When it comes to writing and publishing, we are certainly living in interesting and fascinating times. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say we’re seeing unprecedented levels of upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the industry of words:
It’s a lot to keep up with, and lately I’ve been wanting nothing more than to shun anything written about the business of writing and just, ya’ know, read a good book. But then a piece written by Shane Staley of independent publisher Delirium Books popped into my inbox, and I felt it was worth sharing.
The essay, which you can read in its entirety here, details Staley’s opinion of where things lie right now. Remember as you read it that he’s coming from a very specific point of view – that of a publisher. I don’t think that in any way invalidates his points, even when it comes to his views on self-publishing. That’s always been a controversial subject, and it’s really coming to a head now that it’s becoming more legitimized. Used to be that anyone who self-published only did so because they lacked the talent and drive to go through proper channels. Now, many authors who have been through those channels, and who have had success through them, are taking matters into their own hands – not because they couldn’t be published elsewhere, but instead because they are choosing to take the business end of things into their own hands.
I think Staley is right when he says that the ease of self-publishing opens the floodgates for massive amounts of terrible writing. Readers are going to have an even more difficult task ahead when it comes to sifting through 99 cent novels trying to find something good to read. But I believe that the professionals, the true talents, will find, as they always do, a way to rise above. Let’s face it – a lot of garbage makes it way onto shelves in the form of a $6.99 paperback or a $25 hardcover, too. We’ve all bought out share of junk. But even at those prices (and prices much, much higher for collectible hardcovers from small press publishers) we keep coming back, keep searching for that next great writer.
I agree with much of what Staley says. I disagree, though, that this time of change is ushering in certain doom and gloom. Yes, it could easily go that way, but there’s an equal chance that what we’ll end up with is some kind of publishing model that restores the power (and the profit) to the rightful owners – the authors. Likewise, I think readers could have a great, wide-open marketplace with more – and more affordable – opportunities to discover new writers, new genres, and new stories.
What do you think? Feel free to join the discussion.