisher?  Yes! They are part of the lucky few whose self-published eBooks got that magical word-of-mouth momentum combined with low price points that shot them to the top of the bestseller lists. But for every success story, there are thousands of self-published authors you’ve never heard of and likely never will. And, you may have noticed, both Hocking and James turned to “traditional” publishers to take their eBook phenomena and publish them in print to reach an even wider audience.
So, what does this all mean for you, the writer?  Self-publishing is a fantastic new and growing option that will become an important part of the publishing sphere and allow for more and easier access to information than ever before. And for some authors, it will be the right fit. I think it will be especially important for authors of controversial, innovative or niche subjects and genres fast converting to eBooks (like romance!). But in my opinion, a Publisher is still a writer’s best bet when it comes to finding an audience for you book.  

Aubrey Poole got her start as an editor correcting her friends’ grammar in high school, an effort which naturally guaranteed instant popularity. After a brief internship in the marketing department at Penguin UK, she started her first real job as a news assistant at The Real Estate Journal in Los Angeles. But when she was offered a position as a reporter, Aubrey thought it would be less scary to move cross-country to New York City and try to break into the book publishing industry.
Aubrey is now an associate editor at Sourcebooks, acquiring children’s books from picture books through young adult. Her first YA novel, Send by Patty Blount, was a Junior Library Guild pick, and she hopes to continue shamelessly courting librarians with her forthcoming middle grade novel The Ninja Librarians.


  1. I know a number of self-published authors who jumped at the chance to be traditionally published when an agent came a calling.

    One of the other advantages is the editors. With a traditional publisher, the chances are high you'll get a good editor. There are so many people claiming to be editors, it's tricky to find a good one that you can trust.

  2. "a Publisher’s job is to connect authors to readers." That is perfect, simple. I loved this post. It makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing your insight, Aubrey! And thanks for having her, Lisa.

  3. I've really enjoyed this series, Lisa, and you've done a fabulous job balancing the sides and options available.

    "Connecting authors to readers." I want that job. :-)

  4. So interesting to hear Aubrey's perspective. I'm really impressed with Sourcebooks. Their authors have done really well and I enjoy working with them on blog tours.

  5. Excellent and informative. Here's to Sourcebooks and their continued success.

  6. I think discoverability is the key component that is so hard for self-published authors to create. You can write a great book, but if no one reads it, it's a little like a tree falling in the forest.

  7. It can definitely be tough to market a book--or anything, really--all by yourself. I can see how traditional publishers would be helpful in getting the word out!

  8. Good insight about how self-publishing may the best route for certain genres or genre-busters. Discoverability is so critical, and these days there are so many new ways to discover books... but yes, on the other hand, so many things competing to gain our attention!

  9. This part is what gives traditional pubs the edge: " spots on TV or NPR, to purchasing advantageous placement in Barnes and Noble (those front-of-store table displays aren’t free!)..." AND I would add getting reviews from Kirkus, Library Journal, and other major reviewers who won't review (or charge $500 to review) for self-published authors and getting ads in publications like Entertainment Weekly, etc.

    Traditional publishers do still have the advantage in mass-media marketing. The question is whether you'll get it that marketing dedication from your publisher. And THAT should be the deciding factor. Otherwise, you're going to be working just as hard to get your book discovered and taking home about 75 percent less $$. :P

    GREAT series, LG! :o) <3

  10. I agree with Stina. The big difference is quality editors. Thanks, Aubrey for your insights!

  11. There's no such thing as an easy road if quality is what you seek. My take-away message from Aubrey is - opportunity. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

  12. Great points here. Each writer has a different publishing path set out for them, but having a good editor is important, no matter what path one chooses.

  13. Discoverability is such a good point! Self-pubbed authors can connect with readers, but it seems like so much more work than if you have the support of a publisher.

    Thanks for continuing to show all sides!

  14. Sorry about the Spammy People. I'm going nuts over at fb with them. Ban! Ban! Ban! and they just keep coming.

    As more and more writers publish, the harder it is to become visible. The great thing is that while some succeed more than others a lot more stories are available.

    Now to try and type in the right word/number so I can post this to you. :-)