Sunday, 27 September 2009

Is Traditional Publishing Dead?

Here's another argument I see a lot on Writers' Boards. Fairly regularly someone writes an article pointing to slumps in book sales and the success of Kindle and moans sybil-like that publishing is dead. Others say the future lies in self-publishing and twenty years from now we'll all be publishing through Lulu et al and hawking our books out of car boots or on Amazon Marketplace.

I don't pretend to know enough about the business to have any glib answers to this. Nor do I have any premonitions about what the Future of Publishing is. What I do know is I get bloody sick of all this bickering. OK, it's a contentious issue with lots of people's livelihood at stake, but what's the point in indulging in circular arguments when none of us really knows what the future holds. All we can do is wait and see.

It seems to me, as a disinterested novice in this field I hasten to add, that you need to do 2 things to succeed at publishing.

The first and most important is write a bloody brilliant book. Note: not a good enough book, but a bloody brilliant one. Knock their socks off good. Having done that you need to get it into people's hands. This is where the self-publisher is up against the odds, but it has been known to happen.

There should be no two-tier attitude to this. Publishing is publishing. We're all in it together. The Enemy, if there is one, is other media; tv, film, computer games. As authors we have to drag the punters back into the book shops to buy our books. Have them rushing to order from Amazon instead of vegitating in front of the telly letting their brains turn to mush.

It's whether we can succeed at this that will determine the future of publishing, not which press prints our books.

We all love books or we wouldn't be trying to get into this field. So maybe we should spend less time bickering about the Future of Publishing and write that bloody brilliant book!


Angela said...

Great post!

Tracy said...

How right you are! Now I must get back to writing my 'bloody brilliant book'. Well, I can dream can't I. ;)

Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks Angela. :-)

Me too, Tracy!