It’s that time of the year—the leaves are falling, deadlines are approaching, NANOWRIMO is upon us. A few days ago over lunch, my friend, an accomplished, ‘traditionally’ published romance writer, and I were mulling over the fate of writers in the publishing environment which is changing faster than the seasons.
Soon after, I chanced to attend a gathering of men in women ‘in-transition’ as the euphemism goes these days. The meeting was well attended, and the topic may have been part of the reason for it: self-publishing and how to do it.
From the keen interest of the attendees, the thirst for writing—or at least being ‘published’—is alive and well among the man and woman on the street
The charismatic speaker, someone with a successful journalist career, and now a self-published author, touted the joys of self-publishing to the audience: thanks to on-line publishers there are no longer barriers to ‘getting your book out’; you don’t need an agent; and paper books are going away.
The other advice to the aspiring writers/authors included: all stories people have to tell are interesting; let your personality shine through your writing; don’t conform to any style; don’t follow a formula or worry that your writing has to sound ‘literary;’ ‘traditionally’ published authors who receive an advance and their book doesn’t sell, have to repay the advance.
A number of statements to take an issue with, no doubt, but the ‘pitch’ to go forth and self-publish no doubt tantalized, encouraged, and will perhaps nudge some writing wafflers in the audience to follow that path. After all, like the speaker said, ‘what have you got to lose?’
From the perspective of those eager to be ‘published,’ perhaps nothing except their cash. But as I listened, I was reminded of what someone told me years ago: that in flush economic times fewer people are seeking publication as a source of income because there are other, and easier, means to earn a buck than writing and publishing.
In a poor economy, ironically, some see publishing as an avenue to generating an income—even though it may actually result in congestion in the very marketplace they seek to enter.
It seems to me that e-pub and self-pub has not solved that contradiction. The speaker did mention that there are 2 million self-published books out there, and the numbers are growing. Success stories of those who have self-published to fame and fortune are trotted out to encourage others along that route. How many, among the 2 million, will be ultimately cashing in, is far from clear.