Peggy Bechko: Connecting Your Writing With Publishing


by Peggy Bechko

If you write a lot and along side of that, read a lot, then you’ve no doubt heard the screams of the publishing industry – “the sky is falling, the sky is falling…” And, “it’s the end of the world as we know it!” Ebooks, digital, Indie publishers, oh my!

Yep, it is, well, for some, but we as writers need to connect with that even if many big New York publishing houses aren’t and recognize the new blooming opportunities. The publishing industry can appear to be an out-of-touch unstable mess with policies of granting silly, over-bloated advances to ‘high brow’ writers who generally sell very few books. Meanwhile readers are looking for entertainment and/or information. So the publishing industry on some levels is failing, but in other areas, there’s great potential. Read on.

Think about this. If there’s so few ‘dedicated’ readers, and the number is dropping all the time as many big publishing houses will tell us, then myohmy, how are they paying the rent on all those posh Manhattan offices?

So, what’s really suffering in the publishing biz? Mostly Literary Fiction. Have you ever been to any of the book shows and seen the lines for writers such as Danielle Steele, Stephen King, or other icon of ‘entertainment’ fiction? Those lines wind round and round and never seem to get any shorter. Publishers are doing pretty good on that one.

So, from the writer’s viewpoint, don’t buy ‘the sky is falling philosophy’ and don’t worry. Quietly watch what people buy at bookstores or check out Amazon to see what’s ‘bestselling’. Readers in the real world decide what they want, not a publishers in New York or wherever. And those readers want a lot. I recently spotted a patron in a bookstore check out with a copy of “Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting”, a craft magazine on beading, a copy of “The Husband” by Dean Koontz and a paranormal romance by Christine Feehan. So, looks like readers really aren’t locked into the “same ol, same ol” after all. Wish I could peek over the shoulder of a reader purchasing books online to see what they’re getting. More research would be needed for that.

It’s time for writers to find more venues and to explore more markets. It’s up to us to rearrange the publishing business in the model we want to see. And even while we do that, check out the most current listings of Publishing Houses in the United States. It’s staggering. And it includes the monoliths as well as the independents. Monoliths are slow to move, but keep your eye on the more nimble independents. They’re the more creative in business models, innovation and marketing.

Big publishing is slowly beginning to think beyond the book – flat, bound, nice and useful. Okay, yep, and no. The web is the newest outlet and the E-book market is growing by leaps and bounds; but I bet you know that already! Self-publishing for niche markets is growing quickly as well. Look into them, research, don’t limit yourself.

Don’t corner yourself to one field of writing either if you have the capacity. Love fiction? Me too. But I also write articles, grant requests, have taught online courses and on the ground courses. I’ve written travel articles, how to articles, and biographies, screen scripts, blogs and magazine articles. Broaden your abilities as much as you can. The publishing industry can’t sustain itself as only ‘print’ and so it’s making content digitized, downloadable, and yes, there’ll still be a place for the hard copy book.

Change is already upon us and more is coming. You, as the writer, must recognize this reality and forge your new path. Mix your career, write in different areas, of course approach the print publishers if that’s where you want to place your work, but don’t rule out other avenues as well. E-publishing, self-publishing, publishing with independents; all of these are now open doors to writers. And a bit of research will glean you even more opportunities to build your own empire.

Remember, the future of publishing is not technology or free samples. The future is about giving readers what they want and there have never been so many opportunities to do so. As a reader I currently read from my Kindle Fire, my computer and hard copy books. So I suggest you enjoy what you write and don’t limit yourself to any one possibility – there are many and for now it just seems to be growing.

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