Darn it! What’s a writer got to do to get a book published these days? Better yet, how do you sell one?
The world of publishing is in chaos. Seriously. Ask three question of any writer, agent, or publicist and you’ll get nine different answers. Even more frustrating—ask fifteen of them and you’ll get ever more divergent and dispiriting answers back.
The big publishing houses aren’t acquiring new writers at this time. Small publishers only want literary tomes from academics. Self-publishers are self-serving and will publish any crap you pay them to cause there are thousands of you they make money off of whether you sell anything or not.
Readers are expecting something for nothing because the electronic market sold them on the idea that their devices were essential and not the content they download to them.
No one is agreeing these day on exactly what it takes to get published because the minute you define a course of action, someone else comes along and does the exact opposite and throws the whole system into hysteria. Hell, the economy tanked and no one is buying books anyway.
Not to discourage or depress you but it’s grim goings out there. It’s unrealistic to think you can get an agent, or a publisher unless you have a successful online presence with a huge following, have published before, or write professionally for a magazine. You have to prove you have a track record for them to take a risk on you? Sigh.
Unless you don’t give a rats ass what anyone else says, and are willing to plug along doing whatever it takes to get your book in print and into readers hands then your writing is never going to see the light of day.
Still with me? I thought I might have lost a few of you with all that discouraging crap.
Who you are, what you write, your social media quotient, your personality, the quality of your writing, your tolerance for social engagement—yes, they are all going to matter. But how much they matter and by what measurement and how you will utilize them, will be tailored to what you are trying to accomplish. We don’t all have the same goals.
You might have come across this quote from Seth Godin sometime this week, it was making its way around the twitter sphere “Who said you have a right to cash money from writing?” It’s from this article, which if you have not read yet, you should stop and do so now. I’ll wait...
I’m a Seth Godin fan. I think he relates ideas clearly, is forward thinking, and has a great sense of humor.
What I get from everything I’ve been reading is that we are at the dawning of a new industry. We are responsible for how our work gets out there, and for finding our readers.
Traditional publishing doesn’t exist anymore. They are still trying to figure out how to function and remain relevant in this digital, self-publishing age. I do believe someone will figure it out eventually creating new models of author/agent/editor/publisher relationships. But we can't afford to wait.
I believe that we writers are the ones to determine what those relationships are going to be. Since the traditional model of advances, publicist, and support are no longer available to the aspiring writer we need not adhere to old methodology of trying to engage them.
How about we make them come to us? What other ways do fiction writers have to showcase their writing? We write blogs, articles, interviews, tweets and essays. As Seth points out, we give it away till someone values it enough to want to pay for it.
I've overcome my initial reluctance to give away my writing, when I realized it didn't mean giving it all away. What it does mean is giving away free samples.
There is no right or wrong way to do this anymore. There is only experimentation, and trial and error.
We will each have to sift through the current approaches and find the ones that fit us.
Up Next: POV: Social Media