I need to blow off some steam. My turn to rant. I’ve been through it all, writing classes up the wazzoo, critique groups to choke a horse, one of those really, really bad-news literary agencies we all know about, the search for good representation and the rejects, the requests, the pitching big and small independent publishers and back again. The agreements, the contracts – you name it, I’ve been there. (Sheesh, and I thought two divorces were bad?) Through it all, I’ve developed an Author Success Coaching business using the expertise of more than 30 years experience to help make sure authors trying to gain readers/buyers for their books can get as much success as possible, even in this crazy, gyrating industry vacillation.
Where are we all going to be in two, five, ten years? All the horror stories are out there. Watching this industry mutate into what it eventually will be is like giving birth, only more painful. What’s all the fighting about? You can’t hold that baby in, you know. It’s gotta come out, gotta grow, develop and become what it’s going to be. The baby? E-publishing of course.
Aww, look how cute it is? A really special infant! One that doesn’t cost nearly as much as it’s cumbersome, paper and printed mass-quantity books siblings. This little baby can be anyone’s child; big publishers can sire it, small independent publishers can make them, even authors can do this! It’s a … miracle.
Now, let’s talk quality. I have always been a supporter of self published authors, always made sure to focus my consulting efforts on their difficult responsibilities for marketing and promoting themselves and their work. Let’s face it, if the publishing industry in any form is going to survive, we’ve all got to market and promote. But more than that … we have all got to fight for good quality writing! We all have to strive to be better and better. Nothing turns a buying customer off more than having a bad experience with a product. One or two bad meals and they never go to that restaurant again. A bad fit and they won’t be purchasing clothing at that store again. And … badly written stories will eventually turn them off to buying books by specific authors and even specific publishers.
We – authors, agents, publishers and even online book stores – are in the entertainments business and if we don’t know that, we’re all going to be up a creek without a paddle.
Like movies and sports events, we’re fighting for the customer’s discretionary dollar – and Lord knows, there aren’t a whole lot of those these days. Lucky for us, e-books cost much less – unless of course, some backward thinking traditional publishers have their way. But then again, even though they don’t seem to know it yet, they’re not running the show anymore, are they?
We can sell books anywhere, anytime, and at everyone’s convenience. No more worrying about what time a store opens or closes or if they have the book we want in stock. No more concerns about returns and the recall of advances. Sure, we may not be looking at advances the way we used to, but what we as authors are looking at is a much, MUCH larger percentage of our book’s sale going right into our pocket.
I can see how all of this would get caught in the old school publishing dinosaur’s throat, can’t you? Without all the mammoth expenses of the traditional publishing model, how can the huge publishers demand so much anymore? I may be a little high on “possibilities” wine here, but doesn’t e-publishing level the playing field? Like, for the first time EVER?
This transitional period is going to be all about rolling with the waves, keeping our knees soft and understanding that everything eventually settles out. Kinda like skiing down a double black diamond slope; don’t hold your breath, keep your eyes peeled, your skis pointed downhill, hips loose and whatever you do, don’t panic.
We’re going to get through this, and the authors, publishers, literary agents and multitude of advisers out there will all do just fine if we stop paddling in different directions. Pick a path and go.
Go e-publishing because if you don’t at least seriously consider it today, it will make all the decisions for you later, and not that much later. In two years, it’s estimated we won’t even have paper magazines or newspapers anymore, no more traditional libraries, no more mega or mini book stores, just the internet for buying and downloading books. Why fight when the tide is this strong?
The future is nipping at our butts, let’s just make friends and forge ahead with the author careers we want on this new, exciting playing field?