Any time you're negotiating, it pays to know everything about you can about the other party. Negotiating an author contract is no different. Even if knowing the origins of a publishing company won't come up in the negotiations, having a basic understanding of the structure and jargon can at least keep you from looking like the new kid in school.
So in an effort to keep you looking like the savvy writer you are, here is the first installment of my "Publishing 101" series. Sharpen those pencils, class is in session!
Fun fact: the recorded history of the publishing industry is over 1,200 years long.
As you can imagine, a lot has happened and a lot has changed over that period of time. I think that as a writer, an editor, an agent, a publisher, or literally anyone within a ten-foot radius of the publishing industry, it’s good to have at least a general idea of what went down to bring us to where we are today so you don’t look dumb when someone asks you what you think of the latest merger. Obviously, 1,200 years is a lot of info for one letter—you can cover that on your own time. Instead, here’s a brief overview of the history of American publishing.