In Defense of Publishers


The rise of digital self publishing has rekindled old arguments about the value of publishers. Authors often criticize publishers as merely providing packaging for their hard work. At BookRiot, Susie Rodarme explains the value of a good publisher:

Publishers know books. They know the industry upside down and inside out. They don’t just provide a printing and design service for authors; publishers provide expertise. And authors, you need expertise. We readers don’t have that expertise, no matter how many books we’ve read; it’s a whole different ballgame on the business end.

Working with a publisher is forming a partnership. Part of finding the right partner is finding someone who will offer you a fair deal. You don’t have to take the first offer, or any offer, if you don’t like their terms. But don’t knock what publishers bring to the table, because it’s irreplaceable to many of us as readers and customers.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →