1. ziggykinsella
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    ziggykinsella New Member

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    Are writers going to be more in control?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ziggykinsella, Apr 11, 2010.

    It used to be that if you didn't have an agent or publisher you were doomed to obscurity if you wanted to become a professional writer. With the advent of blogs, twitter and facebook, as well as the increase in e-publishing, there is suddenly a belief amongst writers that they can "truly do it themselves."

    Is this a pipe dream, or a real possibility? Has social networking and the increase in technology taken freed the soul of the writer from the shackles of those hunched over demons of creativity, the publishers and the agents?

    Of course, there are a zillion wannabe writers out there, some good, some bad, some downright awful. The purpose of publishers and agents is to filter out the dross so that all we get is the cream of the crop. But having read some books in recent months that just make my feet curl, I have to say they aren't doing too great a job.

    The question is, in ten years time, will there be publishers and agents? Will there be places you can buy any book, however badly written, and where writers at last hold sway over their own futures? Or is it really just a dream?

    Anyway, cheers for now

    Ziggy
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a dream. As self-publishing becomes easier and cheaper, more and more readers will discover how much crap they have to wade through to find one tiny gem. Publishers are selective because they know what is good enough to sell, and what isn't fit for lining the hamster cage.

    There will always be a place for the keen-eyed publisher, and for the savvy agent who can facilitate introducing writing talent to the publishers who can best serve that talent.
     
  3. ziggykinsella
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    ziggykinsella New Member

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    The thing is, if the face of publishing is changing, you will have good writers who feel there are the tools and opportunities out there to promote themselves without having to resort to a publishing house or an agent. It only takes one or two of them to make a success of it and then people will start heading that route.

    There's always going to be dross - with all the technology we have nowadays, it's set to grow out of control, and I'm not sure there's much than can be done about it except to hit the back button.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Again, it's a dream. You won't be able to promote yourself as well as a major publisher, you won't have the expertise or the resources of a major publisher in all the areas involved in producing a book.

    Sure, there are niche markets. But for the most part, self-publishing is all glitter and no substance. Also, there are plenty of scavengers out tyere ready to take advantage of starry-eyed self-publishers, offering all kinds of value-added services at inflated prices and limited ability to deliver.

    You did ask.
     
  5. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Self-publishing becoming more accessible is not necessarily a good thing. It's already difficult to browse through a bookstore without finding more trash than good literature. Finding what you're looking for is hard, but when anyone can put his book on the shelf and sell it as quality literature no matter how awful it is, people will have nowhere to turn. Aspiring writers' standards will lower because they see that what is "published" has fallen so low. People will eventually realize that what comes from publishers is usually far better than what comes from self-publishers, and the good self-publishers out there will realize that they'll get better results through a real publisher.

    To quote Orson Scott Card on the seeming lack of quality science fiction (though it can apply to any genre):

    "They regard fantasy as somehow a threat to 'good' science fiction, sometimes because fantasy seems to be crowding science fiction off the bookstore shelves... The fact is that what crowds out good science fiction is bad science fiction."
     
  6. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    I can't imagine trying to navigate this world w/o publishers, editors, agents. If I had to try and wade through all the self-published bunk out there, I'd probably want to set myself on fire and jump into a vat of gasoline.

    We're a society that likes the organization. I think that Amazon is becoming the next "bookshelf" in a sense. You have the "those who bought X also bought Y" function which I think is where book buying should be heading. It's a "shelf" in and of itself. And I think it can lead to breaking through some of these genre labels.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is already a lot of noise out there, and to be successful (traditionally published or self-published) a reader has to be noticed. With a publisher, that is easier (as briefly discussed above).

    Here's a rough analogy: Try creating a website (or blog) and see how many folks visit it without some effort on the creator’s part. Even if someone does stumble across it, it'd better be great to hold their attention, even better for them to return, and even more spectacular for them to tell someone else about it...and how great would it have to be for the viewer to actually pay money to view it?

    Okay, now the writer putting in effort into marketing and spreading word of the blog/website can make a difference and bring eyes--but the same process described in the previous paragraph applies of the visitor/reader.

    Having a credible source vouch for a blog/website, and that it's worth the money to spend to see the content, is valuable. A publisher brings that to a writer's works. The publisher says it made the cut, and they worked to edit and improve it. And the work stands alongside other successful works by other authors as testimony, encouraging a potential reader to take a chance and spend money--and then to spread the word.

    Blurbs on a book are another example of vouching. Probably not as effective as the publisher itself, but publishers and authors think they help--and they certainly don't hurt. And certainly the source of the blurb makes a difference. If a credible source pointed to a website/blog (like discussed above) and recommended it, that could make a huge difference. For example, if Dr. Phil said to check out such and such blog for information on this or that...it would make positive impact, I suspect.

    One thing I would add, is that a successful writer, already with an established audience, would have a much better chance of going it alone than an unknown.

    Hope that made a little sense.

    Terry
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that self-publishing and simply expecting to be fished out of the sea of bad books is going to work.

    For the reader, there'd need to be some other structure that evaluates the quality of the work. Which probably leads us to some sort of central organization that does that evaluation.

    For the writer, there'd need to be some structure that makes the book known to potential buyers, and makes it easy for anyone to obtain. And some structure that forces the writer to accept the reality of the bad parts of their work, and correct those bad parts. And someone experienced at getting the book into a good clean readable format, in terms of the words, the visuals, the type, and so on.

    The publisher performs these functions now. I suppose that it would theoretically be possible to split the functions into a bunch of different parties, each of which is hired by the writer, so that the writer essentially becomes his own publishing house, except without the economies of scale, so the costs would be higher. And without the contacts and contracts and distribution channels, so the return would be lower.

    So it's just not looking very practical to me. Now, perhaps the electronic age could make it possible for smaller publishers, and a greater variety of publishers, to survive - I don't know. But I don't see publishers going away.

    ChickenFreak
     

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