Cost Cutting in Publishing

I noted on my personal social media a few weeks ago that I had read the newest release in a series by a best selling author and that it seemed to have skipped the copy editing stage. Then I read the most recent J.D. Robb release and it seemed to have skipped the proofreading stage – yes, those are two different stages in editing and neither is optional. So was this just the new normal? Are publishers skipping editing stages to save money because their profits are problematic?

Then the news hit last week that Nora Roberts had signed a new six book deal with St. Martin’s Press, including two J.D. Robb books. Roberts has been most recently published by a Penguin Random House imprint, Berkley/NAL. This news came just after more layoffs were announced at Berkley/NAL.

When I heard the news of Roberts publishing switch, I checked and, sure enough, the other book was also a Penguin Random House imprint publication. Maybe this is not a publishing wide issue then. Maybe it is just that Penguin Random House is in trouble and needs to save money – although I wouldn’t lower the quality of the product I’m selling if I want more people to buy it but that’s just me.

Only Publishers Weekly reported in February that Penguin Random House’s profits were up 30% in 2015. Clearly the issue is not that they don’t have money to spend on editing. So what the heck is going on over there? And is this a trend we will be seeing taken up by other publishers?

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