Friday, August 31, 2012

The New Publishing Paradigm for Fiction Writers

Not too long ago, I was interviewed by Stephanie Gunning on a special webinar, "The New Publishing Paradigm." I've received many requests for the audio or transcripts. The entire program content is too long for a newsletter, but here are a few of the Q&A exchanges we covered.
How does the new publishing paradigm affect fiction authors specifically?  The types of fiction being written are dramatically different today....absolutely an outgrowth of the social society.  Years ago literary fiction reigned supreme and theme of "what is the purpose of life" was pretty much present in every novel. Think back to your high school classes (or maybe freshman English in college). The major authors were Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and the existentialists such as Sartre, Camus, Beckett and so on. Also popular were themes of the absurd... plays such as No Exit, Waiting for Godot, and books by fiction authors such as Saul Bellows and Joseph Heller. Even the classic "coming of age" stories...Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, I know why the Caged Bird Sings ...were full of metaphors and deeper meanings to uncover in the plot. 
Flash forward to the year 2000 until now.... Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray, The Hunger Games, DaVinci Code, and any number of the crime/mystery/adventure/scifi/fantasy fiction series that are so popular. These are all plot-driven stories, and many have good characterization, but there's little substance once the stories are over. You'd be hard pressed to find serious statements about human nature underlying the plot. Not to say that's true for everything coming out today, because there still is good literary fiction. But popular fiction is the big seller in today's market, and I think that's a reflection of our high-tech society with extreme attention deficit disorder. I don't mean that in a bad way, just an observation.
This big change came at the same time, and is partly due to the technology roll out. So, not only was it easier to an author to get a book out in print or as an ebook, it was easier to communicate with the readers due to the social networks, and the combination of availability of access to readers and the indie author's ability to publish directly to that reader changed the face of publishing. 
Which is better to self-publish first: a print book or ebook?  No right or wrong or better, really. Depends on the author's goals and budget. It's easier, faster, and cheaper to do a digital edition first, no doubt about it. Many authors do both, one first, then the other...but some put their books out simultaneously in print and ebook form. I think for a newbie, doing an ebook is better, in the sense that it's easier, faster and cheaper. Thus mistakes are more easily corrected. But, both formats require certain things to be successful: a good story, good editing and good book cover and interior design.
I'll be posting more questions and answers from the interview in future blog posts. Follow this blog by email (use the subscription box in righthand column) so you don't miss any!

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