Tag: publishing

Guest Post: Gail Z. Martin – The Changing Business of #Publishing (#writing post)

Iron & Blood Martin CoverUnleaded: Fuel for Writers is pleased to host Gail Z. Martin as our Guest Blogger for Friday, July 24th, 2015. Gail wrote for us last year and you can check out her post on Writing an Epic Fantasy Series.  This time she’s talking about the nitty-gritty of publishing.  How it is, how it was, and how it may become.

Also as a quick note, her new book Iron & Blood just came out this month! It is a steampunk novel set in an alternative history Pittsburgh chock full of airships, supernatural creatures, amazing inventions, and lots of explosions.  What more could one ask for? Here’s the scoop (yes, I’m making you read an advertisement before getting to the article…but it sounds so cool!):

New Pittsburgh, 1898 – a crucible of invention and intrigue. Born from the ashes of devastating fire, flood and earthquake, the city is ruled by the shadow government of The Oligarchy. In the swarming streets, people of a hundred nations drudge to feed the engines of progress, while in the abandoned tunnels beneath the city, supernatural creatures hide from the light, emerging only to feed.

Jake Desmet and Rick Brand travel the world to secure treasures and unusual items for the collections of wealthy patrons, accompanied by Jake’s cousin, Veronique LeClerque. But when their latest commission leads to Jake’s father’s murder, the three friends are drawn into a conspiracy where dark magic, industrial sabotage and the nightmares come to life will ultimately threaten not just New Pittsburgh, but the whole world.

 

The Changing Business of Publishing

ebooksTechnological change has destabilized the publishing industry, creating a structural upheaval that extends from top to bottom, from the way authors get paid to the means to produce and distribute their work. Not only does this mean that publishers must re-evaluate their role and value in the process of creating books and bringing them to market, but it also means that authors must begin to see themselves as part of the production process beyond the writing itself, to embrace an unprecedented level of entrepreneurship, and to navigate the changing relationship with publishers and the public.

Not too long ago, book publishers had a clear role. They selected books for publication, bankrolled the book production process, maintained relationships with the distribution channels of stores and libraries, and did a bit of promotion. Self-publishing before ebooks was difficult and expensive and without access to bookstores, was difficult for authors to do successfully, even ignoring the stigma attached to the process.

Four big things changed the status quo: the rise of ebooks and the decline of traditional bookstores, as well as the increased accessibility of professional-quality graphic design and publishing software plus the shift to print-on-demand technology.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe combination of good design software and the advent of ebooks meant that it was less expensive and much easier to produce a good-looking book without going through traditional publishing channels. The decline of physical bookstores and the rise of online booksellers gave ebooks a whole new audience, and print-on-demand meant that authors no longer had the financial barrier of purchasing an entire print-run of their book. Individual authors and small presses now had the ability to compete with traditional publishers in a way that hadn’t been possible since the Gutenberg Press.

So here we are, about a decade into this publishing revolution, and no one really knows how to maximize the new system. Big publishers were slow to adopt ebooks and print on demand, and ended up scrambling as profits fell. Small publishers and individuals scrambled to seize first-mover advantage with the technology, but didn’t find the golden egg. Big national chain bookstores have made poor decisions–many of which had nothing to do with books–and gone out of business or cut the number of stores. Independent bookstores, which had largely been driven out of business by the big chains, are starting a comeback. Library spending is struggling as local budgets are cut, in part as an aftereffect of the 2008 recession, and in part because of our current cultural shortsightedness about spending any money that benefits the average person.

And in the middle of the chaos is the individual author, trying to make valid career decisions. It’s no secret or surprise that even many well-known authors keep a day job, and that other established authors have been developing their own publishing capabilities and side businesses as publishers cut advances and shrink book deals. Just like the merger mania and downsizing in Corporate America taught every employee to think of himself as a temporarily hired freelancer or contractor, the shakeup in publishing has led to authors wondering how they can plan a future where they continue to publish and yet also can make a living doing so.

CrowdfundingPic2Increasingly, authors are adopting a hybrid career where they take contracts with traditional publishers, develop other projects through small presses and self-publish additional work. The rise of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding mechanisms to offset the risk of funding a publishing project and the advent of platforms like Patreon to pay authors to produce work have attempted to fill in some of the gaps left by big publishers, though imperfectly.

Authors today need to possess not only the skills to produce a good book, but also be savvy marketers, fearless entrepreneurs, and intrepid self-promoters. The days are long gone when an author’s job is done once the manuscript is turned in to the editor. Self-publishing can generate higher per-book pay, but it takes relentless effort for an individual author to achieve the kind of unit sales common in traditional publishing. Authors who have been in the game long enough to get rights reverted from out of print books now have the task of reformatting those books for ebook release. No one has found the magic formula.

Writing has always been considered to be an uncertain way to make a living, much like the arts and theater. I’d argue that in the long run, the net gain of ebooks, online bookselling and print on demand will work out for the best, although there’s a lot to be mourned in the lack of the stability that landing a contract with a big publisher used to provide. And until a more proven, stable business model emerges from the chaos writers and publishers are going to continue to muddle on, doing the best they can to make a living while creating the books they can’t live without.

kickstarterorderofthestick

Gail Z MartinGail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series; The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Check out more of her work (and blog) at AscendantKingdoms.com.

 

larry-n-martinLarry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading.

 

 

 

Find them at www.JakeDesmet.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin free excerpts, Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

 

 

 

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Video Saturday: Advice on #Writing – How to Get an #Agent (and of course, the dreaded #query letter)

Okay, today’s Video Saturday is about how to get an agent. We picked three short quick videos for friend-of-the-blog (and guest posterTony Dobranski who is in the middle of this process right now. Who better to hear from than the prolific Stephen J. Cannell (one of my favorite inspirations for great dialogue), “Literary Agents: The Best Pitch Letters They’ve Received,” (with some fun examples), and “2 Quick Tips on Writing Query Letter from Agent Kristin Nelson.”   Good luck, Tony!

Stephen J. Cannell

 

Literary Agents

 

Kristin Nelson

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(Non) Video Saturday: Book Publishing Paths via @JaneFriedman

As we all know, when it comes to books there is no longer a single path to publication. But what are the ways?  We know “traditional publishing vs. indie publishing” as those are the two categories usually mentioned; and they’re usually mentioned with the “vs.” between them.  😉 It seems there is more to it than that.  Don’t just look at the infographic (click on it for a clearer version), but check out her blog post on this at: http://janefriedman.com/2013/11/19/infographic-key-book-publishing-paths/

4-Key-Publishing-Models

 

 

 

 

 

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Video Saturday: Ursula K. Le Guin and how “We will need writers who remember freedom”

Via BillMoyers.com: “In accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at this year’s National Book Awards, eminent sci-fi writer Ursula Le Guin made a knock-out speech about the power of capitalism, literature and imagination that, as she put it afterwards, “went sort-of viral on YouTube.””

From Le Guin –

…think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality. …

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want — and should demand — our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

You can watch the video or read the full transcript here: http://parkerhiggins.net/2014/11/will-need-writers-can-remember-freedom-ursula-k-le-guin-national-book-awards/

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So you Want to be a Writer – Video Clip

While trolling the Internet, I came across the blog Writer’s Remorse and read an older post that made me want to cry as much as it made me laugh.  If you can get past the digitized voices in the video, the myths, outright assumptions and arrogance about writing and how “easy” it is to be a published writer, you’ll finish the video either laughing hysterically or, like one of the characters, ready to do violence.

If the video doesn’t load, please do check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fc-crEFDw&feature=player_embedded

You can find out more about this and other similar videos from the original creator David Kazzie at: http://wahoocorner.blogspot.com/


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