The Wall Between Writers and Readers

Why does it feel like publishers are no longer in the business of connecting writers and readers?

I’ve read nearly my entire life. There’s a section of my monthly budget devoted to books, and I’ve memorized my library card number for when that budget is used up. I’m pretty sure that if I located every book I owned and put them in the same room, I’d have quite the nice little library going. I’ve either bought or been gifted with many books. But my reading budget is feeling the pinch of the recession (still), and my shelves are filled to capacity.

I’ve written since middle school. Most of my work has been lost to time and under the bed monsters. What has survived needs a lot of work before I can even think about whether or not I’m brave enough to publish it. Or attempt to publish it. You see, I read writers’ and agents’ blogs, and I know that it’s getting more and more competitive to publish books.

I’ve considered self-publishing, as that seems to be slowly becoming a more viable way to publish. You write. You edit. You find a critique group or hire an editor to help you polish your book to make it the best possible book you’re capable of producing at that moment. You build up your platform and/or an internet following, and when the book is published, you handle most of the marketing. It’s a lot of work, but for the right books I think it would be worth it.

Except what I’ve just described is what nearly every traditionally published author goes through while creating and publishing their books. The only thing that’s changed is that the person who’s decided to shoulder the risk is me rather than a publisher.

I don’t read blogs by many on the publishing side, but I seem to read a lot of articles from the publishing side anyway. I read about the struggles between traditional and electronic books. There’s some concern that the publishing companies aren’t keeping up with new technologies and the new ways people want to experience their media. There’s concern that they’re hanging their hopes on nothing but blockbusters.

And then there’s the pricing situation. We as readers have become so used to given pricing for hardcover and paperback books that establishing a fair price for e-books has become its own nightmare. The articles keep saying how publishers have to factor in their costs, which makes sense. But somehow, their figures only rarely account for reduced need for paper and storage (although I did read one this morning where the publishing house has realized they can actually pay the author a greater royalty on an e-book). And they’re factoring in their marketing efforts, which any writer and agent will tell you is primarily done by the writer these days.

The landscape is changing. It’s interesting to see as a reader, a writer, and someone who makes a half-hearted attempt to keep up on the publishing industry how the publishing industry is responding to these changes, and how it affects those who read and those who write- the two groups the publishing industry is supposed to be connecting.

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