Best selling author James Patterson took out an ad in Publisher’s Weekly suggesting that the government “do something” about the decline in the traditional publishing industry. Specifically, he mentioned the decline in bookstores and libraries, but he also suggested the major publishers needed some kind of government help to maintain their monopoly over what we read. Not so! There are more publishers today than ever before, and many of us who have published our own material are learning streamlined new ways to get our words out, and entrepreneurs are rushing to find ways to help us flank the big boys. No longer can an editor in New York decide which dozen authors will publish thriller fiction, and which 50 will publish romance fiction, and which handful will get the chance to be read in literary fiction. Today, it’s a stampede.
Here’s where I think it’s going to go. Instead of wannabe authors wasting years submitting to agents who won’t even read their query letters, they will publish. It isn’t that hard. Avid readers eager to find something good are wading through the mass of new fiction and publishing reviews in hundreds of weblogs. Some readers are reviewing more than one book a day. It’s easy to flip through a book on a Kindle or Nook reader, and independent fiction is dirt cheap; 99 cents. A lot of it is given away. Much of that new fiction is terrible, but voices are emerging out of all that chaos; new voices. E.L. James self published her Fifty Shades of Gray and managed to sell 50,000 books. One of the big publishers picked her up under contract and she sold millions. That’s happening a lot now.
The adventurous reader will scan the book review blogs looking for something fresh and new, or that certain formula they want, and find the independent. The reader wanting a guarantee will seek out the name brand. There will be more writers, more books, more variety, more voices. Now about libraries and book stores; people are reading in coffee shops, on the bus, walking down the street, WHILE DRIVING CARS! How can you say people aren’t reading? Libraries are going to have to re-think what they offer, or people aren’t going to come in; they don’t need to.