Jane Friedman’s brief post nails it quite well; just what is a publisher for? It’s unusual to find a commentator talking in such moderate tones. It’s not all or nothing, it’s one option among several.

The Passive Voice, comments on Ms Friedman’s piece as follows: “PG [the Passive Guy] suggests an additional question for authors, ‘How much is a publisher going to cost me?'”

“PG suggests that analysis of the true cost of a publisher must consider that the publisher will be costing the author money for the rest of the author’s life plus 70 years under typical tradpub contracts.”

“PG almost created a spreadsheet comparing costs of publishing vs. self-publishing, but decided that would lead down an OCD rabbit hole where he would spend way too much time. If anyone wants to build a spreadsheet and sends PG a link, he’ll probably do another post.”

Well I guess we know he’s not a friendly witness; but it isn’t all about money. Sure money comes into it, but publishers do have an expertise in getting writing noticed. In the past, when publishers provided the financial access to the printing press, they bankrolled the book, and most authors had no option. Now they do have options — but that doesn’t mean that a traditional publisher is worth nothing. My observation is that the first-time author craves the validation that getting a publisher contract brings.