Saturday, July 23, 2011

PUBLISHING TODAY: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Maryann McFadden

It’s no secret the publishing world is in chaos. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) sales figures for the first half of 2011 “adult paperback is the most popular trade category. However, paperback sales dipped nearly 18 percent and hardcover sales fell 23 percent compared to the same period previous year. At the same time, eBooks sales have continued to grow at a rapid pace.”
I know this isn’t exactly new news, but is anyone else alarmed?

And then there are the closing independent bookstores, falling like dominoes every week. Even Borders, hanging on by a thread for months, made the big announcement yesterday that they are finally done and… nearly 11,000 people who have been hopefully trying to sell our books will be out of work soon. 
As for the writers…a few months ago the back page of the New York Times featured an essay by a respected mid-list author who says he’s CHOOSING TO SELF-PUBLISH! That’s right, forgoing his traditional publisher and striking out on his own.  And that he’s far from alone. Why? Because he can make more money on the ever growing e-book market. More so than if his traditional publisher put his book out there.

That one had me more shocked than alarmed.  Because for me the traditional publisher has always meant one thing—validation. That my work was good enough to pass muster and be selected for that inner sanctum
In 2006, I self-published my first novel, THE RICHEST SEASON out of desperation! It had been rejected off and on for 5 years! I’d shelved it 3 times. My goal wasn’t to make money, but to simply get it out there and read—what any writer wants for their work. My secret dream was to get it taken. And it was, by Hyperion Books. I got the validation I was seeking, and the cachet of having a big publisher.

Now, in 2011, it seems the publishing model is being turned on its head and fellow writers—the ones I personally know, whose work I respect, who also have dreamed of being “the real deal” are now telling me that they, too, are CHOOSING to self-publish, only now it’s called Indie Publishing, according to one of my favorite booksellers. They are going to keep total control—of the cover, the rights, the money.
What’s a writer to do in these tumultuous time?

I for one choose to watch and see what happens, and continue to write. Despite the seismic shifts, and the occasional tsunamis as one editor after another hits the chopping block, I have to keep reminding myself why I am a writer. Is it for money? Fame? Glory? 

Hardly. It’s because there’s this need in me to create, to play with words, to feel the thrill of something falling into place like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. 

Ever since I was 11 years old, I have wanted to be a writer. And I am. I write. So whatever happens, whatever shifts affect me and my stories, my characters, my words, in the near or far future, I know something for sure: I will always write. Because I love it.

Maryann McFadden is a Jersey Girl who is still longing to live in the South. Her novels, THE RICHEST SEASON and SO HAPPY TOGETHER are both Indie Next Picks. Her new novel, THE BOOK LOVER is coming soon.

4 comments:

Editor @ the "Dew" said...

Well said! The nature of publishing is changing and I find it unnerving. While it has certainly helped online reviewers such as myself rise to notice... I still fear the death of walking around with a one, or even more, books in my giant bag to pull out at my leisure. I have not embraced the ebook industry. I do agree with you completely though - I true writer is driven to write, to express, to get those words out...regardless of the final format. Idgie

Jake said...

Great post. We writers are definitely in relatively uncharted territory. But hey, being a pioneer can be exciting, right? So long as we're not so worried about our rep. I've been trying to figure this out, too, on my blog, a problem of "pride and prejudice":

http://offtopic.typepad.com/off-topic/2011/06/on-self-publishing-aka-pride-and-prejudice.html

Maryann said...

Jake, Pride and Prejudice is a perfect description of this conundrum. But as so many of my writing friends who are choosing to self-publish keep saying: the only validation you need is from your readers.
I can't argue with that.

Nicole Seitz said...

Amen, sister!