An Exciting Time to be a Writer, or…?
When I first started writing this post, I’d stated that I’d been having a hectic time of things lately, though it wasn’t one of those “hectics” that bowls you over and leaves the smears of your remains staining whatever surface was unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of impact, and that I was more or less confused by things.
Man, did that turn on a dime! =|
Still, I think I figured some of it out, but I’m still piecing together the leftovers. PROMOTION! That’s the key! Or so they say, and I actually haven’t had as much time to promote the release of my next book as I’d hoped. Again, life comes atcha fast, as in, approaching warp speed! And before I know it, The Final Calling will be out and I’ll be making announcements for the release of my sixth book. Have I already written five? Wow, just wow.
So now I’m here, making note of how crazy it all is, but no matter which way the wind is blowing in that department, this is actually an exciting time to be a writer! I mean, isn’t it? Cause I’m kinda confused there, too … !
For example, the internet, which has revolutionized our entire way of life, has most certainly changed the way the writing/publishing world works. Maybe it took a little more time for that change to occur, but it’s happening everyday. I’ve read article after article now about the newer methods of self publishing and its impact on the market, and whether or not you believe that impact is beneficial, it’s turning the tide, particularly with how traditional publishing houses function on the whole.
Whenever I think about the course of these events, I usually end up imagining the traditional publishing houses as being a dam. Basically, it used to be that they were the ultimate say in what got put on a shelf and what should be left to gather dust. They were quite literally the concrete structure holding the larger lake back from flooding the valley, and regardless of right or wrong, what they stamped with a big thumbs up in approval was what we got to read–and very rarely did you ever get a book that was released by alternative means.
Then KDP came along like a giant wielding a club, and the giant hit the dam with a destructive slam whilst proclaiming, “Me give new way to publish books!”
So writers started forgoing the publishing houses, opting against waiting for acceptance or rejection in favor of putting their works up all on their own. Not only had this new method of self publishing broken the dam holding back the waters, when the lake spilled over, it created a hundred rivers leading to either new opportunities, or … they just sent you falling off a cliff.
All it took was traversing the river and seeing where it would lead, and this is a trip I think many authors are still on. Myself included.
Some of these rivers are long, after all. Amazon long. Oh my god, it’s a pun. Anyway, the point is that, ever since the dam burst and the ebook gold rush of 2009-2013 has passed, things are really, well, in a mess. Some of the floods have started to recede, and we’re surveying both the positive outcomes of this change, as well as the damages done (and we all know there have been some damages). Attempts to reconstruct the dam and make it better are underway, and even the giant is all like, “Okay, I need to work at controlling my impulses.”
I’ll admit, I’m not 100% certain how far those efforts have come. We still have giants and dams, and it feels like there’s a struggle going on between them that isn’t really getting anyone anywhere. While they’re fighting, a number of authors are just sitting in the background looking for ways to get their material into the hands of readers, resorting to networking on social media, sending requests to review blogs, and paying places to advertise. Basically, anything that might put a flashing neon light around their manuscript saying, “LOOK, LOOK, IT’S A BOOK!” Or something more simple like, “READ ME, SEYMOUR.”
I’ve tried all of the methods listed above, but I haven’t seen any significant results. Maybe I’m advertising in the wrong place, or maybe my networking skills aren’t up to par (like many writers, I don’t have all day to sit around looking for people to talk to). Or perhaps I lack the education needed to know exactly where to go and how to pitch my materials. But damn it, Jim, I’m a writer, not an advertiser, and while I can certainly develop marketing skills (I believe anyone can do anything they put their mind to), or just assemble a street team to spread the word for me, it gets kind of impossible when you’re already promoting, writing, editing, designing, and working a day job all at once (not to mention kids and whatever else might require your time).
And one place I think traditional publishing houses have the self publishing venue beat is in marketing.
After all, KDP and other places like it don’t actively promote your work. That’s not their job … is it? Their purpose is to publish it, but without seeking exposure for yourself, or getting 50+ reviews on Amazon, you’re not going to see your books listed anywhere unless you put it there yourself. This is really what puts the “self” in self publishing. Sure, you’ve written, edited, and done the x, y, z stuff all on your own, but your job doesn’t stop there!
Still, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if promotion shouldn’t also be a part of the self publisher’s job description. I mean, they are making money whenever someone buys our work, so you’d think they’d want to profit, and some do, but are they really going about it the right way? For example, there’s Kindle Scout; basically, KDP’s way of finding self published authors and offering them a type of traditional publishing contract. But isn’t this a step back? Returning to the ways of the dam that’s keeping the lake from flooding the valley? Or … do we need that to return?
I’m skeptical. With all of the changes that have occurred, it just doesn’t feel like this is a very practical way to capitalize, and if I’m being honest, I’ll say that I don’t believe either the giant or the dam is really working to change their models to suit the industry in its current state, or to suit the author’s needs to keep those of us working our asses off to put out quality works actually, well, doing so?
I’m not saying I wouldn’t write the best book I could possibly write just because I’m barely making sales or seeing any activity. Not. One. Bit. Writing is my passion, and I’ll keep doing it regardless of the sales I see. But sometimes, it does seem like the publishers (both traditional and self) are ignoring the little guys in favor of figuring out how to get ahead and make the most dough as soon as possible, and that maybe us authors don’t really matter all that much.
I could be very wrong (and I wouldn’t be surprised if I am). But what is everyone’s take on this? Are my fellow authors happy with their lot right now? Or are they feeling used/overlooked/frustrated with the way things are shaping up? Should self publishing platforms start offering more along the lines of promotion? Should the traditional publishing houses start accepting more manuscripts that were previously self published? It’s definitely something to discuss, so let me know in the comments!
The Final Calling is Available for Preorder! (Releasing June 3rd)
Books • The Final Calling • Box Set • About the Author