I published my book with Simon & Schuster, but before I sold the proposal to them I put the book proposal – which is basically the idea for the book without the full story fleshed out – up for auction. I got five bids when I put out my proposal. There were more than five editors who wanted to make a bid, it’s just that some of those editors were at imprints owned by the same conglomerate, and conglomerates don’t let their subsidiary imprints bid against each other. In other words, because of previous publishing mergers, the auction had an artificially low number of bidders, meaning that the price was likely lower than it should have been.
Matt Stoller on.
Tl;dr extreme consolidation in the publishing industry hurts authors.
Five is, not coincidentally, the number of big publishing conglomerates that existed when Stoller sold his book (S&S, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan). If he’d done it today, he likely would’ve only gotten four bids…