Publishing news is full of doom and gloom as of late. Ever since 2011 and numerous reports of independent (of a publisher) author success, I see a new article every week about why indie authors are ultimately going to fail and why ePublishing is evil and destroying the publishing business.
There was a Greek philosopher who once said something akin to “This younger generation will be the death of us all!” May have been Socrates. Maybe Plato. I don’t remember.
But guess what? We’re all still here. The world is vastly different, yes, but we survived the past. We can surely survive the present and the future if we’re adaptable to it.
Sadly the generation of writers, publishers, agents, and editors who liked how things were and are fighting our advancement into the future really do think the ship is sinking.
You can see it in their reaction to ePublishing. There are hundreds of articles condemning the self-published as writers who couldn’t make the cut. Publishers and agents are opening arms of their business dedicated to helping self-published authors clean up their manuscripts and publish them as eBooks. All because sales are down and from my understanding, indie authors are giving the big publishers a run for their money. Much like Henny Penny, the old-school thinks the sky is falling and they’re running amock shouting it to whoever will listen.
I have expressed my opinion of independent (of a publisher) authors, the rise is self-publishing and ebooks in this blog time and time again. I see no reason to really repeat myself. However, I do have a few things I’d like say in response to all of the panic and mayhem I keep reading.
1. I don’t believe the sky is falling. Relax. The world hasn’t ended and nobody is dead. Now that’s not to say publishing is going to stay the same as we know it, but there’s no point freaking out. Change is inevitable. An industry without change is stagnant.
2. I don’t believe all the crappy self-published authors will deter readers from reading or keep good authors from finding and attracting readers. People will eventually learn how to use the “preview” function on their e-Readers to attempt to weed out the dreck. I am tired of hearing how publishers and agents were the gatekeepers. Bullshit. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve read a big-six published book and wondered, “How the hell did this get published? It’s shit!” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — THE READERS are the gatekeepers. They always have been. Guess what happens to traditionally published authors who can’t sell enough books to cover their advance? Yep, you guessed it — they don’t get another book contract and their career is dead. Why? Because obviously readers didn’t like it. We write for readers. Without readers there would be no Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Nora Roberts. It’s the readers who helped make them. It’s the readers who could potentially break them.
3. While I agree a lot of self-published stuff could use a good editor, I’ve said the same thing about a few big-six books in recent years. No book is immune from a typo or two. I’ve also seen traditionally published books with poorly executed plots and gaping plot holes. Mind you I’m not making excuses for books that badly need editing, but using the preview function will usually highlight said books so you can steer clear of the really bad ones.
4. I’m tired of hearing how indie-authors aren’t taken seriously. Sure – some aren’t. If they can’t write their way out of a box then no one will take them seriously and they probably won’t sell many books. Really, the only people I see not taking indie-authors seriously are writers, publishers and agents who think self-publishing and ebooks are destroying the industry. My readers take my self-published work as seriously as they take my traditionally published work. ::shrug::
5. Ebooks are NOT the death of print books. Sure, ebook sales are up, but that’s because people have now found a way to read more and not clutter their bookshelves with books they may not have room for. That can be a huge issue for some readers (especially fiction readers). I know it was for me. The fact is that some people still love printed books and they’re very likely to buy a physical copy of books they love for the keeper shelf. I know I do. There will always be a market for printed books, especially for collectors. Printed books still account for between 3%-10% of my book sales depending on the month.
6. Not all indie-authors are people who couldn’t make it through the slush pile. Some of us have been traditionally published. For whatever reason we’ve decided to strike out on our own.
7. I don’t think there’s going to be an ebook bubble that will explode. Sure, I do think a lot of people who think writing is a get-rich-quick scheme are going to fall to the wayside, but I think authors who genuinely have an audience will persevere and keep writing books. I’ve heard that 80% of all people think they have a book in them. But how many of that 80% will finish that first book and how many of that percentage will really go on to write more than 2-3 books? Only the genuine writers will stick around; those who have been writing and telling stories forever. I’ve written over 10 books, numerous articles and tons of short fiction and guess what? I have more where that came from. I’ve got stories for years.
I guess this is really all I have to say about this right now. Stay tuned for more posts of a bizarre and unique nature here at The Quadrant, where writing, some witchcraft, gardening, politics and whatever else my brain dredges up meet.