Friday, May 7, 2010

Publishing Ramble

As a first time author about to finish the first draft of my novel, I naturally have been doing some research on getting published, learning what I can, to hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls of traditional publishing. There is a lot of information out there, but I was able to sift through some of the muck, and find some things that gave me hope. My confidence in getting published is now much higher, and my dream that my book will find it’s way into the hands of appreciative readers nation, and even world wide is much closer than I once thought. I’ll attempt to share what I found.

The traditional ways of getting published are still the most attractive, although I think this attraction is more and more about the tradition and notoriety of being able to say “I’m published”, than it is the deal you get when you sign over your rights. Now days an author is required to do much more in the realm of marketing than authors even ten years ago. And the fees of the people who we thought were there to take care of those things, remain the same, and in some cases have grown. But this is not new information to most of you, so why am I writing this gibberish you ask? Bear with me, I’ll get there.

The Information age is an ever changing, ever moving force that publishers, it seems, have not fully faced yet. Or if they have faced it, they don’t have a clue on how to jump on its swift bandwagon in a way that will make traditional publishing a viable option in the future. The force of the information age is unstoppable, powered by the consumer’s insatiable desire for any and all media/information. To get this at the touch of a button isn’t good enough anymore, it has to be in our hands, and have options to press a virtual button, or give verbal commands to get to the desired Information. Sometimes user interaction isn’t even necessary, with automation, and scheduling we can sit back and let the bits and bytes come to us. It’s an incredible, fascinating, and imaginative world. But it is a world that has little room for old outdated methods, and it is quickly gobbling up industry after industry, and changing how those industries think, and develop.

This change has been a good thing for the most part, I mean who would want to go back to listening to 8 track tapes. I certainly wouldn’t, and I have no idea what that was like. What about VHS? Anybody? And can you even compare modern video games to pong? (an early video game resembling the real life game of table tennis, that consisted of two lines that represented paddles, and a small square ball that slowly bounced back and forth as the players moved their paddles in front of it).There is obviously a place for individuals to hold on to nostalgia by listening to records, or watching old movies. (I myself am one of these). But I’m talking about society as a whole. I don’t know anyone who would actually consider going back to a time when, in order to call someone you had to find a pay phone, or wait till you got home. The list of industries changed by the Information age is massive, and I believe the publishing industry is about to get an electronic makeover of epic proportions.

Fear not! This might seem like a scary thing to some, but I believe it will be a good thing for writers. E-books are the thing of the future. I think it will take longer for them to take the reins from paper books, and even longer to make paper books obsolete, if it ever does. But they are here, and gaining popularity, especially now that the hungry consumer has many choices on which to read them, like the Kindle, the Nook, Sony’s reader, and the oh so popular Apple Ipad.

With the oncoming surge of e-books, so too comes a surge of opportunity. There are many writers who are by no fault of their own, unable to get an agent and therefore unable to get published. Some of them have written just as good a novel as some that have been published, yet for whatever reason they have fallen through the cracks. Bad Query letter perhaps? Maybe, But with e-books, anyone can get published. Okay it’s self-publishing, which for some reason has become a dirty phrase in the industry. Hmmm, I wonder who started that Idea. The fact is, you don’t have to be published in the traditional sense to sell your books, even to the mass market. There are current authors who have become disenfranchised with the way the industry works, so they have set out on their own to sell their manuscripts as e-books. I read a blog recently where the author talks about his success with self-publishing his e-book using Amazon's kindle alone. You can read his blog here. He claims to make 100,000 in a five year span per book. He also mentions a couple of other authors who got similar results using the same method. Okay it’s not going to be the Stephanie Meyer, or J.K. Rowling story we all secretly dream about, but if you have five books out there that’s a decent living, and what if you have ten or twenty books? Not to mention there are other self-publishing avenues that he doesn’t include.

My point of this ramble, is that the power is shifting from the publisher, to the author. Imagine as an author not having to worry about writing a query letter, or pitching to an agent, who decided the minute you walked in the door, she wasn’t going to represent you. You write what you want, when you want. Of course you’ll want to write something people will want to read, but you are in complete control. You decide whether or not the book needs more kissing scenes not the publisher. This to me is an exciting thing, and even though right now it’s still advantageous to publish the traditional route, self-publishing is an option, and it’s becoming a better and better option as the power shifts.


Reana said...

I really liked this post James, it gives me a little hope and I feel a bit more empowered by the whole idea. Thanks for sharing it with us.

loislane said...

I am amazed! $100,000 in five years on a self-published book? Wow. Who is the author and what is the book?

Very cool post James, and I totally agree with you. E-publishing really is the wave of the future. I'm sure it would entail a lot of marketing on your own, but after our conference I guess it is about the same with traditional publishing.

Jojomama said...

SO true. Same thing with the music industry and even film. Powerful people without talent have always found ways to harness those who do and make money off their creative efforts. Now technology is helping to cut out the middle man and put the power in the people. It will be interesting to see what the big guys do when the house of cards comes down.

Jennifer Jenkins said...

I agree. However, my concern with e-publishing in general lies in quality. There are thousands of well-written books out there that frankly will never be published. Ever. It's a sobering thought. Still, I can't help but think of the reluctance a reader might experience from taking a chance on an e-book vs. a traditionally published book. Especially when both are available at the touch of a button. How will the particular reader sift through the sands of good and bad writing without some system of credibility and judgment? It's tricky business. Then again, how do you measure art?

Wow. I think I've just given myself a headache. Going to bed......

James Lewis said...

The Author's name is Joe Konrath. If you search his name within Amazon, you'll see that he has actually written many books. Most are e-books, but there are a few paperbacks and one or two hardcover books.

These people who are self-publishing e-books are selling them for $.99 to whatever. Obviously the newer you are to the game the lower you'd want your price. This would open up your market to a large group of people who would be willing to throw down a buck to check out a new book. I have purchased a few of these kind of books even before I heard about Mr. Konrath.

With e-publishing you alone are responsible for every detail of getting the book ready and marketed. With traditional publishing, more and more the writer is responible for many aspects of marketing. Soon the responsibilities will be the same, and writers will be doing all the marketing, and all the prep work, and unless the publishing houses do something that makes the writer not ask the question "Why do I need a publisher?" The answer will be, "you don't".

In a perfect world, the two will co-exist, providing diffrent options for writers depending on their preference or market. Multiple options is always a good thing.

The Empress said...

Well, first of all, I don't consider this a ramble b/c I was able to absorb so much information from it.

I came here through another blogger's blog's blog...and I am learning so much.

I've been working on my YA novel for 10 years now, it's winding down..and I don't know the next step. So, this was timely for me.

Thank you.

Post a Comment