Facilitate connections between writers and readers

Last week the Canadian publishing world buzzed with speculation brought on by the potential bankruptcy of a major Canadian publisher (Douglas & McIntyre) and the merger of Random House and Penguin. The Globe and Mail (my local paper) interviewed several industry players for perspective.

A few phrases caught my eye: “the merger will be a disaster”, “writers will have few options”, “I can’t imagine that bigger means necessarily better”, “it’s not a good thing for young authors”, “this is an extraordinary way to fight Amazon”, “the problem with publishing is it’s hard”. I like the last one best.

If we look at the situation from a $$ perspective, the squeeze becomes clear.

While the diagram is simplistic, look at how many times the word ‘select’ occurs. Ask yourself whether readers need all that selecting. Then ask yourself whether all that gatekeeping produces sufficient value for the cost involved.

Writers seek remuneration for hours of effort along with the joy of having their books read; readers seek quality entertainment and information at reasonable prices. The value offered by agents, publishers, reviewers, and retailers is threatened by new business models and technologies, by writers determined to get their product to market and by readers no longer relying on traditional mechanisms. Anything getting in the way of these objectives is subject to disruption.

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Meet M.K.Tod

Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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12 Responses

  1. As an INDIE author, I agree about cutting through that pre-censorship BUT as a reader I know that another barrier is a poorly edited book. I think your diagram should stress that the indie author must have a critique and copy edit process in place before offering their creation.

  2. I think readers have always been sensitive to mistakes, poor editing. Publishers have usually taken the final responsibility and I agree with Joan about the need for some internal quality control for indie authors (but how to enforce it?)
    But the biggest problems for authors, especially Indie authors, is still how to make that connect with readers. It’s a big jump from the box in your diagram that says authors-create content, to the end box – readers, select, enjoy, and discuss (?). Big Publishing has not always excelled.in promotion and publicity.So It’s not hard to find author’s who think their publishers have failed.
    Independent authors feel forced to become marketing entrepreneurs which becomes equally as time consuming as writing.
    Many want to write – not become a marketing/blog/facebook/twitter/ you name it whiz kid.
    But the problem remains– how to reach the reader as even more brick and motar stores fall to the ground?

    1. Judith – thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that marketing is a critical issue – in fact, after posting this I was out jogging and realized that I should have said something about it, after all without marketing, no one knows you’ve written a book! Clearly some authors are already doing their own marketing, and as you point out, that takes a lot of time away from writing. Some authors are highly marketed by their publishers. Some authors – James Patterson comes to mind – have a well-oiled marketing machine. Wouldn’t you love to have that! New groups have formed like B.R.A.G Medallion to help market indie authors. Bloggers review all sorts of books – both indie and traditional – another form of marketing. Goodreads offers a way to get the word out. Perhaps I should do another post with an adjusted diagram to explore how this world is evolving?

      1. I completely agree with Judith about how to get the indie book to the reader. I’m finding it difficult and time consuming to market my books, but I must if I don’t want to disappear, let alone be successful. I need to focus my energies better than I have, but not at all sure of where to focus. writerofhistory, I’m looking forward to your followup blog.

  3. Here, here! I could not agree more with your post. As a reader, I am tired of the big houses telling me what to read. As a writer, back when I was a traditionally published, I had to share my hard-earned writing dollars with all the minions along the way. It is time to shake up the system.

  4. I wonder if you all are missing the point here. Writing and being a writer is a ‘profession’, a ‘job’ and a ‘career’. It also a small business. As such, a writer not only writes but he/she also must manage that writing as a small business – including the marketing. I do believe that writing in the 21st century has turned the old image of writers sitting at a desk writing on its head. Today, you are a small business owner.

    1. Linda … I could not agree with you more! Writers are entrepreneurs, just as you say. In case you’re interested, I wrote a lot about this topic on One Writer’s Voice (www.onewritersvoice.com) before starting this blog. Many thanks for reminding us all of this way of thinking.

      1. Yes, I agree with all of the above comments. Our thoughts, though mild expressed, point to the biggest dilemma facing the new breed of writers in todays world. This is worthy of a seminar at the next HSN conference.
        And thanks to Mary for providing this thoughtful blog. May your books be published soon and have many readers!

        1. Hi Judith … intriguing thought about HNS 2013. I was supposed to speak at HNS 2012 but at the last minute was too sick to fly. A very disappointing situation. I’m pleased you like the blog!

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