Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Publishing Professionals May Be Trying To Do Too Much

I really struggled with this title today. I don't know how many times I wrote it, deleted it and tried again. So, if this sounds a bit rambling at first, just stick with me. I promise things will make sense in a moment.

As the publishing industry struggles to work though the tough economic times, when people aren't buying books, or they are only looking for the cheap ones, I fear that many, are jumping on ideas and programs that are going to become barriers to being successful in this business. It all seems to be about the money. In other words, the more ways I can find to bring in cash, the better off I will be. I do fear, however, that this approach is bringing down the quality of their work, whether they are editors, agents or writers.

It seems that many individuals are going after, what appears to be "the quick buck". Sure, they jump into these programs, justifying their decisions with wanting to be "at the head of the game" and yes, some may end up being there. Unfortunately, I greatly fear that many of these people may be making decisions that simply are going to either ruin their original (and most likely successful career) or, more likely, just produce a lesser quality of work.

Now don't get me wrong. I do believe in innovation. I do believe in trying new things. But when we think this through, we also have to consider the potential consequences of that move.

Let me be a bit more specific here.

I have toyed with the idea of incorporating into Greyhaus, an editorial model that other agents have tried. But I have to say, every time I think about that option. I change my mind. Sure, I could now have some additional income via the sales from those books, but their is a price to be paid. What about my work as an agent? As an advocate for my writers who are working hard with their career. In simple terms, there are only so many hours in the day and something will have to take a back seat.

I have also see authors, who see an potential new source of income for their careers in working as editors of other publishing companies. Do these people have something to offer other writers? You better believe it! But again, I have to ask, what will be lost? In some cases, these authors have been kicked out of professional organizations. Was this worth it? Remember that we joined these organizations for not just the comraderie, but also for the networking and resources? Is that now gone? And of course there is the writing. The time they are spending on editing some other author's work could potentially have gone to improving their own writing. Could it be that the decline in sales with their writing is not so much because of the economy, but because of the lack of time they spent on that continual growth and learning?

In no way am I going to say that the decisions these people are making are wrong. I am simply asking if these decisions are really worth it? Have they honestly thought things through clearly before making that jump?


  1. This is something I'm currently struggling with. I recently started a small independent publishing company as part of a class project for my MFA at Chatham University. I enjoyed the experience of publishing so much that I'd really like to continue in some manner, but the question is, of course: How do I ensure that I don't let publishing take over my writing?

    I, personally, would only ever want to sign with an agent who is focused on his/her clients and the careers of his/her clients, for what the opinion of an MFA candidate is worth.

    My potential answer for my problem (a much easier one than the one agents face since it only affects me!) is to simply set aside a certain amount of time for writing each day, and to let nothing else impede on that time, no matter what. Will it work? If not, I know what I'll be cutting out (and it won't be the writing).

  2. As a writer, it is interesting watching the publishing world change and evolve (or devolve as the case may be). Sites like Smashwords let people self publish for free and get their work in front of people on sites like, and Amazon. Then tons of people download these books because they "sell" them for free or very little cost. People from my writing group have even began to turn to self publishing and are making money at it. Self publishing doesn't hold the same stigma it used to. HOWEVER, there are still some of us who want to get our work out there with a legitimate publishing house. I am fully capable of making people laugh and fall in love with my characters - but grammar is not my strong suit, so I will get an editor to help me. I do not want to self-publish because I want to present the best book I can to the public. I don't want someone's first impression of me as a writer to be something I threw together and put out there just because I could. Even if I worked on my book for years, paying incredible attention to detail and grammar, it would still need editing. I hope the people self-publishing accomplish their dreams. I want other people to believe in my work too before I inflict it on the public.

  3. I still like your idea of representing self-published authors. Naturally, your selection process would be rigorous, but it is an emerging market. Ignoring it is like the U.S. ignoring India or China's rise in influence.

    What's it hurt to test it out on one or two authors and see if it works out?