Monday, July 25, 2011

What's Happening to Publishing?

This week I heard about a successful writer who has not been able to sell her latest trilogy based on a proposal although she has been trying for nearly a year. She's gone ahead with writing it but has no idea whether it will ever sell. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a beginner but to hear it about an established author was, to put it mildly, unnerving. Even more disturbing, as I discovered in trawling the net, it appears she's by no means the only one in this situation.

There's more happening out there in the publishing world. On her blog, Pub Rants, Agent Kristin has something to say about Random House's recent decision to change the way it calculates royalties.

Then, as so often happens, I came across this on Nicola Morgan's blog, Help! I Need a Publisher linking to a post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Both are blogs I look at frequently because they are full of practical good sense for surviving in the writing world. It seems there's a lot to worry about if you want to be a writer these days but while Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells us quite bluntly about all the problems she also offers some good advice about how to survive this period of turmoil.

Have a look at what they have to say but try not to fall into despair. I don't know why others choose to write but I started because I had stories to tell and share and that will not change. Yes, the writing world is in a state of upheaval but the truth is we don't know what will emerge out of the present situation. All we can do is keep our heads down and have faith that story telling will survive. It will because it always has. It may have a different form but human beings have an insatiable thirst for stories and it will need to be satisfied. At the same time we need to keep up with what is going on in the industry and adapt to those changes. Hard? Maybe but writers are imaginative and creative. We can do that.

It's going to be a bumpy road but I'll see you at the other end.

Edit: apparently the page isn't showing from the link to Pub Rants. I'm not sure why. Here's an alternative option. This link takes you to the blog. If you go to her post of June 29 and scroll down past the details about Courtney Milan's Unlocked, which she is justifiably excited about, you will find the part on Random House. The previous post about Harlequin is also interesting.


  1. There's so much scrabbling going on that the goal posts are shifting regularly.

    Everything I'm reading suggests that authors need to create their own platforms first and bring publishers to them. You can see that as an awful situation of a very cool one, in that the author is not traipsing cap in hand around to publishers begging to be noticed. Instead you can get out and build a fan base yourself.

    Seth Godin has some really interesting things to say on the Domino Project blog about the fact that the traditional publisher's model is to sell to strangers, while the new approach is selling to friends - building a tribe and getting them to help put the word out.

    Interesting times...As you say, authors are creative, we now need to put that creativity to work in marketing our books as well.

  2. It seems to me that ebooks are going to be the way of the future or if you prefer to have a paper book, self publication is gonna be the way to go.

  3. I think you are right, Fiona. We all need to make ourselves known, hard though it is for those of us who really don't like to put ourselves forward. It's a skill to learn like everything else to do with writing and we can do it if we set our minds to it.

    Jo, I don't enjoy e-books much. I'll use them if I must but reading needs to be tactile as well as mental for me to get maximum pleasure. So I'm hoping that paper books will remain for a long time.

  4. I think most of the current major publishers won't exist in the very near future. Publishing will probably be dominated by Google, Amazon, Smashwords and Apple, maybe Facebook if they decide to get into it through applications like Goodreads. Amazon already has four print publishing sections, as well as all those who self-publish ebooks on it. I haven't heard much about Apple lately so I wonder how well their ebook store is doing. I wonder how many ebooks are read on ipads.

    For print copies, POD. But it seems to have missed Australia.