By Martha Reed
The big take-away from Bouchercon this year was the continuing book market shift to ePublishing. From what I heard at the panels, the workshops and later, much later in the hotel bar, authors are buzzing with the idea they can publish their own work, keep up to 70% of their royalties and access almost instant account statements. This is a seismic change from the traditional hidebound (in more ways than one) publishing model that as near as I can tell was constructed for Charles Dickens.
There is a lot of discussion and arguments to be made for print versus eBook but that’s not what I want to talk about here. There’s an even more important item that should be on every writer’s horizon and that is: how are writers going to connect with their readers going forward? That piece of the puzzle is in transition as well, with bookstores closing their doors, author tours getting nixed and newspapers dropping their review coverage.
I think this is where member organizations like Sisters in Crime could step up to the plate (as permitted by the By-Laws) because this is a fundamental process change across the whole marketplace. Another example of the breadth of this change is that even stalwart Kirkus Review is now offering to review independently published material for a price ($425-$575) with their Kirkus Indie Program. Verily, how the mighty have fallen. This was unthinkable five years ago.
In the end, though, writers need to remember that we are in charge of producing the story. It shouldn’t matter how the story is told or sold: paper, audio, or digital format should be left up to the discretion and preference of the reader. Sure, as a writer, I feel the pressure to conform to the traditional publishing model: query letter, synopsis, hire an agent, find a publishing house editor but I think the trick now is to explore the new model and sure, make some money at it but our continuing commitment as writers must be to the craft. That is our job description.