Dorie-ClarkIt’s common wisdom in publishing: midlist writers are getting the shaft. Even bestselling writers—either traditionally published or self-published—can end up with surprisingly little when all is said and done. And wait. The biggest hoopla these days is over books from Harper Lee and Dr. Seuss. What’s happening to the seed corn, so to speak?

In a Harvard Business Review article headlined Harper Lee and Dr. Seuss Won’t Save Publishing, adjunct Duke professor Dorie Clark calls for, among other things:

1. More focus on career development of writers.

2. More sharing of sales data with them.

3. Creation of brand identities “a la Harlequin romances.”

4. “Connecting authors with each other” to share ideas including best practices.

5. More focus on quality.

Not everyone is pleased with the HBR piece. A HarperCollin employee named Pfnikolai Nikolai writes: “Were any of the subjects (major publishers) contacted for input or feedback for this article? Much of what is advocated is basic strategy that has been used by publishers for years. Rather than pitching her books and shilling for her publisher, the writer should have done more research and contacted publishers. A quick search provides recent news that HarperCollins (my employer) recently launched a data portal for agents which conflicts with writer’s claim that another publisher is ‘light years ahead of the competition when it comes to analytics.’ I expect better editorial management from HBR than allowing an article that seems to be an excuse for the writer to plug her recent book.”

That said, as a whole, there is definitely room for improvement in book publishing in the areas about which Dore Clark writes.

Note: Sorry: This post accidentally went online before it was completed.



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