Friday, 9 May 2008

New Trends in Publishing Give Writers More Choices Than Ever

As I outlined in the previous post, the publishing industry is going through a lot of changes. Emerging writers now have more choices than ever. In larger houses, the midlist is shrinking, but there are still contracts to be had. With the advent of POD, there is a boom in the small press. Self-publishing is getting huge. Ebooks, once ignored as a gimmick, are now getting serious attention.

So where should an emerging writer submit their work? In my opinion, the big publishers are still the best bet, because they offer the largest advances and give you a chance to make a living as a writer. The major downside to them, of course, is they take forever to get back to you and have a murderous rejection rate. Oh, and they only market the big names.

What about small presses, many of which are now using POD? This can be a great option for someone who doesn't have making money as a major motivation. Small presses are like the Wild West of publishing these days, covering every topic under the sun. There are small presses just for psychological self-help books, ones just for Lovecraft pastiches, others for specific subgenres of mystery. The list goes on and on. Many of these produce a high quality of work. Hippocampus Press springs to mind. I've bought many of their books, and helped with research on a couple, and the editing, layout, and general presentation show a much greater love for book production than most major houses.

Self-publishing I've covered before. There are a few specific situations where self-publishing is a viable option, but in general, if you want readers, it's not a good idea.

Ebooks are gaining respectability. I've had good impressions of the people in the ebook industry, and it's beginning to make money. The major sf/fantasy publisher Baen is getting into them, as is romance giant Harlequin. The big drawback, besides the lack of advances, is that the main moneymaker for ebooks is erotic romance. Not my cup of tea.

So as I said below, the publishing industry is doing well, and that's good news for writers. Oh, there are the problems of the shrinking midlist (especially painful to yours truly), consolidation, advances not keeping up with inflation, and sharp business practices, but the doom-and-gloom posters on many writing boards are seeing the glass totally empty when in fact it's more than half full.

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Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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