Like most of you authors, I've had a lot on my mind as the year wound down, and 2010 headed in. 2009 was a year of noticeable trauma for everyone in the business; author, agent, publisher, bookseller, freelancer ...no one went unscathed. Some people decided "Enough already" and opted out. Others took a wait and see, hold-on approach. And others still decided to ignore it all (since publishing has always had its ups and downs) and just plow on ahead. We lost a lot of talented people on every front, and they will each be missed. Oddly I have not been comforted by the people or publishers who are proceeding as if nothing has happened. This was as alarming as the low book sales all year. Denial is certainly not the productive or healthy answer. Facing the changes head on is the only way I know to learn, grow, and enjoy the wonderful world of the written word.
So for those writers who live in the real world with me, the big adaptation now is to know your target readers so well that you know where and how they buy their books. Know this before you've even done more than a rough draft of your ideas. Is your reader still going to a bookstore and buying a printed book? Is he or she buying a download for their Kindle or an e-book? Is "book" even the right way to reach your particular reader? These questions now precede even the usual "Positioning" and "Competitive books" questions.
The multitude of publishing options can be confusing, sure, but options are never a bad thing for a writer. And let's not overlook that the big wave of self-publishing print-on-demand (POD) no longer carries the same stigma of "vanity press." (Note: A badly written book is still a badly written book even if it is bound and made to look like a published book.) It's been exciting to see some remarkable books self-published and well promoted to the target audience, with creative internet marketing, paying off for the author. It is increasingly a legitimate choice for an author, and sometimes the smartest one of all.
So yes, there are many more decisions a writer has to make today, but picking the right option for yourself is worth it. You may lose getting a traditional book deal with a traditional publisher who pays you some sort of advance on royalties, but it's possible you will do far better than with the traditional deal.
We each decide how to respond to a new environment. What have you decided?
Photo credit: (c)2007 L Harper