Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where Are We Going To In Publishing?

Things are changing right now in publishing. This is one of those "no duh" statements. And yet, that statement is really on the minds of so many in the business including writers, editors and agents. We all seem to want that crystal ball that will tell us the exact path that we want to take so we can become the originator of that new trend, or at least the person on the cutting edge. We also want to be able to see the future to know if we should bail before things get too bad.

Unfortunately, that crystal ball is simply not there.

I have said this for a couple of years now, and I will say it again. I think we are seeing an industry in the middle of some serious growing pains. There are certainly changes happening when it comes to the delivery model of books, the way we work the books through the edititorial process, and certainly, the types of books that are showing up on the shelves (virtual or otherwise). What makes this so confusing right now is that, I do believe, too many people in this business are simply guessing and running. They throw all of their energy at a single venture in the hopes that this single approach will be the one that makes it.

When a couple of people start doing this, the rest of the group starts jumping on board with this idea calling it the "new way" of doing things. We saw this with "chick lit". We saw this with e-pubs. We saw this with the self-pub movement. Were these, or are these approaches bad? Absolutely not. Each has merits and each certainly has something to contribute. But, each of these ideas (along with all of the other ones we have out there in this business) are stilll in that early growing stage.

Think of it this way. Trying to predict what each of these models will be or do, is like making a prediction on what a newborn is going to be when he or she grows up. There are simply too many variables early on in that baby's life.
So does this mean we quit trying these new approaches? No way! We have to experiment and see what happens. But, in the end, we have to remember that there is one key constant in all of this. The writing, the actual story we compose has to be strong and stable. The characters, plot, setting and theme need to be amazing and universal. The writing should be able to transcend time.

If we think of the great pieces of writing found in the canon of literature, we will see a lot of different approaches, styles, and genres. Some were daring. Some challenged our thinking? But what we remember of these unique pieces of writing is the quality of the work. Not how it was cutting edge.

So, where are we going? Honestly, until the dust settles, I don't think you can get an honest answer. Yes, there will be people who tell you they know, but their guess is as good as mine or yours.

Just go with the flow and write the best damn story you can write.



  1. Excellent points Scott. For so many of us new to the business of writing, it can seem confusing, but you are bang on about writing the best damned story you can. After all, that's the whole point, isn't it? Everything else is beside the point and will sort itself out.

  2. "Just go with the flow and write the best damn story you can write."

    Printing it off and taping it to my computer now. Your direct and common-sense advice is why I always start my day with your blog, Scott. Thanks.