Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Future of Publishing

I read a blog post by Mark Tavani, Senior Editor at Random House today, and I was interested in his take on the current state of the industry, and also on the comments offered by other blog readers who got there before me.

Tavani suggests that the current shake-up has been caused by the build-up of past events, not necessarily by the current state of the economy. I agree with him completely, but then I don't even think the current economic was caused during the past 8 years alone. Events this big don't happen overnight, or even over the course of a decade. It takes a lot of screwing up over a very long period of time to create a mess this big, and we're being very short-sighted to try laying the blame for it at the door of any one administration.

I'm not saying the previous administration made it any better, I'm just saying they don't hold exclusive rights to the blame. But I digress ... Publishing.

Tavani also suggests that the current state of publishing might actually, eventually, in the long-run, produce positive results. I agree with this, too. Our society hasn't yet learned the art of hitting a happy medium and staying there. That's okay. Other societies have been exactly the same way, so it's just human nature. Society functions with huge pendulum swings, from one extreme to the other, passing through that happy, workable medium area for about five minutes once every century or so. Industry functions the way society does. We continually say, "if a little bit is good, a lot will be even better," and off we race to produce millions of the thing that was good, or new, or fresh, or innovative, or unique because God forbid we should allow anything to remain good, new, fresh, innovative and unique. If somebody is making money off it, we all have to chase after a piece of the pie -- present company excluded, of course. I would never suggest that anyone with the good sense to read my blog would be so crass.

So what do you think? Will the publishing industry survive today's economy combined with choices made years ago? Will books as we know them today cease to exist and be replaced by something else? I don't know about that one. I hope books as we know them never disappear. I love the feel of a book in my hands. It pleases me in a way no computer screen ever has.

I love the sound of pages turning, and I don't believe anyone could produce a satisfying electronic sound to take its place. I love bookmarks with beautiful pictures or thought-provoking quotes on them. Electronic bookmarks don't even come close. I love the smell of a book. I don't know about yours, but my computer does not have a pleasant smell. For as long as I've had a career as an author -- more than 15 years now -- people have been predicting the demise of the paper and leather book and the rise of the electronic one. I have yet to see anything that leads me to believe in either extreme.

Sure, electronic book sales are on the rise, but we're heading into our second decade of the soon-to-hit electronic book tsunami prediction, with little more than a few waves lapping on the shore. Some of my own books are produced in electronic format these days, and I think it's great. Frankly, I don't care what medium a person chooses for the stories s/he reads, as long as s/he's reading. I'd like to see us stop quibbling about the unimportant things that will have relatively little important impact on society and start focusing on the things that will actually make a difference -- like teaching our kids to love stories in whatever format they find most pleasant. Educated kids with broad vocabularies and vivid imaginations are our best hope for a bright future.

The Selling Synopsis

February 2 - 27, 2009
Registration Fee: $40 (includes critique)
For more information, or to register, go to DancingOnCoals
THE SELLING SYNOPSIS: A synopsis is one of the most valuable tools in your writer’s toolbox, but to write a successful one, we need to shift gears and forget almost everything we've learned about writing a great novel. Learn how to show editors and agents that you can put together a compelling story filled with sympathetic characters. That you understand motivation and know how to work with and layer conflict.
In this workshop you'll learn:
  • How to format your synopsis
  • How to decide what to include and what to leave out
  • How to write a functional query letter
  • How to establish conflict
  • How to present motivation
  • How to pace your synopsis to keep the editor hooked
  • Thursday, January 08, 2009

    Thirteen Random Things from My Week

    1. My oldest daughter went downstairs for something the other night and discovered that the sewer was backing up into our basement. 2. We discovered the sewer issue at about 7:00 in the evening. The plumber left at 2:30 in the morning. 3. While the plumber was here, he asked my daughter to fill the washer with water and then drain it so he could see if the drains were working again. While the washing machine was trying to pump out the water, it began smoking. Badly. 4. The fix for the washer we hoped would be minor isn't, so it's new washer time for me! I could give you 13 reasons why this is very bad news, but I won't bore you. 5. I learned that my oldest niece, who is pregnant with her fourth baby, is having another boy, leaving Miss Jade as the only girl in the family. Sorry, Jade. 6. I learned that my youngest niece is pregnant with her first baby. I'm very excited for her because this is something she's wanted for a very long time. 7. My granddaughter, who is still in diapers, and who woke up before her mother this morning, decided to paint her bedroom. Three guesses what she used for paint. 8. I popped a bagel into the toaster yesterday, only to discover that the toaster doesn't work anymore. It still doesn't work this morning. 9. I'm not even going to talk about the mold we found growing on the basement walls, but I will mention that apparently our neighbor spent several weeks in the hospital with pneumonia thanks to mold growing in her house, and another set of neighbors moved out of the house on the other side when they discovered mold. 10. I'm going to RWA's national conference in July. This year, the conference will be held in Washington DC, and I'm excited since I've never been there before. 11. I've been invited to teach at the Low Country Romance Writers Jumpstart Master Class in 2010, and I'm very excited. It looks like it should be a fabulous experience. 12. I finished judging 2 writing contest entries sitting on my desk and hard drive. Each one took over two hours by the time I'd read and commented on the manuscript and filled out the judges' score sheet. 13. Finished chapter one of my new work in progress, a paranormal mystery. 13 1/2 ... I tried going to the Thursday Thirteen site to post that my post was up .... and it's gone Confused