Thursday, April 21, 2011

4 Implications Of Publishing In The 'Now'

This week I presented my report on The Spinning Tales conference to my peers here in Wellington.
 As I have been writing the report over a few weeks, carefully deciphering scribbled notes up, down and sideways, I have also been looking out for articles and commentary to do with the main themes discussed at the conference.

Last week I gave you the six need to know facts about children’s publishing that were uppermost in my notes as I pulled them together for the report. This week it is the implications of some of the publishing trends of ‘now’ that authors must be aware of.

1. We are becoming a screen society. This has implications for writers, we have to be at ease writing content across all the screen mediums. (N.B. If you don’t believe me answer these questions. Do you reach for the yellow pages or access the internet? Does your child know what the yellow pages are?)

Mike Shatzkin of Ideologue discussed the furore over his reported comments that it will be hard to find a Library in fifteen years time. He makes some very good arguments...and he says we will need librarians more than ever.

2. If you are niche you are unlikely to find a publisher for your work. If your work is too short or too long you are unlikely to find a publisher. Large publishers lists are contracting and they have to have a commercial focus to survive. Small publishers are inundated with submissions. You might need to take a hard look at your publishing options and decide whether you want to stay in the game.

Roz Morris looks at what you need to decide when you keep getting positively rejected. (that is they make nice encouraging noises about your work but it is still a rejection)

3. If you are not business savvy you will be someone else’s cash cow. It happened in the music industry where mega performing stars discovered that they owned no rights to their own music and indeed owed music publishers (record companies ) millions when an album underperformed.

Check contracts for everything! Kristin Nelson talks about the rights in perpetuity clause in an agents contract.

Mike Shatzkin talks about Amazon moving to take print rights (the new subsidiary rights) from the ebooks it sells. Just flip this over and you find a big six publisher taking ebook rights off print books or no deal.

4. Independent Publishing is just as hard as traditional publishing but you own the process (and the bills and the profits.)
Bob Mayer posted a comprehensive list of things his publishing company is doing to promote his new book project. It is eye opening!

Good writing may not get noticed but you owe it yourself that anything with your name on it should stand out.

The Blake Snyder beat sheet has been retweeted all over the internet in the last week. It is excellent.
Liz has adapted it for the novel in a spreadsheet.

Erika Holt has written a must read post on standing out from the slushpile.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Ad supported Kindles....are they a good idea?

What Stops The Agent Reading

3 Late Blooming Writers

Em Dashes and How To Use Them.

To finish,
It is Easter...and we should celebrate...So here are two gifts for you.

The absolute comprehensive list of free tools for writers. Read it and go waaaah.

An article in the writers guild magazine written by J K Rowling...(for those still thinking about shelling out for the HP DVD this Easter.)



PT Dilloway said...

It does seem harder than ever to get a book published these days.

Maureen said...

Hi Rogue,
Yes it does....and you have to decide what you mean by 'book'- app, podcast, audio book, ebook, print book. Then published takes on a whole different meaning....indie, traditional, niche, web only, book store only....

It is a whole different ball game out there and the speed of change is increasing all the time.

There is discussion about print books being a collectors item for people with serious the future...maybe when our kids have grown a couple of decades....

Melinda Szymanik said...

In the good old bad old days positive rejections just meant you kept sending it out longer to more agents/publishers. Maybe it took you forty goes, maybe a hundred plus. Now we have an alternative and folk say I can do this myself. I want to know if the stats for publication success/failure after multiple positive rejections is truly different 'now' compared to 'then'.

Maureen said...

That's a good question Melinda. I suspect that with the tightening of publishers lists and the desperation of publishers to find a sure fired commercial winner to keep the publishing house afloat that manuscripts they previously would have taken a punt on are just rejected now. One of the problems, as I see it, is that if everyone is chasing the 'commercial' property which may have mass market appeal bright lights and coloured foam,
sleeper hits with lots of substance but not much fluff may get overlooked. If the only print books are fluffy ones doesn't it dumb down the audience? Dumb down the audience enough and you won't be able to sell anything of substance.
That was the warning the American Children's Writers gave to Scholastic when they wanted to rewrite Harry Potter and the philosophers stone. After that debacle they left the rest of the books alone.

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