Monday, March 12, 2012

The Learning Curve

I've seen a lot of change in the world of authors and books in the last few years. I don't think anyone could say they haven't. I've witnessed a lot of denial, a lot of terrified scrambling, lost and confused drifting, head scratching, and a great deal of revolutionary waving of banners.

It's kind of fun, really.

In my bios, I often say that I have trouble picking sides. I don't do just one genre, I like to throw in more than a little romance to just about anything, and somehow I ended up with two publishing houses as well. (Primarily because it turned out they both rock, and I wouldn't trade either for anything--but that is a different story) It's not that I'm a fence rider exactly, but I do like a nice neutral perch to watch a good ruckus from...and OH what a ruckus it has been.

You're still not going to get me to pick a horse, but I have to weigh in a little bit on the side of revolution here, because I have a long held belief that change is good, fresher is better, and I just like to shout, "Evolve or Perish," from time to time.

Though I'm not about to give up my I have dipped a toe or two into the self-publishing waters. I also have *gasp* continued to query NY on occasion. Don't judge me. The point is, I've noticed a quality among the revolutionaries that I have to admire. They are adapting, and they are doing a damn good job of it.

These new-fangled authors are willing to learn, and learn well, anything that they need to get the job done. They are studying. They are brushing up. They are evolving into fully-skilled book crafting machines that can handle every bit of producing their own product from art beginning to business end. They can do it all.

Like I said, I admire evolution. This new creature who takes charge of their story's destiny from start to finish, is learning to design covers, to do professional layout, to edit, to negotiate, to navigate the third parties, and to market their creation. They are getting better at it too. Sure, a few years ago you could spot a self-published book a mile away, but today, not so much. Not all the time. Not even most of the time.

Just wait a few more years. Just wait.

I've listened to the blogs, the blurbs and the boards where the revolution is taking place. These authors are educating themselves. They know a LOT about the business of publishing. They know a lot more than many, many traditional authors about contracts, layout, third parties and merchandising. They are not content to let someone else handle that for them, and they are not content being considered less than equal at getting the job done.

It kind of gives me goosebumps.

A long time ago...about the time I started this blog, I made a prediction about Agents. I'd met my first few, and I'd noted that they struck me as a bit like lean coyotes who see a long winter coming. I'm not going to point out the changes that have happened in that industry, but you don't have to wander far to find out. :)

I'm not a Seer. (though I write about a fair few) I wouldn't venture a prediction about the future of publishing right now, because I think it's still a chaotic mess. But, I have to say, when I see one group of people putting their nose to the ground and working their asses off to know every tiny detail that might help them succeed,  and I see another group going, No. No. It's not happening. It will never happen.

Well, If not a prediction, I might venture a teen weeny guess who ends up on top.

viva la!
~ Frances


MK said...

What a great post! And it's interesting to hear from an author's perspective who has been writing for awhile. For us newbies, the new way of doing seems just feels natural. But no matter how the book is published, Mark Twain said it best "Easy reading is damn hard writing!" :) Thanks for sharing.

M Pax said...

Yay for revolution. Although handling all yourself is exhausting, it's also exciting.

Frances Pauli said...

Agreed on both counts! Hard writing has always been the game. I think most of us are happy with that. ;) The exhausting/exciting nailed it. I get so fired up about Gimp tutorials on youtube, let me tell you. I never guessed making fonts look professional could be so exciting. The danger is, it steals my writing time too.
We are learning how to juggle many hats, and one thing for's not boring!
I still believe the best thing an author can do is diversify. Some house backed books, some sef-backed, some anthologies, some...whatever comes next! Just wait.
I have been playing around with programming and visual novels. It'll be writing for holo-suite programs sooner than we think, and I say, sign me up! Just let me keep writing too.

Laurie A. Green said...

Viva la revolution! :)

There are so many more options now for writers who turn out a great novel, but just don't fit the narrow wishlist parameters of the big publishers. The success of some of these self-made authors is really exciting. Self-pubbed on the NYT Bestsellers list? Who'd have believed it would happen even a few years ago?