Selena Robins, friend and fellow author on FB posted a story about a vendor who lost his business because he listened to negative advice and she likened it to the negative furor raging around the new state of the publishing industry. So many authors and publishers are predicting publishing’s dire future that it is sometimes hard to grasp objectivity or even discern any benefits that might be hidden in the weeds.
I’m fairly sure I’m in the minority here but I see a lot of positives in the current state of publishing. First off due to the amount of new e-book publishers, first time authors have so much more opportunity in getting published instead of having to pound the pavements and doors of major publishers as in the past. From what I remember you had to have either a reference or an agent to even submit a manuscript and then you were likely to end up on the slush pile in any case. The new self-publishing option appears to be forcing the majors to open up the process due to the competition from smaller publishing houses and the potential selling ability of self published authors.
Another benefit directly to the author is that with a smaller house or self publishing the author learns the editing process, cover art design (input mostly), and gains the always desirable credits that can pave the way for future representation and/or larger house signing.
Third, by signing with a smaller house or publishing their own book, authors are forced to learn how to market and promote their books themselves. This is the way of the world my friends. If you’re expecting a billion sales instantly through sales and marketing teams doing your work for you, perhaps you are in the wrong business. Even Debbie Macomber has to make appearances and do interviews and signings, regardless what else she might prefer to be doing—and she has a marketing team I’m sure. You’re not alone, however. Mostly likely all or almost all authors occasionally despair over the sheer size of competition from other authors all fighting for the choice slices Internet promotion: blog posts, interviews, and that platinum of all online promos—the Review. This includes me as well. But think of it like this: all this online work is free training for that day when you’ll fill auditoriums with people who drool over your writing methods and purchase your books to be signed.
And yet the debates still rage on; e-book versus print, traditional publishing versus self; paper versus Kindle, etc. and etc., ad infinitum and the doomsayers still stand on the corners raving about the publishing apocalypse to come.
I’m sure that some people will be offended and some will call me out on this, saying that I’ve simplified the situation and have no real grasp on the industry’s potential crisis.
All I can tell you is this: in 2006 I had no fiction published whatsoever (my journalism background notwithstanding). In 2007 I had several short urban fantasies published online. By 2008 I’d signed my first publishing contract and by 2009 my first novel and first book in the Future Imperfect trilogy was published in e-book format. At this standing, I now have a completed novel series, a novella in an anthology, and a print mystery co-authored with Loni Emmert as well as several short stories published in magazines. This is not bragging. I worked hard and long and endlessly to promote those books as much as humanly possible. What it is is an example of the speed and efficacy of today’s publishing status.
So what I’m saying to you is keep at it. Don’t abandon your work because of dire predictions and don’t stall yourself worrying about it. There are advantages to this state of flux and authors would be wise to take them where they can. Certainly the old standards work and if they work for you wonderful; if not try thinking of the potential benefits rather than hanging onto the doom and gloom too much. They are out there if you’re willing to seek them out.