PDA

View Full Version : Problems faced by publishing



rainsmom
05-09-2012, 01:34 AM
Interesting analysis of the problems facing the publishing industry spurred by Maurice Sendak's opinion that ebooks are "shit."

http://mysteriousmatters.typepad.com/mysterious_matters_myster/2012/05/the-biggest-challenges.html

Opinions?

GregB
05-09-2012, 03:48 AM
I think it's borderline incoherent as an argument. Specifically, if the problem is too few manuscripts that are worth selling, why does it matter how much shit there is? The claim that "my gem goes unnoticed because of all the crap surrounding it" is a time-honored tradition among the disillusioned, but I've never found it particularly convincing. Especially now, when we've gotten pretty good at hiding the crap in a dark, dusty corner where no one sees it.

#5 has merit, but it goes for all the free media out there, from journalism to fiction to games and everything in between. Maybe they're just not that in to you? And again, if you're so good at picking stuff that will sell -- the problem being that you so rarely can find it -- this shouldn't concern you much.

Finally, a post on "challenges" that points fingers in every direction except the commercial publishing industry itself is...incomplete.

SomethingOrOther
05-09-2012, 04:21 AM
THE CAPITALIZATION OF THOSE FIVE EDITORIALIZED SENTENCES. Read in my mind as random screaming from some guy with a torch and pitchfork.

leahzero
05-09-2012, 04:21 AM
Maybe because it's not an argument, but a series of observations.

I completely agree with the blogger's underlying point that the bar for literature has been lowered and lowered until Amazon (and Apple, et al) finally came along and snapped it in half.

Now everyone and anyone can "publish" and the sluice gates are wide open. And most of what we're being flooded with is the crap that had been mercifully held back.

I think this blogger is conveniently overlooking the publishing industry's role in this mess, though. They're just as guilty as the egomaniacal hacks with more money (or schmoozing skill) than talent. This person buys mediocre yet salable manuscripts while rejecting true art, because big publishers are in the business of making money, not fostering art. Self-publishers didn't start the commodification of books--they're just capitalizing on it. The reason there are too many books being published and yet too few great manuscripts coming down the pipe is because the publishing industry is just that--an industry, struggling to generate profit in a free market system.

If this person worked for a small indie press with cachet I'd be more sympathetic, but as far as I'm concerned this is kind of like a rat whining about the cockroach problem. I mean, yeah, their points are on the mark--but so are some of the SP zealots' points about the shittiness of trad pub.

I do find it kind of amusing that the idea of writers just wanting to be read seems so strange to this blogger:


Many writers, it seems, care only about having an adoring reading public. If that means they have to pay their own money to get published, and then give their work away in the hopes that by some miracle they'll end up on the best-seller list, then so be it.The "pay[ing] their own money to get published" bit is, of course, troubling...but is it really so bizarre that most writers write for the joy of being read?

thothguard51
05-09-2012, 05:00 AM
Five years ago, I ranted about self publishing killing the industry I wanted to be a part of, a commercially published writer. But even without self publishing, there was no guarantee I was good enough to publish.

Fast forward several years and I still am not sure I am good enough and while I have contemplated going self published for various reasons, I am still not convinced this is what I want.

In the meantime, I will keep refining and editing my work and learning how to be a better writer.

Old Hack
05-09-2012, 10:42 AM
I didn't read much of the linked-to blog post but I note that its author uses the terms "vanity publishing", "self publishing", and "e-publishing" as if they were all interchangeable. They're not.

Why should I be interested in the opinions of someone who doesn't know what they're talking about?

sunandshadow
05-09-2012, 11:40 AM
Interesting analysis of the problems facing the publishing industry spurred by Maurice Sendak's opinion that ebooks are "shit."

http://mysteriousmatters.typepad.com/mysterious_matters_myster/2012/05/the-biggest-challenges.html

Opinions?
Wow, what an egotistic viewpoint. It doesn't occur to him that readers might think the downfall of big publishing and the rise of do-it-yourself publishing would be in their own best interests.

fireluxlou
05-09-2012, 11:57 AM
A lot of that rant in that blog post reminds me of the kids in school who thought they were way above and too cool for pop music so hey didn't listen to anything after 1975. Sounds like a lot of misdirected wasted anger at people who want to write and publish their own books.

Plus the person uses words like self-publishing and vanity publishing interchangeably and doesn't seem to know what they mean. They seem bitter about others successes in the industry via these methods.

Libbie
05-09-2012, 12:16 PM
Interesting analysis of the problems facing the publishing industry spurred by Maurice Sendak's opinion that ebooks are "shit."

http://mysteriousmatters.typepad.com/mysterious_matters_myster/2012/05/the-biggest-challenges.html

Opinions?

I would tend to agree with GregB that as an argument it's not terribly coherent, but I understand and 100% sympathize with the sentiment behind it. And I say that as a person who has self-published a book using the services described. I will assume that I am in the 1% of not-shit, based on the response my book is getting from readers. But I self-published it as an experiment anyway, so however the chips fall is good with me.

I tend to agree with him that the ease of self-publishing has only made it easier for impatient, ignorant people to jump into "publishing," and that the book world is now way too bogged down with crap. However, Goodreads is helping readers sort through the crap. I happen to think that Goodreads might be the best thing on the internet. Even better than Diabeetus Cat.

And as a reader, I do not think the rise of self-publishing is a good thing. Not at all. I do think at least a minor downfall of big publishing and a big fat surge of small presses (with good business plans and a clear vision) would be a great thing for the industry and for readers. And for authors.

Nor do I think the blog writer is just jealous of the success of the self-published. Quick. Name five contemporary self-published authors who found anything that might be called "success." You can name just one. Out of how many people who've self-published? Come on. He/she isn't jealous of anybody. There's nothing to be jealous of.

Libbie
05-09-2012, 12:21 PM
I think this blogger is conveniently overlooking the publishing industry's role in this mess, though. They're just as guilty as the egomaniacal hacks with more money (or schmoozing skill) than talent. This person buys mediocre yet salable manuscripts while rejecting true art, because big publishers are in the business of making money, not fostering art. Self-publishers didn't start the commodification of books--they're just capitalizing on it. The reason there are too many books being published and yet too few great manuscripts coming down the pipe is because the publishing industry is just that--an industry, struggling to generate profit in a free market system.



Q!

F!

T!

aikigypsy
05-09-2012, 09:12 PM
"Too many books are being published" and "the lack of good manuscripts" go together. It's hard to find good books. We all want to write good books, great books, even, but most of the time we fall short of this goal, and it's awfully hard for a writer to judge his or her own work.

The core problem is for readers to find the books they will enjoy most. Having a lot of books out there makes this a little harder, but the feedback and reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. make it easier. It probably balances out.

As for #5, "interchangeable" and "not worth spending a lot of money on" are two separate issues. No, I don't think they're interchangeable in most people's minds, at all, but people have gotten used to getting content -- music, videos, and now e-books -- for free or near-free.

Amadan
05-09-2012, 09:29 PM
I'm also in the "Not very coherent and uses very sloppy wording, but the basic message is sound" camp.

Not everyone who wants to be a writer can be or should be, but the bar to entry is so low now, and the message that no one should be denied their heart's desire for lack of little things like talent or discipline or determination is so pervasive, the flood has probably not yet hit its peak.

worldwriter
05-10-2012, 09:31 PM
I didn't read the full post, yet there's no question that traditional publishing is evolving and changing—for good. It's time to stop talking and start embracing that change.

Books, good books aren't going away. Paper is. Good music didn't disappear. Most vinyl did. Those shiny discs are on life support. Change is good.

Authors, even good authors will need to find audiences and make it easy for audiences to find them. Some will get help and support with this, but most will need to be more proactive. This is another reality —*and a challenge for all of us. And this challenge is a huge opportunity.

Old Hack
05-10-2012, 10:00 PM
That publishing is changing is not new. Publishing has always changed. Publishing adapts.

Fins Left
05-10-2012, 10:42 PM
How can this blog not be a satire of some sort? Too many books are being published? The prices are too low or, heaven forbid, they're free! Amazon is out to kill the publishing houses -- when those publishing houses sell through Amazon? I think paperbacks were accused of the same thing when they came out. Why no railing against HQ who sells paperbacks for $3.99?

The fact is that consumers and artists now have different avenues to find each other. Publishing houses can adapt or die. That is the way the free market works.