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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

To publish or not to publish?

There is beauty all around us...
I attended an interesting talk today, given at The IOW Literary Festival, attended by two well known authors, and two publishers and found the discussion on the future of publishing interesting.

It was not as dire as the one I saw last year at the Festival of Writing in York - they looked ready to throw in the towel then.

The outlook was optimistic, and I really believe ebooks are not seen as a threat to the industry anymore. They have concerns, obviously:

1) Will booksellers cut back on stores? And will this in turn lead to a further fall in readers?

2) Will authors lose out as mainstream agents and publishers squeeze their margins further?

3) Will quality books or little "gems" be harder to find?

Before I answer these questions, as they replied, let me make it clear that there was no representation on the forum for self-publishing. I would have loved to have been on the stage with them! Therefore, I do think the discussion was skewed firmly towards the issues with traditional publishing.

Personally, I imagine they are going with caution and not wanting to upset us authors that choose to go it alone... I think S-P authors are pioneers entering the new land to be honest. Willing to fight for a stake, work hard to improve, and fulfil our destiny - but hey, call me a dreamer...

Even though I acknowledge that an agent/ publisher would make my life easier on many fronts, I don't think that I would ever be as proud of what I have achieved (or understood the process) had I not walked this road on my own - might I add that they all seemed to indicate S-P is EASY - HA! I would love to see them do what a lot of authors do on their own! But, regardless, everyone need to earn a living so I do not hold any grudges. I would protect my job if it was under threat too.

Anyway, enough said...

1) This is a huge possibility and concerns were raised on how readers will be able to check on the best works, ask for advice, etc - they mentioned Waterstones a lot (for the UK).

On this front, I wanted to say that you can download a 10% sample online, you get recommendations based on your reading via booksellers online, and you can look at reviews to get a flavour for the story via places like Goodreads, blogs, etc. When I asked for advice via a "real" store I have been told on numerous occasions - I have not read that one, let me look it up online, read Fifty Shades - it's highly recommended! Sorry, I lost respect for the knowledgeable bookseller at that point!

2) Yes, they will. It'll be harder for authors to get an agent via the big boys, but on the flip side there has been an explosion of smaller independent publishers, and even agents, deciding to go it alone. So, all hope is not lost! :)

3) Possibly. They believe true gems of literary fiction might become harder to find.

My counter to that is (and I apologise here to anyone who disagrees) the average reader does not want to read a piece of literary fiction.

Anyway, as one of the authors said... "whatever happens, it's all about the story."


Hope you enjoyed reading my ramblings,

Vanessa :) xx


  1. All true - the publishers are frightened of missing out. Although I am surprised they didn't make 'quality' their first, second and third argument - of course just because 'they' published it doesn't make it a better story

  2. I agree, self publishing is not easy. For a technophobe like me it was a seven kinds of nightmare. But well worth the experience, and with a following wind might just be worth it.
    (and I do enjoy your ramblings)

  3. Exactly, James - which is why I raised the fact that I have been let down by "recommendations" made by booksellers at times.

    I am not a technophobe, Anita. I relished the challenge at first... now, I just despair on the amount of work involved sometimes - but hey, I must be a sucker for punishment & at least with the anthologies good causes benefit :)

    Thanks to both of you for commenting (I was beginning to think no-one read my blogs... then again, I enjoyed venting!)

    Best regards,
    Vanessa :)

  4. Hi Vanessa, what an interesting post! I confess I have missed your last couple of posts, but I always enjoy your blog. I think you have presented their case well here and in a very balanced way, but I agree with you about SP. It isn't easy at all! It's very hard work, but then we know that don't we. Great to hear how things are moving with the publishing world though!