Mark Terry

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In The Future People Will Run For Fun...

February 1, 2011
So says a very funny line by Doc in the first BACK TO THE FUTURE movie. As some of you may have noticed, publishing is a-changin'. For the better, for the worse, I dunno, but it clearly is. I'm not in the Joe Konrath Camp that says big publishing's toast. I still think there will be enough writers out there who benefit from what they have to offer, particularly in terms of marketing clout (when they're inclined to) and editorial services (when they're inclined to) that for a certain type of writer they'll still be the way to go.

That said, I'm fairly sure they won't be as large as they are now. The industry's contracting and the big companies, in particular, are getting hammered over the head by their overhead (like that?). Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a whole series on the midlist writer and changes in publishing on her blog and although I don't necessarily agree 100% with everything she says (that would be very unlike me), I think she lays out her arguments at least as persuasively as Joe Konrath does.

I honestly don't think anyone knows exactly what's going to happen in the next 5 to 10 years. I'm fairly certain you can kiss Borders goodbye (and that's a real bummer), and I have some doubts about the long-term future of any chain bookstore (and no, I don't like that at all; I love big bookstores and it's not like there are any indies nearby where I live). I suspect the prices of paper books are going to climb as more and more e-books get adopted by readers. That said, I prefer paper books for the most part, both for the reading experience and for the feel and as objects that I put on shelves in my house. I can glance over at my shelves and be reminded of hundreds of lives and people and experiences, something I don't really get flipping through the Home page of my Kindle.

I hope indie publishers continue to grow and publish writers. I hope people continue to read--I'm pretty sure they will.

On the upside, I think the e-book self-publishing trend is a good thing for writers from an artistic point of view and for many writers it's a positive thing from an economic point of view. I know that I can feel some real relief in working on a novel project these days knowing that if my agent can't place it somewhere I can then turn around and e-publish it myself. I no longer feel as if it's a gamble of my time. I'm not at the point yet like Joe Konrath and Lee Goldberg and Robert W. Walker where I'm considering just skipping the traditional route and going for the e-book route--I haven't made that kind of money yet, but if I do, I'm not sure I'd have a problem with it. I might really embrace that. Certainly I have at least two e-publishing projects planned for 2011 and possibly three. And by the way, I'm TOTALLY willing to have that happen, so why don't you run out and buy my e-books ASAP, 'kay?

So what do you guys think? What's the future of book publishing and writing for you?


Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I feel like my career will likely split a few ways. I like writing hardcover and paperback books for kids. I speak to 100 at a time, I can SELL through and I like it. I love what my publisher does for me in terms of marketing, placement, and school support. I don't see changing that model (at least now).

For backlist--OBVIOUSLY my entire backlist is going on Kindle this year.

For certain breezy comedies I enjoy writing but likely won't get publisher support in the way I'd like--self-pub on the kindle.

For the big "book club" type book I am writing--I still want traditional.

I have a nonfiction book that I think has massive potential--but only if a house got behind it.

So I look at it as mapping a path for each niche or book, not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach.

And I read the article I think you were pointing us to . . . and I agree. I do this because I CAN. Because I don't think anything I write is pure crap because I've spent 20 years honing my craft.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Kris Rusch is doing some very interesting things, partly because both her and her husband have been pro writers for 20+ years and have enormous backlists they can work with. Also, both of them write a ton of short fiction, which has allowed them to really do some interesting mixes as e-books. She's well worth reading on this subject and, to my mind, gives a little more balanced POV than some of the others out there.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I don't know exactly what's in store for me. Right now Mary and I have just about finished the first draft for the next Byzantine mystery which needs a lot of work, so short term that's what's in store!

As far as "career" goes...well, we're near retirement age so let's face it we're not looking to slowly build some sort of careers in publishing.

There's no doubt that the increasing legitimacy (if that's the way to put it) or epubbing opens the possibility of just writing fiction for fun. Most of my life I have written nonfiction for fun, with no idea of compensation, but there were venues I wrote for where I knew people would read my stuff. With fiction, there was no place I could write what I liked with any expectation of any audience at all, without a publisher finding an audience for me. I think maybe that is changing.

So maybe at some point I will forget about writing commercially. I'll just write exactly what I want. Offer it around to publishers -- take it or leave it -- and if they don't want it publish it myself.

8:06 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks, said...

All I know is right now I have a contract, and likely another two this year on the way. It's for mostly eBook sales, and it's for royalties only (a generous rate) and so I'm happy. This year looks better than a lot of past years have. I'm happy with my small publisher, and frankly, I have to do the same amount of marketing that I'd have to do with a larger publisher.

I'd love to get with a bigger one; get in bookstores, too. But I don't know how many bookstores will actually be left by the time I get some books out there. I do have an in with a couple of local booksellers in both towns where I live, and that excites me, since I can at least tap into the local market.

And Borders, frankly, rarely has the book I'm looking for, so I've given up on the big box stuff. I LOVE my Kindle app for my iPad. LOVE it. I'm not that different, so I think others will too, and it will grow. The whole buy a book and start reading in under a minute from my BED is awesome!

I really love that I have more stories to tell and lots of choices. I feel confident an agent will come; bigger contracts will come. And when I have a backlist and I own rights, I'll put them on Kindle. My publisher generally does anyway from the start.

I'm also super excited for short fiction, which I have been for awhile. I've long viewed short fiction as marketing efforts, and our hits are up at Electric Spec, our subs are better than ever. So it's all just one big exciting pie to me.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Mike Powell said...

I'm laid off, retired, or self employed depending on how much sympathy I'm fishing for when asked. Since being booted from the corporate nest I've self published two non fiction books, and am 45K words into a third. I found a ready audience and am successfully meeting their needs.

I'd like to publish some fiction. I think I'm an okay writer judging by reader feedback and continuing sales. No doubt there's room for improvement, and I know success at non fiction doesn't guarantee success elsewhere. But, I'm old enough that I don't want to take the years necessary to play the trad publishing waiting game. I find the Konrath/Rusch/Smith/etc. blogs encouraging. ePublishing both lowers the entry threshold and widens the gateway.

I may not like the feedback I get when I put my fiction out there, but at least now I have the opportunity.

I'm looking forward to it.

Mike Powell
Mike's Flight Deck Books

6:26 PM  

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