I've been writing for about three decades now, seriously writing, that is, and I've been involved over those same thirty years in just about every aspect of books, publishing, editing, writer's groups, etc. All of it has brought me to some conclusions that - in the end - led me to form Crossroad Press.
All my professional writing career, I have waited on people. I have waited on editors. I have waited on agents. I have waited on agents to wait on editors, and then waited again after said editors either forgot they had a book, lost a book, pretended to be reading something, or moved to another publishing house. I have jumped through hoops for agents - and - in the end sold all of my books, bascially, myself, while letting them netotiate some things after-the-fact. At some point I noticed a shift in the writing world, where authors became so desperate to have an agent, and to keep said agent, that they lost sight of a simple fact. Agents represent authors. Author's work for publishers. Agents work for authors. It has all gotten a little crazy, but this was conclusion #1.
1) Authors are not valued in the degree that is appropriate by most publishers, or most agents.
This is the point where I need to say - it's not true of every publisher, or every agent. There are always good and bad relationships, and good and bad experiences. This is a general conclusion, and it leads to the next.
2) The financial dynamics of publishing are horribly skewed.
3) The output of publishing is determined in far too great a degree by marketing and sales, and often by people who haven't read a book that was not related to finance, marketing, or sales since graduating high school.
There is just no reason in the world why publishers should keep 80 to 90 percent of the money made on a book. In most cases, there is no reason why an agent should expect 15 percent. Lately a lot of authors have sort of woken up out of a stupor and posted figures online, showing sales in the hundreds of thousands of copies, for which they were so excited to be published that they signed away most of the money. Others have discovered that no one watched their royalties closely over the years, and the amounts they were paid simply don't add up against the sales figures. This happened to me when I discovered I had a best-selling trilogy in Spain - and the publisher had never bothered to pay me any of the royalties owed on ANY of my six books with them for foreign sales. Part of the reason for this is conclusion 1 above.
When I set out to create a publishing company (well, when I accidentally created one) I determined these things would be the guiding principles.
a: Authors would get most of the money made.
b: I would do anything and everything in my power to be transparent, and to communicate with said authors regularly and quickly.
c: I would listen and give authors input on covers.
d: If a horror author suddenly wanted to write a book about fluffy unicorns, I would not question their artistic direction and try to force them to write horror again, or to do horrible things to the fluffy unicorns.
e: My contracts, and my royalty statements would be clear, on time, and absolutely scrupulously honest.
f: No one would have to wait on payments - they would go out on a regular schedule.
I dont' claim to know everything about publishing, or writing. I am becomeing more successful at both daily. I am learning, and passing what I learn along to those I work with. I am gaining new properties and authors at an almost alarming rate. Why? Because conclusion #1 above does not apply at my company. The author is always first.