A whole lot of people point to success stories like the self-published Amanda Hocking and say, “Hah! Those cold-hearted publisher types are dying, and we laugh at them and stomp on their graves!”
These people are stupid.
I often wish publishers were more cold-hearted. They’d get through submissions way faster if that were the case. But if publishers were less in love with books, they would not be publishers. Small publishers are dying – they always have been, and they always will be. It is an extremely financially shaky business in which MOST BOOKS ARE BOUGHT AND SOLD AT AN OVERALL LOSS TO THE COMPANY. Sometimes, large publishers are unlucky and they die too. Most large publishers survive on the occasional how-did-that-happen-exactly? bestseller. In short, they survive by picking the best books they can, and then crossing their fingers and praying that THIS book is the one that keeps the company afloat for another month.
People think publishers are cold-hearted because over 90% of books are rejected, usually without stated reasons. People are constitutionally incapable of believing that THEIR sweet precious manuscript that took five years to write is, in fact, terrible. (“But my mum LOVED it!”) These people are especially offended that “bad” books are published. Having read unpublished manuscripts, I assure you that publishers set a standard that is largely consistent and has saved the reading public from worse pain than you can imagine. Self-publishing often lowers those standards to, “Do you have a few thousand dollars? Then you’re a published writer, yay!”
Personally, I don’t see rich idiots as a threat to the publishing industry. I know enough to be grateful for the gatekeepers – and secretly or otherwise, so does the entire reading public.
*personal rant over*