I heard a story recently which concerned me. It rang true but I can't confirm it. A publisher stated that for them to take on a book, it must be guaranteed to make at least £22,000. From that princely sum, the publisher would take £18,000 and the writer £4000. This struck me as a rather uneven distribution. Yet when I began to think about it I could see where that £18,000 went. The writer with his book was supporting a number of other occupations. An editor, a copy editor, a jacket designer, a publicity person together with the office premises they work from (most of them earning much more than the writer). Bearing in mind that a writer often has an agent who negotiated with the publisher, that agent must also be paid their 10%. Not a lot of money going to the creator of the story.
Compare this to an artist. The galleries that display an artist's work (i.e. publicise it) take a percentage of the price. I believe around 20%. That's it. The artist takes 80%. Okay, the gallery doesn't pay for paper and printing and distribution and lunches with reviewers etc etc.
Then we have the arrival of ebooks. It costs nothing to put an ebook on line. You want to publish a good book, so an editor is a good idea. You do need a jacket cover but it's little more than a thumbnail without the detail of a paper cover. I believe the on-line pitch is more important than the cover. Even more important are the tags, because Amazon Kindle Store uses these tags to publicise your book and reach your prospective readers.
So how will publishers react to this? Will the divisions of money between publisher and writer change when Amazon provides the publicity and distributes your book worldwide for free, when readers provide the reviews and there's no printing costs or distribution costs?
Will the writer get their just rewards?