Opinions about the future of publishing proliferated, but the common theme at Nationals this year was that we are at an exciting juncture.
I attended a number of agent and editor panels, including the one held at the PAN, Published Authors Network, retreat. While things got heated in one instance as an agent took issue with an editor, the publishing professionals agreed that the outlook is positive.
I heard comparisons to the days when book sales took off with the advent of the big-box booksellers like B. Dalton and Waldenbooks in the 70s. The pros said an increasing number of young people are reading, which is a strong indication that books are not on the way out.
Writers have more options than ever as we seek to get our books into readers’ hands. With the recent surge in self-publishing, small e-book presses, and traditional houses launching digital lines, a writer no longer needs to wait for an elusive print contract.
Things at the traditional publishers are in flux. An emerging trend is to publish debut authors digitally before the houses decide whether or not to offer them future print contracts based on the sales of their e-books.
While the consensus is that publishing is doing well, opinions about the avenues available to authors varied greatly. Summing it up, agents are adamant about protecting the rights of authors while publishers are seeking creative and profitable ways to adapt to the flood of new authors putting out books.
I sat in some workshops where the presenters emphatically stated that they would not be addressing the self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate. Others shared their opinions freely, most doing so with admirable tact. Depending on which vantage point the presenter came from, the opinions varied.
One thing, however, remained constant. No matter how or where a book is published say the pros, quality content is crucial. Readers might be willing to try an e-book when it’s a low price, but if they encounter poorly written stories filled with formatting issues or mistakes indicating a lack of editing, they’re likely to return to books they know will deliver the fictive experience they desire.
On Monday I’ll share snippets I gleaned about the craft of writing.
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Do you agree with the pros and think the publishing world is poised to embrace the changes and move into an exciting new chapter? Why, or why not?