Once upon a time … to get a book published you had to:
1. Write the thing
2. Write a synopsis
3. Write a query
4. Send the query to hundreds of agents
5. Hope that one of those agents took you on as a client and pitched your work to editors at publishing houses
6. Maybe, just maybe, one of those houses would see the value in your work
7. The book would go through a lengthy editing process
8. And eventually, hopefully, publish your book
Well, I’m assuming that’s sort of the flow of things. I haven’t worked in the book publishing industry. The real point I’m trying to make is that there were hoops – lots of hoops – to jump through if you wanted to be a published author.
Not Any More!
Tree books – books printed on paper – aren’t the only way to get your message out any more. In fact, ebooks are outselling tree books at a record pace. The fact that bookstores are closing is evidence of that. And, yes, I have mixed emotions about that. Bookstores and libraries are some of my favorite places and it looks like technology will hurt both – possibly drive them right out of existence.
The good news, though, about the changing reading and publishing world is that it has thrown the doors wide open for newbie writers in both nonfiction and fiction.
It also throws the doors wide open for readers. Since dipping my toes in the fledgling ebook world, I’ve discovered a few indie-authors who rock some great stories. I’ll share some of them with you here in the future. Many of these authors were rejected time after time by the book publishing establishment.
This is the Old Way
And I wonder how many fabulous stories were buried by that establishment over the decades and centuries? Those publishers in the skyscrapers have dictated what books will and will not be in bookstores.
Gatekeepers is a term I learned in journalism school. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense at all. I worked in TV news and saw that most gatekeepers are very conscientious about the significance of their jobs. The economies of time and money demand that someone man the gates.
Publishing executives, no doubt, have personal preferences on the genre of books and writing styles they like. That’s gate number one. Gate number two is much more significant - will the book sell to a mass market? And it has to be a mass market, right? Professional editors, pagination folks, cover designers, publicists, etc. and so on, all those employees have to get paid. Firing up a massive press for 100′s of rolls of paper isn’t cheap either. Therefore, the gatekeepers select books based on the odds of whether those books will sell well. That’s the old way.
The New Way Doesn’t Need Gatekeepers
Digital publishing costs next to nothing. A computer, some software and a pinch of electricity are all it takes to publish a book these days. If a book doesn’t sell, eh? Not much money is lost and we can try again.
Authors can take that list at the top of this post and scratch off hoops 3-8. Those hoops are no longer necessary to get published.
That’s not to say that #1 on that list gets any easier. Writing well is still the number one hoop. That’s also not to say there aren’t new hoops. There are, but they aren’t as mysterious and difficult to get through.
Speaking of writing … I better stop musing about the publishing industry and get to work on my novel