The publishing industry
As a baby writer, I was always curious about the industry. I remember going on a school trip to what in my head I termed as a “book factory”, and being awed by the scale, the sheer production of a print press. It always seemed like a faraway, unreachable kind of place, this place where books are made. As a graduate, I had vague sort of dreams about going to work for a publishing house. “I work in publishing” sounds fantastic, right? But after I started in digital more than a decade ago, I realized that I too, worked in publishing, just a different sort. Blogging is self-publishing! There is a “publish” button. Every time I uploaded content to a website, I was publishing.
Now with a couple of novels in hand, I felt it was my duty to educate myself on the publishing industry – the print industry: the history, the inner workings, the business of publishing. It’s such a curious contrast: the art versus the business, and one I’m keen to constantly interrogate. Being a businesswoman myself, I can totally understand that books are “products”, but I get how many writers and creative types wouldn’t. Anyway, here are a handful of the best podcasts about the publishing business that are designed to help writers truly understand the business end, rather than the craft (there are hundreds of other podcasts about the craft of writing, by the way).
The five best podcasts about the publishing business
1. Print Run
Literary agents Erik Hane and Laura Zats go deep into the week’s latest publishing news on the Print Run podcast, offering an insightful, fair and sometimes scathing take on the inner workings of the industry. They aren’t afraid to stand up to the man (see their opinion piece on Publishers Weekly about why books should not be treated as “essential” during the pandemic). There is stuff in there for writers too – write tips and subscription-based content on queries and first pages – but the most value I find is from their no-holds-barred take on the business. This is truly one of the best podcasts about the publishing business out there. Fascinating stuff.
2. The Manuscript Academy
Fronted by literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer and writer Julie Kingsley, the Manuscript Academy is a twee podcast that investigates the state of things mainly through interviews with industry insiders, in an attempt to bridge the gap between writers, agents and editors. The writing tips are just fine, but it’s the interviews, consultations and live feedback from people who have been living and breathing the industry for years that hold the most value.
Although this podcast stopped about a year ago, I’m eagerly making my way through the back catalog of PubCrawl (cool name). Hosted by author and former editor S. Jae-Jones (JJ), and literary agent Kelly Van Sant, the two discuss the ins and outs of the lesser-discussed details of the publishing process, such as money, contracts and going on submission.
4. Published by Greenleaf Book Group
There are plenty of self-publishing podcasts out there, but this one presents an interesting take on hybrid publishing from the Greenleaf Book Group. Focusing mainly on non-fiction, this dives deep into the business end, looking at how author platform can be used to drive success. While not personally relevant for me, I found Greenleaf CEO Tanya Hall’s interviews most edifying.
5. Shipping & Handling
And finishing up our five best podcasts about the publishing business, Shipping & Handling offers a super fun take on the industry from chatty literary agents Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. and Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary. There’s a wide array of topics under scrutiny, but the depth of analysis into the inner workings of traditional publishing is where I found the most value.