Monday, September 16, 2013

You've got to be brave to be an author...

Brave New World: Publishers and booksellers are perishing. But how are ebooks, online bookstores, self-publishing and other new industry developments affecting authors? Is it a great time to be a new writer or are things too shaky for comfort?

 by Meredith Cole

There are more ways than ever before for a writer to find an audience. But their audience is also distracted by all the ways there are to find stuff to read... Is this good or bad? Depends of course on who you ask.

Traditionally published authors generally come down on the side of "bad news." They worked hard over the years to cultivate relationships with indie bookstores, newspaper reviewers, etc. Now many watch in horror as writers who never had an agent or publisher, self publish and suddenly become a success under the new system. There are algorithms to memorize, and social media to master--and who has time to actually write anymore?

Jeff Bezos thinks it's good, of course. And so do many authors who, after being dumped unceremoniously by their publishers, are now able to republish their backlist in ebook form and make money off of it. And authors who could never get traditional publishing to "buy into" their books think it's an exciting new opportunity. They're making money of their writing (some anyway) and getting feedback via Amazon comments, etc., on their work. They've found fans.

What do I think? I think it's the system we have right now, so we need to all find a comfortable place to be in this "brave new world." It's probably not the end of the world, and it's very likely not the best thing since the printing press was invented. It exists somewhere in the amorphous middle.

When the dust has cleared, we will have less independent bookstores (bad). We will have libraries that look different--probably less books and more computers (ugh). We may or may not have more readers--depending on who you ask. But we will still have writers writing. Some will make a lot of money, some nothing--and most of us will probably be somewhere in the middle. We'll write our stories which will hopefully find new and interested readers, whether on ebook, paper or transmitted into someone's glasses.

5 comments:

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Very rational approach to the industry today. I'd rather write than complain.

Meredith Cole said...

You're always an inspiration to me, Terrie! Reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers "Wag more, bark less"...

Barry Knister said...

Meredith--
I would add one thing to your useful summary. I fit into one or more of the categories you describe who are being given a "second chance" by way of indie publishing. But after downloading quite a few commercially successful ebooks, and visiting the "Look Inside" pages of many others, I've come to a conclusion: "the tail is wagging the dog." By this I mean that marketing is more important than quality. If the indie writer knows how to work the Amazon system, and is savvy about social media, s/he doesn't need a good book. True, some mediocre books have always succeeded through marketing, but I'm convinced this is much more the case now. What do you think?

Meredith Cole said...

Interesting point, Barry! I'm not sure how many not so great books sell just because they have great marketing... But I hope it's not the case, and the truly well written books do find their audience.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Excellent explanation! In the end, writers write and will find their audience once way or another.