Given unlimited resources, how would you change the publishing world?
Again, where to start? I worked as an editor in trade publishing for more than fifteen years until I took maternity leave in 2011. My assessment is that big publishers have been slow to adapt to changing technology out of fear and a reluctance to look at how technology can really streamline outdated internal processes. To my mind, most are using outdated workflow procedures that don’t take advantage of the shortcuts technology can provide, particularly PoD and ebook-only releases. I think hardcovers and even paperback books will survive, but they’ll only be printed in response to customer orders. The old sale or return model will (thankfully) die a natural death and ebook success will be a measure of whether to invest in a print edition.
With my unlimited resources, I’d start my own company that published ebook editions first and print runs for those books that did exceptionally well. I’d also love to publish the stories of children in impoverished countries via a charitable publishing wing. I’d abolish royalties in my company entirely in exchange for a flat, up-front advance negotiating the rights for a contractual term (say five years). Authors would then be paid a series of extra bonuses if the book met certain sales targets of copies sold over the life of the contract, e.g. 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 etc. The company would provide contracted authors with expert editing and cover design services and with extensive, ongoing marketing for the life of the contract. It might be a risky strategy at first, but I imagine we’d be fairly choosy about which books we wanted to pick up and, hey, I have unlimited resources … woohoo!