Publishing industry changes . . .
There is no doubt that the publishing industry is changing. The best agent blogs in the business are constantly indicating this. Writers forums too are saying the same thing: the industry is tightening up, its developing to become fully competitive in a digital age. Its squaring up to fight e-books, POD, self-publishing and whatever else will be thrown at it as technology leaps ahead with the speed of light.
As a writer and one who has trodden the POD path through the publishing agency of YouWriteOn.com, the thing that I have noticed over the years that I have been writing and submitting is that the demands placed on the writer are now enormous. Once upon a time, it was enought that one had a good story. If the story was deemed sell-able and the house signed that person, then the editors would just move in, do what they had to do to coach the manuscript to publishing point and all would be well. I even know of an Australian wing of a global publishing house who sent an editor to live-in with the fiction writer so that her work could be groomed to the required level.
Gone are the days.
I have my work assessed by a literary consultancy in the UK and this time I have noticed a big change. This time I am required to have more than the good, commercially viable story. This time I must be word and letter perfect, punctuation perfect . . . let’s face it copy-edit, line-edit perfect, and all before submission/querying to an agent/publisher. That’s how tough the industry has become.
I am not decrying such a system. In the world of commercial success, every publishing house must offer the best if they are to succeed in a dog-eat-dog world. What does concern me though, is that despite all the work we new writers may put in, paying for assessments, line-edits and whatever else may be required, there is still dross on the shelves in the bookshops that is being released in a steady stream. Not only that, there are edit mistakes inside these tomes.
I wish I wasn’t a writer sometimes because I tend to read critically now whereas once I read with unadulterated pleasure. These days there always seems to be a metaphorical red pen handy. And I loathe it because it means that others must read my own books in the same way.
But it’s probably why I go back to the classic favourites so often: Austen, the Brontes, Sei Shonagon and the more contemporary classics of Dorothy Dunnett, Mary Stewart, Tolkein . . . an eclectic but very elegant group who don’t require metaphorical red pens and whom I can trust.
What does occur to me is that in the run to make money, to tackle the digital world head on, we are losing sight of something. In my foggy state after completing a 1500 word target for today, I haven’t a clue what it is we have lost sight of. But it lurks like a stain on laundry and when I discover what it is, rest assured I shall let you know.