Is Traditional Publishing Relevant?

I’ve discussed both traditional and independent publishing in the past.  While I see both as viable options with heavy pros and cons, neither is really surprise to the other in my opinion.  With the sheer difficulty, for good or ill, to land an publishing contract through the top 5, I’ve wondered how relevant it is going that rout in the age of the internet.

As I’ve discussed before the 5 main traditional publishers look for what sells.  Quality matters, but my impression is that marketability is the most important.  From a business angle, this makes sense to a degree.  They exist to make money.  That’s legitimate.

There was a time when having the rights of your creation locked up in a publisher made more sense.  Now? I honestly don’t know.  Yes, the traditional route earns one a level of prestige and the book in bookstores.  That last part is huge.  However, with more people shopping online, and bookstores struggling, how relevant is this practice?  If you don’t sell well in the first six months the publisher holds the rights to a story you can’t work on.

Now with independent publishing the market is saturated with low-quality works that aren’t edited.  Proponents of the traditional route will point to that as a reason to stick with the big 5.  In theory this is correct, the point of a publishing house is to not only give he author clout but to act as a gatekeeper to low-quality content.  In practice this isn’t always the case.  Also, the under-edited books out there on Amazon are due to laziness on the author’s part not the independent publishing platform itself.

Again, with the ubiquity of the internet, how relevant are traditional publishers?  I have thought about going that route in the future, but I’m not sure. Let me know what you’re thoughts are in the comments!

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