Sunday, July 31, 2011

Surviving the Rapid Changes in Publishing

With the demise of Borders, the growth in e-publishing and self-publishing, and the growing number of big name writers who are walking away from new contracts offers to take control of their work and incomes, there’s plenty to talk about these days. For every Amanda Hocking who sells a ton of books and lands a lucrative contract with a large publishing house, thousands are floundering, and a small number are resorting to unprofessional tactics to sell books. Some publishing houses may not survive the turbulence. Writers are beginning to question the relevancy of agents, and good editors are becoming worth their weight in gold, yet many writers refuse to pay even a fraction of that for their services. So, how does one stay afloat in this sea of change?

Author Dean Wesley Smith authors interesting advice in his blog. He suggests not pursuing traditional publishers or agents right now. Too many publishing houses are struggling to deal with dwindling sales and rapidly diminishing bookshelf space in the stores. You can read more of his thoughts at

An increasing number of traditionally published authors are claiming that their e-book incomes are outstripping all of their print sales combined. So, do we all go the e-publishing route? Well, wait a sec, there are a lot of things to consider. Many of the writers who are doing well have already built a readership with numerous, traditionally published books. Aside from Amanda Hocking, who readily admits that she worked long and hard at social networking to promote her books, the vast majority of unknown writers aren’t going to make enough to live on unless they’ve written a good manuscript and are prepared to work their butts off promoting it. Even then there are no guarantees.

Some writers suggest that you write as much as you can (but not crap) and put it all out there, including short fiction to start building a brand name. Branding itself is a whole other topic for discussion, but many suggest it’s an essential marketing tool these days, just like book tours once were. Even blog tours these days don’t seem as popular for promoting a book as they once were.

I don’t have any clear answers to survival, but common sense tells me that working diligently at writing and improving your craft, networking (physically and virtually), promoting, and researching all the many aspects of the publishing scene, are as essential as ever. I will say, don’t be too quick to publish until your manuscript has been read by reliable critiquers and professionally edited. It will help make a big difference in your success. If you have any tips for survival, please share them. If we all help one another then we might do just fine.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo


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