With changes in the publishing industry, the big houses have been described as, "a gate in the desert with no fence attached to it." You have thousands, if not millions, of aspiring writers, "wanting to get in" and millions of readers who wanted to read good books, manned by this narrow gate of publishers, who were struggling with their business profits (no blame attached here), keeping all but a trickle from passing through. Well, not a trickle, but they've been selective which authors they chose to print, and careful about anticipating what titles would sell. From contract to shelf the timing is at least twelve, if not eighteen months. A lot can change in that period of time. They can't afford duds.
So now writers are going around the gate.
Readers want things, and they buy on impulse with their online purchases, provided they aren't too expensive. So pricepoint is important. Someone asked me if all these ebooks being purchased are really being read. My answer was, "Who cares? They bought the book." Have you ever bought a book you didn't read? This great self-pub engine works because readers want to read, and they don't want to wait to get the books they love. That was a problem that was never anticipated, in my opinion. As soon as readers discovered this, they jumped on the ebook bandwagon and you are seeing soaring sales. And every boat in the water was lifted.
Um....but there's still the competition for readership. Will more books be read now that there are ebooks? I'm not sure. Instead of the vetting being done at the publishing level, it will be done with readers.
And I'm okay with that. Some great books will be bought and read that would never otherwise see a reader. And some will fall like a stone. Some good books won't sell because of lack of promotion and legitimacy the publishing houses give.
Still, the bottom line is the same: a good book is a good book. With more available to readers, and more of them will be poor quality, I think a writer should get a professional editor to help them with the finished product. There's some cost to that, but the writer takes the gamble because they get the lion's share of the profits. At over 60%, if your books are priced correctly, it's only fair, in my opinion.
Now the writer has to not only tell the tale with skill and craft, but has to be a marketing genius, select a correct cover, and know all the ins and outs of blogging, connecting to other writers and readers, and be fully responsible for sales. Now the writer is in the Business of writing, not just being an author.
So there's competition. Just like there always was. And there will be the resultant cat fights and ego-driven spats between authors trying to grab the same readers. It's a good time to be a good person, and rise above all that. Some authors will do so well, it will blow everyone's mind. Others, who are really good, will languish.
Both paths have road kill. But what I like about the path that is emerging for authors now is I have more control of the outcome than I did before. I can never match what a great publishing house could do for me, but I can promote and get my name out there, and get the buzz started. Maybe it is the first step to picking up a big publisher. Or maybe the self-publish phenom will be here to stay.
And for all the mid-list authors who haven't had an outlet for their backlist, now they can be dusted off, and brought back to life. Who knew? Vampire backlists! Back from the dead...
One thing is for sure. Putting all your eggs in one basket probably is not a good idea. Pushing to be one of the trickle that gets print published, may be a worthy goal, but may not ultimately feed your family.
I like the idea of burning the candle at both ends.