All around us, the traditional publishers are in a state of — shall we say ‘chaos’. That’s quite polite, and also plays on the state of primal chaos where nothing is formed, and that which was is devoured. The old ‘we are the only gateway’ dominance they held is gone now. The situation in Indies is… having a shake down too. And with it of course certainty and predictability of outcomes are not what they were.
People — authors, editors — are seeing their incomes vanish, careers die.
Many authors are rushing in into academia( see Cedar’s Post) as a backup plan. Here in Australia you can get a PhD…. On your own novel. There are accelerated tracks for authors to get MFA’s. Or if you tick all their boxes and mayhap are brilliant… they’ll just promote you to a position where the fact you don’t need a MFA or PhD to teach at the college. Now, I’ve met a fair number of self-taught engineers and electronics wizards who prove qualification is less important than skill, aptitude and being able to learn. So: who or what qualification you ought to need to teach is lazy man’s option – what really counts is that you can do it well. And yes, the old saying: ‘those that can’t do: teach’ may hold truth. But, holy macaroni!… is that what a college wants or needs… or what the students want or need? For any subject, let along ‘being a writer’ – because surely the most important part of being a writer is appealing to enough people to make a living of some sort, and how to do this? Or is this a ‘take creative writing to get in touch with your inner-self’ option (I thought that was dildo salespeople?). Or ‘the career path for writing… is a teaching job, teaching people to write’.
I suppose I am being needlessly idealistic here, but call it a product of doing the one of the toughest academic courses in aquaculture… led by people who were frequently consulted to design and set up systems… who had never built or run commercially successful units. When I got my first job on a fish farm, I learned very rapidly that I knew a lot of theory, and nothing much about the reality, and that the advice they’d handed out at a price had sent a lot of people broke. I ended up taking a lot of advice from one of the few success stories – who had developed his own system, made it work, and then, because he really enjoyed it, took a post-grad degree in it – and continued to run and make money from his own. That was advice worth taking and indeed worth paying for. Which is why I suggest you follow, and yes, chip in to the Business Rusch.
One of the frequent yowls is that – thanks to the ease of e-book publishing we’re drowning in a sea of bad self-published books which would never have made it through the traditional industry. To paraphrase and blend Tom Simon and the Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy… I guess that about wraps it up for Samuel Clements. The shakeout is happening – partly via covers and ‘also bought’ and also I think through price. At one stage cheap meant sales. Now… cheap is also an indicator of value. And I don’t think we’re near saturation yet – this is surely saturation. And yet it supports an industry and some of the authors. Now THAT is Traditional Publishing working its butt off sell books.
Do you think we’re full up? Would you as a writer sign up for a ‘literature’ type course? What would you expect? What is this literature stuff anyway? And what other sites can you commend to writers – and readers?