By Martha Reed
As I get closer to finishing my manuscript, I’m starting to move my focus toward selling it. This presents some new ground to cover since the publishing business is in such turmoil lately. I’m not even sure which business model to follow since I’m not sure which one is going to survive.
Being a writer nowadays is a little like living in a contested village during a civil war when neither army is particularly friendly. I’m in the middle still trying to feed the chickens and milk the cow while praying the soldiers don’t burn down the barn.
All around me I see bricks and mortar bookstores closing at both the national and local independent level. I read of traditional publishing house editors getting down-sized to become agents and of agents transitioning to become freelance editors. I even know of one editor who became a writer who is now an agent. Shazooey! No wonder I’m confused.
I think the trick here, as I gaze into my crystal ball, is to keep your eye on the technology. Technology will tell us which direction “progress” is going to go. It’s an historic pattern: faster, cheaper, easier, successful. The younger generation has already adapted to it; quite possibly the Baby Boomers may be the Last Generation of paper book readers.
But that doesn’t mean doom and gloom.
I like to think publishers may migrate back to an older business model my grandfather knew: quality acid-free paper versions of books with marvelous engravings and fine bindings. I think there will always be a market for the reader connoisseur who wants a fine copy of a favorite novel. Illustrators have been starving for more than fifty years. Maybe this is their turn to re-enter the book-making marketplace?
So what do I see? Ebooks, trade paperbacks for under $15 and luxury bookmaking. That’s my best guess.