Will Publishing Market Glut Scuttle Your Writing Career



Will Publishing Market Glut Scuttle Your Writing Career

A post by Cindy Dees, ‘The Publishing Market Glut and What it Means for You’ appeared on my Face book page.

Cindy Dees’ post

It was a thought provoking read so I decided to do some further research in an attempt to clarify my own thoughts on the matter because I was very aware I was sitting on the fence.

I was a little taken back by the volume and ferocity of the debate between believers of self publishing and those who think only traditionally published books are worth the read. Self- publishers vigorously defend their right to publish what they want, when and how they want and those sitting on the other side of the fence say these author – publishers are destroying the chance we all have of getting noticed and making sales that ultimately lead to a living.

As I read I asked the question: what does it mean for me, a relatively new author who has one foot in each camp. Is there actually a glut of books on the market and could it scuttle my chances of making a living as a writer?

Will I have to promote and market my books ever more aggressively to make them noticeable in the crowd? Is yelling more loudly through social media the answer? Will I even be heard?

The market is now huge and Cindy Dees quotes figures of 450,000 + e books are self published and 300,000+ self published print books were released in 2014. I am totally gob smacked at the size of the figures. That is a lot of books. I don’t doubt the accuracy because I see thousands on twitter every day selling their wares. I have been trying to read a few each month as a writer supporting other writers and have found it is a bit like a lucky dip: with the beautifully written, the mediocre and the downright unreadable.

Previously I believed to self publish was only vanity – if the manuscript wasn’t good enough for a traditional publisher then it shouldn’t be published. But I have learnt a few things in the last 12 months. Firstly being bitten by a publisher going broke and then trying to get new publishers for my books and ending up with a drawer full of rejections for 3 out of the 5 manuscripts has made me re-think my options. I know my stories are good stories so self-publishing is looking a good option.

It wasn’t all bad though because I got to work with several brilliant editors learning so much about editing, improving my writing skills and discovering my own little faults. It was an experience for free that would have been a significant cost otherwise.

If you are considering the self publishing path get a professional editor, the best you can afford. Don’t let yourself down by putting up a half assed book, or publishing a story with great potential if only it had a good edit. This stands regardless of whether you self publish or go the road of traditional publishing.

Closer to home I also work with a group of women who have published – 3 of us by large traditional publisher and smaller independent publishers and 3 more who have self published. It has been an eye opening experience.

I have read each of these books with varying degrees of enjoyment and recently had an interesting discussion with one of these women. She is self published and currently facilitates other writers to get their books up and published believing strongly that as long as a writer does their best it is okay to publish.

I am not so sure and remain a little concerned self-publishing authors are short changing themselves and their readers by publishing stuff that is unpolished, not edited, lacking in finesse or perhaps even having chunky gaps in the plot which leaves the reader wanting more and unable to fulfill need.

Within this group there are also those who believe that a book should never be published unless it is perfect – grammar, punctuation, plot, characters and all that, but even traditional publishers have produced books that fail to make the grade in these areas. Many a brilliant story remains unpublished because of financial restraints of the big publishers and the misguided opinion of an editor – JK Rowling and Bryce Courtney’s first books for instance.

I consider myself a professional writer and I am willing and able to make the hard decisions to edit, cut, re-write, quash completely, polish, polish and polish. To craft my words to say as passionately and as succinctly as possible what I want to convey and to provide the maximum enjoyment for my reader. Reader enjoyment should be the goal for all.

I think the pendulum in favor of self publishing has swung high but that it will swing back again as our readers – they are discerning people after all – start to look for writers who produce quality work, who have credentials, who are not one book wonders.

As Cindy Dees says ‘Readers are going to be looking for clues of who the “real” writers are and who the pretenders are. In the matter of supply and demand our readers will demand a higher quality story.

And from Chuck Wendig’s post, “Slushy Glut Slog: Why Self-Publishing Shit Volcano is a Problem”

Wendig’s post

As authors we want the absolute freedom to publish what we want. We have that, and nobody wants to see that go away. But readers — readers want the freedom to buy books that meet a professional standard, stories offered that contain passion and power but that are also presented by someone who treats publishing as a business decision and not an amateurish, artistic one. It pays to surround ourselves with those who will check us and our work and who will help ensure that what reaches the readers is the very best we can produce.

And I think that is it. We must, as writers, respect, not only our readers, but ourselves and our creative efforts by producing the best books we can. To be aware that our best may not always be up to the standard that is able to be appreciated by readers and work to improve.

I think if we become, and remain, aware of this, and always demand higher quality the noise of bad books will fade gradually to a low hum through ‘natural selection’. The reader might buy one book, but if it is shit they will refuse to buy any more. For those of us who are ‘real’ writers – it might take time, but we will rise to the top, above the flotsam and jetsam, to be easily identified as worthy of a read.

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