Monday, October 24, 2011
The Adjustable Publishing Dream
I've been watching publishing discussions with interest of late.
It's just as educational to watch human reactions to change as it is to watch the change itself.
Some people describe the change in the publishing industry as a total positive, others condemn it as an absolute negative.
I'd like to propose something for your consideration: the changes themselves are neither positive nor negative. So when someone says "paperback sales are down 64%" or "free e-books are creating a devaluing effect on the book market," those statements are neither positive nor negative.
They simply ARE. This is the situation in the book world. But, as with most events in life, what makes them positive or negative is how we react to them.
If we hold so tightly to our own vision of how things are "supposed" to be, then change may seem negative.
We must keep our dreams adjustable, give them elastic waistbands and big hems, make them of reversible material so we can turn them inside out and still wear them. We don't have to abandon our dreams-- we just have to refashion them for the time in which we live.
You may think this is easy for me to say, as an author who landed a professional contract under the "old" system with a traditional publisher--a system which may or may not look the same in five years time.
But let's say I hadn't landed that contract. What would I have done, if no publisher had been interested in my series?
I would have been crushed, at first. Then, I would have picked myself up and self-published my series, after hiring the best editor and cover designer I could afford. I would then have gone to Ohio to market it to the regional audience there.
In other words, I would have done something very similar to what I have been doing for the last year. But I would have done it on my own schedule, without deadlines, which would have meant more time for marketing that first novel, particularly for connecting with the crucial regional market for my series based on Ohio history.
I have no regrets about the path I did take--I'm very blessed and grateful to have been able to work with the experts in editing and design at Thomas Nelson, and to have the financial support of a traditional contract. But traditional publishing is no longer the only way for an author to fulfill her dream, especially with the seismic changes occurring in the publishing world.
I'm telling you this because I want to encourage you. If you don't have a contract yet with a traditional publisher, if you don't have an agent, don't see the changes in publishing as a negative. They aren't. They're just changes. Keeping your dreams adjustable is the key to realizing them. We all need to understand that success in publishing may look different in only a few years. Let's be excited about it! When someone says paperback sales are down but e-book sales are up, let's enjoy the feeling of living in a time when anything might happen, when authors may find more autonomy in their work, when we have the opportunity to interact in unprecedented ways with readers.
I keep my own dreams adjustable. I do my absolute best to write good novels and to publicize them as best I can with the time available. But in the end, I don't have control over my novels' future. Only God does. And I'm completely at peace with that. Because whatever is in store for me, whether it looks like success or failure to the outside observer, I know beyond a doubt that it's going to work out for my good. I have that promise, and so do you.