Monday, 29 March 2010

Shouldn't Have Read That

watch the tear...
Cut Short by Leigh Russell
... that's how I feel right now! I've just read an article in book2book about the demise of books as we know them. The journalist posits a future where we will be awash with self-published ebooks - most of which will be poorly edited, lacking any kind of 'quality control' as the traditional gatekeepers of agent, publisher and editor vanish. "How long can it be before Tesco (which already has a 10 per cent share of the book market) stops dealing with fussy publishers and brands its own books?" the journalist asks. The article concludes: "the danger is our bookshelves will come to resemble a long line of branded baked beans." This is so depressing! Why did I read it? I should have paid attention to the headline "Apoca-lit Now" and given this one a wide berth. Now I feel really depressed!
How do other writers maintain their enthusiasm for writing books in such a dreary cultural climate?

19 comments:

Jilly said...

On the other hand you could argue that the increasing presence of self-published or small press books is a direct result of the increasingly commercialised output of some parts of the publishing industry. People want variety and small print runs and POD mean people have that choice. Commercial doesn't necessarily equal good any more than self published equals bad.

Leigh Russell said...

Of course not all traditionally published books are good (far from it!!) and it would be nonsense to suggest that all self published books are bad.
Nevertheless, having to pass the hurdles of agent and publisher was once a safeguard of sorts, even if it didn't produce better books in some cases.
Being an 'author' of 'books' is rapidly becoming an obsolete concept anyway, as we live in a world where technology allows anyone who fancies writing to produce a 'book'. I think it will be a great loss to our culture when full-time dedicated authors disappear, but not everyone shares that opinion. Many people are happy to remove the hurdles, allowing everyone to be a writer. It's certainly the way things are going and many welcome the change.

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Pat said...

Ya gotta have faith!

Leigh Russell said...

You're right, Pat! And, at the end of the day, it's the writing that counts. No good feeling negative.

Star said...

I have mixed feelings about it really. I do feel that a lot of good work does not get published because the agent doesn't like it or can't be bothered to read it. Why not allow self-publishing for a reasonable price and let the public judge.
The other thought concerns subsequent books. Once published it does not follow that every book that author writes will be a good one. However, they will be published because the first one has passed the post.
There are so many would-be authors that cannot get past the post and deserve a chance.
Incidentally I have seen quite a few glaring errors in published works, making me wonder how the book got past the editing stage.
I'm glad you enjoyed being chosen for the Happiness Award I gave you and I'm also glad it brightened a dark day.
Don't be discouraged.
Blessings, Star

Leigh Russell said...

Yes, Star. There are a lot of writers who aren't lucky enough to find a publisher. There are just so many talented writers and not enough publishers to go round - because not enough people are buying books!

Val said...

For my own fun I have written some silly stories for my grand kids and did the self publishing thing.

Now I have other parents asking for those very same books. I can't make $ off from it really. But it has been a positive experience.

I think in the future there will be many more choices for those of us who love to read.

I still grab my mystery novels from the library shelf or store shelf every chance I get!

Leigh Russell said...

I suppose if I'm honest, I'm being a bit greedy. With so many books to choose from, it will no longer be possible for traditionally published authors to make a living from book sales, and the only revenue stream will be TV and film deals, not books.
Your books sound like fun, Val! I used to make up silly stories for my children, but nothing anyone else would ever want to read.

Barry J. Northern said...

I listen to the Dragon Page podcast. Their discussions about the current trends and possible futures of books and the industry are always insightful and realistic. Things are always changing, and there're plenty of great opportunities for writers now that there weren't before. It's too easy for journalists to a write a gloomy piece. Chin up! :)

Leigh Russell said...

You're right, Barry. Journalists like a gloomy story, don't they. I'll just keep writing! I'm sure you'll do the same.

Simon said...

Leigh, the important thing is the work. That goes on, whether there's money or a mass audience or not. We write because we have to and not to do it is suicide. When the piece is finished, put the business head on and find a place to send it. And if they stop publishing books as we know them, use whatever medium is new. Adapt and flourish! One way or the other, it will always be possible to make a living as a writer if the will to do so is there. I have to believe that, anyway, or I'll go mad. Well, madder ;)

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Simon. You're so right. I've always said the real buzz is the writing.
I think I went round the bend a long time ago...

Suzanne Jones said...

It sounds like a scary future, but there will always be those of us who prefer the good, old-fashioned real book.

X

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Suzanne, you're my kind of reader! I suppose I'll have to move into the 21st century one day... I feel as though I'm barely into the 20th century right now.

Rick said...

You know why I'm still excited about writing? Because I get to read and talk to dazzling writers like yourself. So you can't quit because you're too talented and a lot of people would cry. Readers follow writers, not markets!

So get back to writing, will you? I'm running out of good books.

DJ Kirkby said...

I keep writing in the hopes of a 'proper' publishing contract someday. So, enjoy the fact that you've got a publisher and tell yourself that they'll always be there as long as you keep on writing wonderful books :)

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Rick - I can live with flattery like that! I hope you look out for ROAD CLOSED - proofs are done and it will be published in June. I'm beginning to feel just a little excited about it! Thank you so much for your support.

Leigh Russell said...

DJKirkby - Whatever you do, keep writing. I know I've said it before, but the writing is the most wonderful part of this whole experience. Being published is exciting but writing gives you a far deeper satisfaction.