Those of us in the publishing and book world sure are living in exciting times!
It’s been a little more than ten years since I started my first publishing company (Diversity Incorporated, later to become Bleak House Books), and to say that things have changed in the publishing world, would be an understatement.
Whether or not people choose to read it or can even understand the language the handwriting is on the wall—the way things were ain’t the way they are today and even further removed from how they’ll be tomorrow. In talking to some of the people I know—authors, agents, and publishers—it’s sad to see some of them stubbornly clinging to their deck chairs on the Titanic.
There’s a lot of uncertainty going around. And it’s not limited to publishing. Scientifically speaking, a million things effect the evolution of books—emerging technologies, consumer habits, global economics, the threat of military conflict (both real AND ginned up), on and on, etc.
So when I see people tether themselves to the ship pretending that icebergs haven’t been struck and ignoring the reality that the navigational charts the captains of our industry have been consulting for years aren’t going to offer them a path out of danger, I’m not sure what to make of it.
On the one hand—I’m sympathetic. There are, no doubt, many of us who figured the reality of what we knew might shift, but certainly not in the seismic ways that it has. It is frustrating and disorienting to be humbled by things like that.
However, significant change has come and each second spent ignoring it is one second closer to obsolescence. There will be no miracle patch job. There isn’t a quick epoxy and duct tape solution for this one. Either learn to swim, row a life boat, or get really good at holding your breath.
If you love books, if you love the idea of stories being told in a way that brings us all closer (see the big issues above)—now is an exceedingly exciting time to be alive and involved. Throwing away old maps allows us to plot new courses. Sure, we might get scraped in the bramble, but think of how good it will feel to see the new communities sprout up and know that we were involved.
Also of note—if you’re in the NYC area and plan on attending either the Writer’s Digest conference or Digital Book World, I’ll be speaking at both events.
At the Writer’s Digest conference I’ll be on a panel called “Ask the Editor.” Here is the description:
In this special session, we’ve gathered four publishers who are well known and highly respected for the fiction they publish. Attendees will listen to discussions on what publishers are looking for, how they decide who to publish, what they see as the digital future of fiction, what writers should expect from a publisher once their book gets accepted and much more. The floor will also be open to questions from the audience. SATURDAY 21st, 9:00 a.m.
At Digital Book World I’ll be on a panel called “Talking to the Genre Fiction Reader: Publisher-driven genre communities” moderated by Sarah Weinman. Description is as follows:
The most obvious verticals for big publishers are genre-based: romance, science-fiction, and crime. In genres, publishers already have a title output large enough to build a community around. But does it make sense for many large publishers and some smaller ones to be building “communities” of science-fiction or romance readers, or does that strategy just leave the field open for a third party super-aggregator to take everybody’s business? A panel of large publishers with genre-based vertical efforts will discuss the development and future of communities built around genre reading habits. WEDNESDAY 25th, 10:30 a.m.