Mark Terry

Friday, October 29, 2010


October 29, 2010
A few weeks ago, prior to their first marching band competition, the band director gave the kids a pep talk. One of the things he said was they were the "Now Generation," that they were used to getting instant gratification, and they had been rehearsing for weeks (about 8 or 9) without going to a competition (although they performed at football games), and now they were at that point where all their hard work came to fruition. (And finished 4th out of 4. Great performance, but bands 2-4 all scored within 2 points of each other. Some life lessons are hard).

I sort of latched onto the "Now Generation" comment. I suspect there's some truth to that, although I don't like those kind of generalizations. I also think that we're all part of a "NOW gestalt" that technology has laid at our feet--we carry our smartphones with us so we're never out of touch, we have voicemail, email, text messages, IM; if you want information, it's at your fingertips; if you want a movie or TV show, download it instantly; order a book for your Kindle and it's in your e-reader within seconds. Same goes for music. You don't even need to wait for your favorite song to come up on the radio, you just choose a channel on satellite radio or Pandora or...

You get it.

But it made me think about everybody who's skipping the traditional route to publication and throwing up (interesting combination of two words there) their books on Kindle and Smashwords. The phrase "not ready for prime time" comes to mind. "Impatient" comes to mind.

For those of us of a certain age, I'm sure we can remember the ads featuring Orson Welles where he professes, "We shall sell no wine before its time."

I don't doubt there are writers who are publishing their books before their time.

At the same time, I'm aware that most other arts (and skilled crafts, etc) have a "not ready for prime time" avenue for people to be involved with. It's understood, rather like playing in the minor leagues, that these people have skill, but they need experience before they can break into the major leagues (and some never do). Music has bars and smaller concert venues, schools, churches, etc. Acting has theater and even cable shows and local theater groups, professional or otherwise. Things like painting and sculpture have craft fairs, etc. And by and large, people go to them and enjoy them and the artists/musicians, etc., use them as a training ground to hone their chops and build an audience and create a "brand."

So maybe this new age of Kindle and e-publishing is a good thing. If someone writes crap and puts it up on Kindle, if people hate it, they're less likely to buy the next one and more inclined to slam it on a review site (not that there's any consistency or, gulp, honor, to those reviews), and unlikely to recommend it to their friends.

So maybe it's a good thing. Some have called it a democratization of the publishing process. I do think it tends to take some of the control out of the hands of agents and editors and publishers and more control not necessarily to the writer, but to the AUDIENCE. Which is kind of interesting.



Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

I have mixed feelings about it. I mean, I'm glad my stories were bought right off the bat. I don't think I would've made it through to where I am now, otherwise. The interaction with readers was incredibly important to my development as a writer.

On the other hand, I hate that they're out there. I wonder how many readers I lose when my old stuff is bought.

So... I don't know. If you're going to put your first few novels up there, then I say use a pseudonym. :-)

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Unfortunately too often self-published authors don't really see themselves as learning, or in the minor leagues. They see themselves as great writers being unfairly screwed by the publishing companies. So most, in my opinion, will self-publish fifty books without learning anything. But I suppose it might be a good learning experience for a few. I spent most of my life writing for fun, for amateur venues that didn't claim to be anything but, that weren't even supposed to be places to learn or gateways to pro publishing -- they were just strictly for amusement. If you want to get published you have to work at being published not pretend to be published.

11:16 AM  

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