In the 'olden days', one got published by sheer effort, determination and repetition. You had to hone your craft. Actually, I guess things haven't changed that much, but it is still a different world. Look at the 'masters', such as Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. We have commented among ourselves that while these men have done great works of art, they would never have been published today, at least with the guidelines that we as writers have been given.
And while we struggle with getting our writing to the point that someone in a publishing house would notice it, publishing itself is struggling. There are large publishing houses that publish hundreds of books a year, but are receiving thousands of manuscripts. There are small publishing houses that try to serve the writer well, and struggle with the business, and end up failing. In many ways, these small, independent publishers cannot compete with the big houses.
Then we have publishers joining forces, becoming even bigger. Imagine how the little people feel in the days of transition..."which house do we represent?" Let alone the authors that had previously published with them.
The publishing world is even more difficult today than it was back when. Sales are everything. If a book doesn't sell, they aren't going to wait another month and see if it was a freak of nature -- they will dump it and the author and go with one that is selling. All of the business comes down to the bottom line. Every time I see the movie You've Got Mail, I feel sad. The world looses something each time one of those little family businesses closes shop.
As authors, we decided to try and take things into our own hands...we started what is called Vanity Press. However, with the onset of the internet, that market became a whole new nitch. Publishing your own work can be very rewarding. You can take credit for everything (even when it's bad...grin) and you get most the profit. On the other hand, you have to do everything that a large publisher would do for you. You have to become the marketing expert and talk about your book to everyone. We've talked about marketing in past blogs, it's not a new subject.
But it seems that just when we think our little corner of the world will be calm for a bit, we get another jolt, and things feel unstable again. A trusted friend is let down, a seemingly solid publisher shakes the foundations a little and we are back to wondering why we are in this business in the first place.
Many of us are here because we are driven to write. It's not always an easy passion, ask anyone in our families. It's definitely not always fun, especially when we are doing the rewrites, grammar and spell checks that make the manuscript ready to go. Sending that manuscript out into the world takes a whole 'nother set of guts, because we don't know if it's ever going to come back with a positive note.
Our world takes a lot of faith. We know there is a reason for what we're doing, especially as Latter-day Saints. All we can do is continue working, continue striving and hope that eventually, good will win out -- right will over come, and our words will be in print.
It's easy to become a Doubting Thomas in today's world, but if we want to succeed, it takes every bit of faith we've got. I think it can be done. As part of an amazing group of writers in Authors Incognito, I find comfort knowing they are there to support, cheer and encourage everyone. As long as there are groups like this, people who continue to write, things will continue to move forward.
The pen is mightier than the sword.