5 Publishing Industry Trends for Writers to Watch

Writer Unboxed

Today I’m a guest at Writer Unboxed, where I discuss five publishing trends that writers should keep an eye on. Here’s a brief excerpt related to contracts:

By the time I left trade publishing (2010), the contracts were being tweaked every 6 months to reflect a changing business environment and new opportunities in digital publishing. I’m starting to wonder if there will ever be a “typical” contract again, given the increasing number of variables. Consider:

  • The increasing leverage of successful self-published authors (see Hugh Howey and his traditional publishing deal that allow him to keep his e-book rights).
  • New digital imprints or start-ups that offer very different contracts than established outlets—and rightly so, though some are good contracts and others are bad, more on that below.
  • Print publishing deals and distribution rights are becoming more and more like subsidiary rights. In other words, they’re not always the most important or profitable right for an author to license.
  • Foreign and translation rights will become increasingly important as e-book sales grow in international markets.

Unfortunately, most publishing contracts are closely guarded and not available for public review. So what is an author to do? Here’s my advice.

Visit Writer Unboxed to keep reading.

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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