The Tumult in Publishing: Real or Imagined?


A recent thread in a LinkedIn Writers’ Group caught my attention: “THE TUMULT IN PUBLISHING” (yes, it was all caps). A journalist posed the questions: Where is publishing heading? Where might we be in the next five years? What do we do to ensure our [writers’] survival?

Some of the answers were interesting. I warn you now there’s no one famous among the contributors quoted below, but keep reading.

Jackie Speel suggests: “diversification of skills … and developing niche specialisms/areas of expertise and knowledge.”

Margery Phelps says: “publishing is changing; it’s good because many authors/writers are now being published who may have been passed over by mainstream publishing houses in days gone by. However, my main concern is the quality of writing now being published by indies.

Seems to me that there are too many “authors” totally lacking writing skills with no sense regarding grammar, sentence structure, story line continuity, back-story usage, character development, plot, and economy of words. I’d estimate that three-quarters of the books I’m asked to read and review are unfit for publication. When writing quality succumbs to vanity publishing of anything by anybody, we all lose.

Lawrence Grobel laments: “It’s disheartening, to see how quickly our lives have been affected by the Internet and by Amazon. I’ve written 27 books. The first dozen were published by Scribners, NAL, RH, Hyperion, S&S, Da Capo, the U. of Mississippi. I did book tours for most of them, was on TV and radio, and a few of them became bestsellers on national lists. I was also writing about 16 articles a year for national magazines, earning a six-figure income. And then, almost overnight, the freelance assignments just dried up. Editors I worked with retired, or were let go; magazines stopped paying $3 a word; print turned to digital; and when I wrote a 3000 word piece for the Saturday Evening Post and they paid me $200, I knew the bell had tolled. It just wasn’t worth the struggle to chase after assignments if I couldn’t really make a living from doing it. So, I turned to self-publishing, and have put out my last 15 books on Amazon (kindle and CreateSpace).”

Raymond Walker says: “I edit a print magazine and we receive short story submissions in their droves, most are terrible. Most self published books (my apologies for this comment to those that do a good job) are terrible. Soon the focus will return as there will always be readers the focus upon separating the wheat from the chaff. At the moment there is no way to do this but it will appear.”

Tamara Tabel writes: “How you get your story out to the public is what’s evolving. What I see is more traditionally published authors going to self-publishing, as the stigma is declining and they can make a larger percentage on royalties.

What’s changed the most in my opinion is that authors are almost singularly responsible for marketing their work. So whether you go traditional printed book, self-published or hybrid press, or just ebook, you still need to make your book stand out from the clutter.”

And let’s end on Mary Davis‘s optimistic note: “Authors that change with the times and remain current will have no problem. From my perspective, the ‘new world of publishing’ means only infinite options and endless opportunity!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s