Monday, February 15, 2010

As overstressed publishers focus more on established talent, what are new writers to do?

Stressed by the disintermediating effect of the web, many publishers have all they can do just to hang on. As a result, most are doing less and less for new and midlist writers, while focusing more of their promotional efforts on their best-selling authors. It's tough for new writers trying to develop an audience. Even if they published, who's going to promote their work? Novelist Marie Mockett, who published her first novel last fall, comments on what this means for emerging literary talent in her blog (Via Moonrat).
Not long ago, Nielsen announced that Kirkus, one of four trade reviewers of books (which charged a fee, mind you), was closing. Ron Charles, the Washington Post Fiction editor, lamented via his Twitter feed: “Everytime we lose 1 of these rare independent voices we grow more dependent on publicists, authors' parents/ friends clogging blogs w praise.” Well, yes, that’s right. That is what will happen—and it is what is happening. It is, in fact, what has helped me with my book—the collection of readers and mothers and writers who are looking for something new. As far as I’m concerned, the bloggy-internet-online-bookclub-nightmare of publishers and editors can’t happen fast enough. As a reader, I don’t need to read reviews of the same writers over and over and over again. Yes, I understand that there is a hierarchy, that Margaret Atwood has been at this much longer than I have, and that she deserves my deference. I don’t believe, however, that I’m not supposed to have a career at all. New writers, after all, are the lifeblood of this profession that we are supposed to care about so much. I say we level the playing field sooner, rather than later.
As bookstores start to go the way of record stores, new writers will be more and more responsible for promoting their own work -- the same situation that faced musicians earlier. For some writers this will be an opportunity. For others, not so much. After all, musicians are by nature performers. Most writers are not.

1 comment:

Suzan Harden said...

Writer are performers. We simply perform in a different venue than a stage.

I think the internet actually helps us introverts reach out in a new and different way, thereby helping us promote through our strengths.

'Cause let's face it--most of us would be terrified of traditional face-to-face selling.