Monday, October 27, 2014

The ironic full circle of traditional publishing to self-publishing.

Back in the days when I was submitting my manuscripts, one of the publishing houses I sent to was Penguin, owned by the Pearson Group. At the time their submission page was confusing as it told us they didn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts but then gave us an address to send them too.

These days they've started up The Monthly Catch, probably copying Allen & Unwin’s Friday Pitch. From their website:

“The General Publishing team at Penguin Group (Australia) is keen and excited to read new work from Australian authors, and as such we’ve developed the Monthly Catch. For the first week of every month, we throw our doors open to unsolicited manuscripts. In this time period (the 1st to the 7th of every month), please send through submissions based on the guidelines below.

We are only accepting submissions electronically – all hardcopy submissions will be recycled. And we are only accepting submissions in the first week of every month; anything that comes through outside of this time will not be considered.

When you send through your submission, you’ll receive an automatic email acknowledging receipt. All manuscripts are carefully read and assessed, but we can only respond to those who are successful. If we do not contact you within three months of submission, please assume that we have decided not to pursue your manuscript. No further correspondence will be entered into.

While we are unable to give feedback on every manuscript we receive, there are many avenues to help writers develop their manuscripts. See our advice for authors page for a collection of practical suggestions.”

Publishers are slowly learning while staying so far behind the pack it’s ridiculous. They really need an overhaul to get with the times of 2014 and the publishing world of today, as opening up to unsolicited submissions is a slow start.

From the times I subbed everywhere I learned about self-publishing, and now that I do that through Smashwords for distribution and Amazon for print and kindle, I have discovered some ironies in the grand scheme.

Though the years have gone by, it would seem I have been accepted for sale through Penguin!?!?!?!?! 

Yet I did not sub my m.s to Penguin, I haven’t since early 2011. Yet, here I am, selling my books through Bookworld (one of many places), which is ironically owned by Penguin. Or more specifically, The Pearson Group.

Let me explain:

Here in Australia, in the 1990s, Bookworld (a former Queensland-based bookselling chain) was absorbed into Angus & Robertson. The Pearson Group acquired Angus & Robertson and Borders from REDGroup that owned them, and killed them, and while the physical stores went bust they still ran the stores as websites. In 2012 Pearson decided to rebrand Borders as Bookworld. Pearson also owns Penguin Australia.

In 2013 in the UK, Pearson merged with Bertelsmann, the privately owned German company that owns Random House. Bertelsmann is Europe's biggest media group and also owns X Factor producer FremantleMedia. The world headquarters of the Penguin Random House joint venture will be in New York. It will employ more than 10,000 people worldwide. Pearson will control 47% of the Penguin Random House venture and Bertelsmann the rest.

Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India; Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa; Dorling Kindersley worldwide; and Random House’s companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile.

It’s a little confusing isn't it.

From Wikipedia:

Penguin Books Ltd. (est. 1935) of the United Kingdom was bought over by Pearson Longman in 1970. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. was formed in 1996 as a result of the merger between Penguin Books USA and the Putnam Berkley Group. The newly formed company was originally called Penguin Putnam Inc., but, in 2003, it changed its name to Penguin Group (USA) Inc. to reflect the parent Pearson PLC's grouping of all the Penguin companies worldwide under the supervisory umbrella of Pearson's own Penguin Group division. The different Penguin companies use many imprints, many of which used to be independent publishers.

So even though I used to buy my Nancy Drew Books from A&R, and even though Penguin owns Grosset & Dunlap who still prints the original 56 Nancy Drews, and even though I was rejected by Penguin and Random House, the irony of ironies, is that Penguin (although really Pearson), is selling my book anyway.

I love how the world goes around and brings you back full circle.

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