Monday, July 26, 2010

The Dark Side of Publishing

I was privileged to be a presenter this week at the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association Conference, discussing what we referred to as "The Dark Side of Publishing." Joined by authors Terry Persun and Boyd Morrison, we discussed the impact of small presses, self-publishing, and eBooks on the writer trying to break into publishing. The conversation was lively to say the least. But it was also fueled by the declaration of Agent April Eberhart that in 18 months she saw the role of agent being replaced by author advocates and self-publishing as a both a viable and dominant form of publishing in the future. This sentiment was also echoed in an interview with Agent Jackie Meyer who said "We are at a tipping point where authors may be better off self-publishing."

This week, the conversation has also been fueled by yet another industry dust-up involving the Amazon Kindle as super-agent Andrew Wylie signed an exclusive eBook contract for 20 works with Amazon. Meanwhile, Random House considers those rights to be theirs and has declared they will no longer do business with Wylie.

The problem (if there is only one that I'm dealing with) is that writers seem to be reaching a point where they don't trust the agent/editor/publisher infrastructure any more, but at the same time are being led to believe that all they have to do is put their eBooks on Amazon and they will start selling 4,000 a month. This can't really be blamed on hearing Boyd Morrison's fairytale ending for his new book "Ark." It can really only be blamed on our own credulity for believing there is any easy way to see our novels, memoirs, or non-fiction published. It still fundamentally requires a great story, well-told, perfectly edited, attractively presented, and marketed the hell out of.

The industry is going to change. Boyd declared that when he published his eBooks on Amazon in 2009, it was 45 years ago in Internet time. Mainstream publishers and even alternative publishers like Long Tale Press will have to be nimble in order to keep up in the next 18 months which will be like another 65 years of Internet time.

We are going to return to more technical information on this blog that will address fundamentals of creating eBooks, but we will continue to intersperse industry information in with it as we go. And I will be continuing to follow news posts on excellent sites like Media Bistro's GalleyCat. Follow @wayzgoose for continued updates on Twitter.

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