Open up any book on your shelf and examine the copyright-title page for credits. The list is woefully short: Publisher, author and in many cases cover design or photographer. That's it. It's as if they were the only talents behind the project. It's been a long standing tradition that the book cover's design must be credited. (Chip Kidd credits this for his career choice.) Photographers are often given credit, many times in lieu of payment by publishers. But more often than not, most of the contributors are kept a secret, unless the author has had enough contact with them to include them in their acknowledgements.
Usually, a book has an executive edtior, a line editor, proof reader/copy editor, and a host of advance readers . There's also the book designer (layout, illustrations, eBook conversion and formatting). In many cases, there's a transcriber or for a foreign release, a translator. To support the launch there's a promotions team and a publicist. But in too many situations, they go unthanked and unrecognized for their efforts. If they want to cite a book they've worked on in their resume, it's hard to prove, and not verified by the book. This is a travesty!
The book publishing industry is the last hold out when it comes to giving all of its contributors the credit they deserve. The movie industry lists every contributor down to the best boy and the grips. Same goes for software and gaming. Magazines have a mast head at the front of each issue that even lists sales reps! Why no love for publishing talent?
The first explanation I've received is that "It's just an oversight." One publisher said, "Only the cover designers really care." One publisher explained that they don't like to tout their employees that publicly, as it can lead to competitive poaching. When I asked one publisher to refer his free lancers to Net Minds, he explained that the last thing he'd want is for them to be fully committed with projects. "When they are hungry," he explained, "they are highly motivated and negotiable." There are a handful of publishers that have seen the light, and started to give proper attributions, but they are too rare.
I believe this lack of attribution leads to the (current) misguided notion that authors only need a cover design to release their book successfully. To the casual observer, the author is the writer/editor/proof reader and does all the PR and marketing. While that may occur in the extreme cases of .99 self-publishing projects, NO successful books are a one-person-show. Not even close. Anybody will tell you it takes an army to make a movie or a tribe to publish a magazine. And the credits issued teach them so! If we don't reverse this ill-logic soon, we may see the book publishing bubble burst, as readers flee a market riddled with poorly produced books.
At Net Minds, we are committed to giving every team member on a book project full credit. They will be listed at the front of all of our books. For eBooks, there will be links for more information about them. We can only hope that this spurs the major publishers to do the same. After all, how can you build up a reputation and your business if you don't get credit for your work?
Tim is a bestselling author and former Yahoo! executive with a mission to disrupt the traditional publishing and self-publishing industries and share knowledge with authors looking to publish and market high-quality books.Follow @sanderssays