Posts for Writers
Books for Writers
Thanks for posting this. Delivery systems have changed, but I think self publishing is still about speed and control. And often, frustration with the conventional agents & publishers business model. Besides, 4900 copies sold means you influenced 4900 writers. Pretty cool when you consider what they may have written in the years that followed.
Thanks, Mark. I’m especially pleased to have the book eVailable; I’m still hearing heartening things from people who took the Write For Your Life seminar back in the 80s and have positive results to report.
For me, the important thing about eBooks is that they have given more writers a way to sell their work. Historically stone tablets could only be written by kings and pharaohs, then print books came along and offered a place for a select few who were lucky enough to break in, and now self publishing offers a chance for every person with a call to write to have a shot at a career. We can still make physical books with POD if need be, but the great thing about the technology is that it is bringing down the walls of the kingdom and making writing and publishing a more democratic profession. The reader gets more variety and more convenience, the writer gets a wider audience, and the publisher gets lost.
Thanks. Another way to look at this, of course, is that the new world of self-publishing has removed talent and competence as basic requirements. But I think the market will sort that out effectively enough. The publisher-as-essential-gatekeeper argument strikes me as specious and self-serving, esp. when you look at the crap they’ve been ushering through the gates all along. But I think there’ll be a role for publishers, although it will surely be a different one. (Consider editors, who’ve found a new role to play, performing work-for-hire for writers; they’ve done so in response to the publishing industry’s abdication of the performance of in-house line editing.)
Great post. Yes our attachment to physical books is a curious thing. I equate it to a collection of trophys setting on my mantle. However, I have to wonder if that will remain the same with the first generation of school kids that goes from kindergarten through college with all e-text books.
CJ, you raise an interesting question, and one I suspect only time will answer. Change is coming at such a pace these days, perhaps in all spheres of human activity but so obviously in writing and publishing, that I’m suspicious of predictions set more than two or three weeks ahead.
I sent my twin nieces Kindles for Christmas, and they loved them. Now it’s time to send them birthday presents, and my first thought was a gift certificate to help them feed their new pets. But I think I’ll order some physical books for them instead. It feels more like a tangible present that way—but don’t ask me why. (And I’m not sure it would feel that way to the girls. Or to anybody, ten or twenty years down the line.)
Christopher hit the nail on the head there. Paperbacks may have been amazing, but they were still firmly under the control of the publishing industry. eBooks have allowed authors to skip over them and sell directly to the public.
I do also agree that editors and cover art have a big role in the future, as well as Indie publishers who help streamline the process without gouging the author’s royalties. Just one look at all of the hassle of formatting an ebook for ten different platforms creates an instant demand.
Re formatting for ten different platforms, one has to wonder if that won’t get streamlined before too long. (Not to mention the question of how many of those ten platforms will survive…)
Anbsolutely true. I am weeks away frome opening a small Indie e-publishing press and have been doing a lot of research in this area. With the amount of changes that are going it is never easy to predict, but kindle and apple appear to be growing by leaps and bounds while the others struggle to hang on. Maybe when that battle is more in hand, they will make the process much easier.
At the end of the day, on our journey home from the office, fields, garages, etc., the question remains; “Have you read So’n'So’s latest?” The question will never be, “How have you read So’n'So’s latest?” Just my 2¢…
Agreed. It’s ultimately the content, not the package it comes in.
Since I have no other way to contact you, i just have one question.
Can an editor really know after a few pages how good your novel really is?
If you get this please reply. Laszlo
Almost all editors can reject the vast majority of submissions within a few pages.
The only problem I see with self-publishing (and I have self-published two books so far) is that–now that “talent and competence have been removed” from the equation–you are competing with, instead of hundreds of other writers, thousands of writers, and you are your own advertising agency.
It seems that writers who self-publish will need to get creative to find their readers.
If you consider it, you’re facing the same issues that the traditional computer software industry is facing today; their main costs traditionally were similar in the physical production and distribution. Today, however, distribution can be dramatically simplified via a unified platform like Steam or Kindle or Google Books.
Today, a large amount of revenue isn’t generated from “What are the costs of production or distribution?” but is instead “How much do the content consumers enjoy what we produce?” The costs of distribution today is negligible, thus removing a large factor of the equation. What exists is the beginning of a realm of pure potential – that is, if things continue.
Things entirely hinge upon the constant existence of upstart, small scale, uppity means of speech. From blogs like Engadget to Ars Technica, to literary blogs like Literary Saloon and Powell’s Newsletter, you’re bound to see a dramatic shift in how books will be viewed and consumed. Inevitably, the initial media will be drowned out by noise – but, as Mel Brooks said famously, “With the birth of the first artist comes the inevitable afterbirth, the art critic.”
With no editorial oversight on content as strict as before, there can be more works like The Satanic Verses – works which force us to question our beliefs and trusts – something society could desperately use.
Lawrence, you are my hero! I am going indie, as you suggested, but I am bit long in the teeth (67), so I’ve started my Pat O’Malley mystery series a bit late in life. However, your books on writing fiction inspired me to give ‘er a go. I’ve received very nice reviews on Amazon for my first historical mystery in the series http://tinyurl.com/bl7zqa2 and I’ve even hired a publicist. I’ve almost completed the second in the series. Also, I’ve done an independent recording to sell on Amazon’s ACX. Oh, my detective is a Civil War Distinguished Medal of Honor winner, and he is patterned after Matt Scudder (non-drinker who has a Madame as his confidante). I must say, my father (now deceased) was an alcoholic, and I inherited his disease, and we shared many great hours reading your Matt Scudder novels. Thanks for that. I also teach college writing, and I teach my students about “spring forward and fall back,” one of the best techniques I have ever learned from a fellow writer. Thanks for that! Keep up the great work on behalf of indies everywhere.
I must state that my father and I shared many great “sober” hours reading Matt Scudder novels! I don’t want drinkers to get the wrong idea.
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