I spend almost every weekday lunch with an editor or a publisher talking about, among other things, our business; what has been happening and where it is going. Sadly, most of the time these days, my lunch companions are bemoaning the state of things. Fewer books are being published, editors are losing their jobs, and advances are going down.
Perhaps I am being a Pollyanna, but I don’t see the future as anything but positive for writers. Of course it can be more challenging to sell a book these days – as I have stated in this blog more than once, publishers appear to care more about platform and credentials than they do about the actual contents of the proposals and manuscripts they are considering. But there are still those out there who do care about the writing and, even if the particular material presented to them isn’t quite right, many do want to help the author develop a book that will work.
What’s most exciting to me though, is the developing world of ebooks and online publishing. There are now so many more possibilities for unpublished and even traditionally published authors.
We at DGLM had a very interesting meeting last week with some publishing executives from Amazon who are launching a large number of publishing initiatives. It has been such a long time since there has been really original thinking in our business and I, for one, am hugely encouraged by what I heard.
And then, of course, there is the Wild West world of online publishing. Last Friday, Alexandra Alter wrote this article in The Wall Street Journal about one woman’s success in this area. Though Darcie Chan’s experience is unusual and very few will be able to duplicate it, the piece does point out that there are so many new possibilities available to writers who have previously been turned down by publishers. This also opens the door to those who never really aspired to be published by a traditional publisher as well as to those whose books are out of print and who want to breathe new life into them.
The DGLM online publishing initiative is something I am very excited about building – just as I have helped to build our agency over the last twenty-five years. It would be wonderful if my colleagues on the publishing side, rather than seeing the negatives in today’s publishing landscape, looked forward to the future with excitement and a willingness to change.
As I have said all along, digital publishing has increased reading and book buying. Looking into the future, we all need to help to build that world so its foundations are strong and it can offer more possibilities to more writers and readers. As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts and comments about this.