C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Contest #2 Winning Post: Don’t Fear the Reaper

A printing press in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Image via Wikipedia


Chazz here. Writer and aspiring scriptwriter PA Melo wrote an interesting article on the future of publishing. He won the book Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer. Here’s his article:

The future of book publishing is grim right now. From what I see, it’s on a path to destruction. However, it will change from the path it’s on once publishers realize they can no longer hope to make the current model sustainable. (The term “current” is misleading in this context. The publishing model has changed very little in a very long time. What is current is debatable because the state of publishing is in flux.)

In a recent Quill & Quire article, for instance, the Canadian publishing journal reported that book sales reps are becoming obsolete. One veteran sales person advised anyone who thought about getting into the sales side of publishing to “go learn how to build a website.” That’s good advice. And it’s also good news for the planet. Sending book salespeople all over with paper catalogues and then shipping tons of books all over the place isn’t an earth-friendly strategy. What made the article even more poignant was another reason book sales representatives were less useful: There are far fewer independent bookstores upon which they could even make sales calls.

When I talk to older relatives, they all say how resistant they are to reading books on screens. Most of those same relatives have never attempted to read a book on a screen. I sang a little “Don’t dear the Reaper,” to them in reply. No, dead tree books won’t disappear entirely, but if my family wants to buy them, they will have to pay a premium for them. Already I pay for audiobooks from iTunes at $9.99. I used to have to pay up between $60 – $70 for that privilege when I bought audiobooks on CDs. Now it’s on my MP3 or iPod and it’s cheap.

Right now, as the industry goes through its transition, there are still naysayers, but their voices are getting smaller and less sure of themselves. I’m convinced writers will be paid less and will have to write more. However, they will also have new opportunities to reach new markets and to market themselves. Publishers are in flux because they aren’t sure of their role anymore. Before they could point to their distribution networks. However, in a world where I can put up my own website and sell my own stuff, build my own fanbase and (some day) deliver my books to my readers immediately, I don’t need no stinkin’ publisher! (Or maybe I do. But the terms for my ebooks better get a whole lot more fair than what I’ve been hearing lately!)

I’m a novice writer. I’ll grow into this profession of writing and me and my peers think no more about reading onscreen than you do about putting on your seatbelt. I wish publishers were changing faster, but I’m sure that those who cling to old contracts and old business models won’t be around in a few years. Their role is being redefined. If they aren’t very careful, it will be redefined for them.

Our roles as writers is also being redefined. We’ll have to take less money up front just like musicians have had to do. (Now I hardly ever buy a whole album. It’s only the songs I absolutely want or nothing.) And we’ll have to take more responsibility for our own careers. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

 (Chazz again. As I posted this editorial, I noticed one of the links below. E-book Sales Up 193% So Far This Year (mashable.com) seems to gel with Mr. Melo’s remarks.)

Filed under: publishing, Rant, , , ,

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