Advantages & disadvantages of working with multiple publishers
Jason Wrench, Associate Professor in Communication and Media at the State University of New York at New Paltz, share some advantages and disadvantages of working with multiple publishers.
You learn what you like and don’t like about the publishing process. First and foremost, one of the biggest advantages to having multiple publishers is you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Some publishers are a lot more hands-on during the writing process, while others are almost completely hands-off until the entire manuscript is finished. I’ve always been someone really good at keeping deadlines, so I don’t need an editor to help me with that, but I really do like getting the feedback along the way. I’ve experienced both, and have found that I would rather alter how I’m writing a book to meet expectations along the way than have to rewrite the book after I’ve finished.
You are free to shop projects around. When you develop multiple relationships with editors, you have a lot more freedom to shop a specific project around. I had a book topic that I thought was a really good one, but one of my editors wasn’t interested at the time because he had just signed a similar project. Fast-forward a couple of years and that project is now under contract because I found a different editor who was as excited about the project as I was.
You get to see what different editors need. When I am at conferences and conventions, I regularly talk to a variety of editors. Editors are often looking for specific titles, and I’ve signed a number of contracts because I’ve been willing to take on projects that editors were seeking. For example, a friend forwarded me an e-mail that a publisher was looking for an editor of a multi-volume series in my content specialization, and I contacted the editor immediately. Now, that series will be coming out next fall. If I had stayed tied to one publisher, I would have passed up this exciting opportunity.
Another example involves my relationship with Flat World Knowledge. A few summers ago I was reading about the new open-text initiative and by chance came across Flat World Knowledge’s website. I was intrigued by what they were doing to make textbooks affordable and reached out to see if they were interested in publishing a public speaking textbook. That book became the first book in their new communication list in November 2011. If I hadn’t given myself the opportunity to shop for projects I find interesting (no matter who the publisher was), I would have missed out on working on a fantastic project with an innovative publisher.
It becomes a juggling game. Typically when you sign a contract there is a specific due date for the finished manuscript. However, once that manuscript is to the publisher, their process for turning that manuscript into the printed form varies. As such, from October 2011 to October 2012 I’ll have six different books published. Trust me, I did not plan this when I signed those contracts. I got ahead on some books and the publishing process was slower with others. I say this to emphasize that I’ve spent the greater part of this year juggling projects with five different publishers. If all of the project were with one publisher, you could probably more evenly space out projects in various stages.
It can be difficult to develop strong relationships with editors. One of my biggest regrets is that I haven’t developed overly strong relationships with all of my editors. I definitely have closer relationships with some editors, and I’m more likely to work with them again than I am with editors I really don’t know.