The Work Of A Publisher
A Publisher accepts the works of writers he likes, edits, proofreads, designs the layouts and cover, prints and markets to a targeted audience. It is a very long process that needs the experienced businessman passionate about promoting books to walk through successfully.
THE PUBLISHER AS A BUSINESSMAN
According to Lisa Buchan, a Guest contributor to Frankfurt Book Fair owned blog, Publishing Perspectives, the first publishers were essentially patrons – people who sponsored a writer they liked. They had the money and influence to publish the writer’s work and could discuss it with influential people who might buy a copy of the book for their personal library.
Creative people, like sculptors, painters, writers, were completely at the mercy of their noble patrons. Being noble, these patrons were not investing in a creative person – they were so rich they did not need to generate income. They were simply showing off their superior discernment by surrounding themselves with artists and artworks unique to their house.
Very often a Publisher was a printer or other middle class champion who believed a writer’s work was so invaluable it should be published for posterity. They then started a campaign to raise funds to publish a writer’s work [Shakespeare’s works were brought to the world this way – after his death.]
Fast forward a few hundred years and we can see the legacy for this patronage model in our publishing industry. Publishing houses pay advances to writing talent identified by their editors or agents. The Publisher receives manuscripts, polishes them, designs and prints them as books, and then pours money into advertising and sales promotion to generate maximum sales.
Publishers need to generate a profit to be able to invest in new titles, but publishing is a hit or miss business – many titles make a loss, with just a few good ones contributing the majority of income for re-investment.
The 21st century Publisher is a business oriented literary enthusiast. He is interested in producing quality books that will stand the test of time and most importantly, break even from selling them.
In Nigeria, Publishers device several strategies to break even from selling their books; some liaise with the Ministry of Education to recommend their books to state owned secondary schools, others employ sales representative who travel around bookstores in search of bookstore managers that will be convinced enough to buy their books.
Nowadays, Publishers in Nigeria have built branded stands and printed large format banners advertising their books and authors. Publishers visit banks, supermarkets, outings that attract people, displaying their books and brand to prospective clients.