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Whether Big House or Small Press

I’m taking yesterday’s topic of borrowing and lending to another level today. Those who’ve worked their way into the publishing business in the past few years, depending on the preconceptions of what it means to be a writer, have learned the new definition. They’ve also learned about the new work ethic of writers.

Today’s Writers

Writers shamelessly promote their work, and the work of others, everywhere they can because their careers’ futures depend on that promotion. Also, the big publishing houses today simply don’t have the promotion budgets they had in the past.

Other writers encourage us to guest blog on their sites, whether for self-promotion to a new audience or for a new book recently released. Guest blogging can also be used to promote a new voice/viewpoint about a specific topic being discussed. Either way, both the borrower of the audience and the lender of said viewers come away with something needed.

For the first time in centuries, writers are taking charge of their own livelihoods in the business. Many independent-thinking writers, who created their own presses, have turned their backs on the major publishing houses. They no longer consider it wrong to go without an agent. These career-oriented writers have changed the face of the industry in the past decade.

Small presses, POD’s and eBooks are making profits harder to come by for the big boys right now.

Future Possibilities

Whether I give information out for free, or I receive such information for free is irrelevant to the overall picture. The reason I can say that is because, in some respects, it’s beginning to look like the industry will soon be owned by the writers themselves.

Blogs and newsletters written by and for writers are created every day. They cover all the genres, and they take no prisoners. Whatever a writer wants to know is out there. Surfing and search engines make it impossible to overlook much that’s available.

When you consider that writers, editors, bloggers, along with magazines are ranking websites, newsletters, etc. on a regular basis, the built-in watchdogs guarantee that a careful user is safer from publishing scams than they used to be.

As encouragement, universities across the country are making free writing courses available by the dozen. Paid courses are also easily found and evaluated as to viability to the particular writer and skill set desired. And if a writer is determined, she can take an MFA degree online, or as a low-residency program from numerous colleges across the nation.

Advertising and promotion is easy to come by. Small, writer-controlled, publishing houses are moving in to entice new writers and secure established ones. A combo house—one which publishes both eBooks and POD simultaneously can take a well-written manuscript and turn it out to the public in a matter of only a few weeks/months instead of one to two years as happens with the big publishers. The lead time depends on the editing necessary for the manuscript and the dedication of the publishing staff.

Many of these same small presses use talented editors, promotion—including trailers and online, and help with marketing after the release of the book.

Building Publishing’s Future

Whether the new face of publishing comes at the expense of the major houses around the world isn’t the question. We should be asking if we want to rid ourselves of those big houses.

Yes, today’s average writer with a big publisher has to create her own marketing plan. That’s now considered part of the proposal package that’s submitted by the writer with the manuscript. That plan must be as broad and potentially profit-generating as one of the publishers’ marketing reps could put together. (At least, that’s how I’ve read one publisher’s guidelines wish list.)

Many readers want to see a recognized brand name on the book jacket, too. If a book isn’t signed, so to speak, by Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, or some other New York publisher, it could be overlooked or rejected by the potential reader as coming from a vanity press. The reputation of vanity presses hasn’t helped self-publishing’s image any in the past.

Recently, POD’s and small presses have pushed those that stroke someone’s vanity into the background. With the advent of eBooks and readers that fit into a pocket, good books are available and very affordable. The convenience and pricing will keep eBooks’ numbers climbing, especially with the downturn in the economy. Many of those book buyers who used to pay $20+ for a hardback book may have moved to where they can get better value for their money.

Today’s economy and personal financial woes could easily revolutionize the current big boys of the industry and force them to embrace those offerings from POD’s and eBooks. In fact, as a result of editors reading eBook offerings already available, the big houses have found new writers, writers that sell. That’s an encouraging sign.

If a person writes well, has a good story to tell, and wants to find an acceptable press, the dream is doable. That’s always been part of the publishing rules. With small presses, the author might not expect to reap as much in potential sales. Then again, there are those who’ve made millions publishing POD’s and eBooks. Marketing makes the difference.

Next time, we’ll dive into marketing. Tell me how you see today’s writing environment and the shifting sands of writers’ lives.

  1. March 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks!

    • claudsy
      March 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm


  2. March 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

    It’s scary for someone like me who just wants to write and doesn’t like the whole other side of the coin… as in, what would I have to do to get it out there once it’s finished. *gulp* There’s a guy who wrote a book on being an introvert who said the seven years it took him to write the book were the best years of his life, but the two years following, with self promotion and all that entails, were the worst. 😉 That would be me!

    • claudsy
      March 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

      I do know what you mean, Carrie. Although, as with all things in this life, each pleasure has a down side. The pleasure of writing is increased with knowing that someone else has read your work and enjoyed it or gained something from it. The downside is knowing and doing all of those tasks that make it possible to have it in the hands of the public.

      You’re right. It is a coin. I guess it’s the one we flip each day to decide our task for the day–write or market, promote or write more. It never ends.

      So glad to hear from you. Take care and God bless.


  3. claudsy
    March 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the pingback, Robert. I agree with what you’re saying here. Readers aren’t as discriminating as they once were, bless their hearts. Unfortunately, when the standards of the reader fall, the publishing business moves with it, in order to have a product to sell.

    That seems to be today’s reality. We may not like it, but I can’t see it changing back in the foreseeable future. With the influence of technology and its way of communications, the shifting sands of a reader’s cornucopia will continue to dictate the style and standards of literature.


  1. March 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

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