May 8th, 2009

Egyptian hieroglyphics

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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