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Change is painful

It seems like there's a war brewing in the blogosphere. Writers who are not yet published have been questioned about calling themselves writers (note the huge number of comments on this blog post). Writers who use POD publishing services like Lulu or CreateSpace were chastised for calling themselves “indie” writers instead of “self-published” writers. Going on the offensive, one writer has taken agents to task for blocking access to editors and “destroying literature.”

To me, the true irony is that outside of the circle of literary agents, editors, and aspiring writers, no one cares. Most people have no clue how the book they're reading now (assuming they are reading a book) got published. They have no clue how difficult it is to get published. Admittedly, one reason it's so difficult is there are such a huge number of writers aspiring to publication, so that circle of folks is a good size; I think there is a gene for storytelling, and if you have it, you want to write (in ancient times, these folks would have been the ones who told stories around the campfire).

And at the same time, there are lots of agents and editors dedicated to the status quo; that's how they've always operated and they see no reason to change.

But I predict they will change, because technology, reading habits, and the economy are all conspiring to speed up the evolution of how books are published. For one thing, ebooks will become much more common, and it's a lot easier to truly self-publish an ebook without needing CreateSpace or Lulu. I'm not saying editors won't have a job; I'm saying they might well end up working more for writers than for publishing houses. The technology of publishing is changing faster than it ever has!

All bets are off. Welcome to the future!







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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
highway_west
May. 8th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC)
It always makes me laugh when writers fight over the use of the word writer.

The ones that argue the most seem to be the ones most concerned about their own identity.
karen_w_newton
May. 8th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
It is amazing the amount of heat this topic can generate. Talk about your flame wars!
miladyinsanity
May. 8th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
I generally think if you write, you're a writer. I personally don't feel comfortable calling myself an author, but I think that's got a lot to do with the fact I've not finished a damn thing (and I doubt I'll ever call myself that...I'm a writer, period).

You can call yourself whatever the heck you want. What you've actually achieved speaks for itself, and if it says something different...That says it all, doesn't it?
karen_w_newton
May. 8th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Works for me.
jongibbs
May. 21st, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
I'd say the key difference between self-publishing and the more traditional method is down to the quality of editing. Everyone needs a good editor, but for the writer considering whether or not to produce his own, I think it's easy to decide not to bother. After all, it's expensive enough without shelling out $1,000+ on editing.

Which is a shame, because a badly edited book is a bad book.
karen_w_newton
May. 22nd, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Well, I'd say it's the writing as much as the editing. It is good to have an editor's input, but an editor can only do so much. And I think a lot of folks are afraid of getting burned by "professionals" who are just out to take their money. But it would be interesting to know whether the self-published books that sold well enough to get picked up by major houses were edited.

jongibbs
May. 22nd, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
I've read a few self-published/p.o.d. books now, and you can really tell whether or not they had a good editor. They don't have to be filled with grammatical mistakes, but things like bobble-heads, or cliches created by the author within the ms.

Of course, there's always the exception to the rule :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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