Wednesday 16 December 2009

A Golden Age for Writers

Stephen Covey has shown us what the future might hold for writers.

If there is one thing that everyone in the publishing world can agree on amidst the current chaos, it is that everything is about to change. Insecurity is all around us as the big players all try to work out how the business is going to develop; are e-books finally going to take over the world? Will Kindles and the rest soon be as ubiquitous as mobile phones and laptops? And, if so, who the hell owns the rights to what?

As all the big corporations rush to their lawyers, it may be that this is about to become a golden age for those of us who have remained hungry and nimble and are used to living by our wits.

It is beginning to look as if in the long run none of these changes should trouble writers too much. We are used to insecurity. We are used to never knowing if we are going to be able to sell our work. We are used to not knowing how much we will be paid for it or when that money will ever actually arrive. We have never had regular salaries or pensions or subsidised canteens to lull us into a false sense of security. We have always known just how much of a jungle it is out there.

We have always been forced to accept that we have little or no control over our careers or our work, that we have to write as much and as well as we can and then basically hope for the best. We are used to being promised the Earth and then somehow not quite getting it.

We are also familiar with the exhilaration of a sudden triumph; a book that tops the charts, sells all over the world, creates a buzz and brings unexpected amounts of money pouring in. We know that those moments, and the dreams we have of those moments, make all the struggles and uncertainties worthwhile.

In this new age of e-books, self-publishing and print-on-demand, it is beginning to look as if we won’t necessarily have to rely on the patronage of publishers to help us reach our readers.

The writing life will still be a struggle, as it has always been, but it may just be that we are going to have more control over our destinies in the coming years than we have ever had in the past. It is possible that we will soon be actively choosing who we want to hire to edit us, design our covers and help us to market our wares.

Is it possible that we are about to enter a Golden Age for writers?


Pauline Rowson said...

An excellent article, Andrew, as always. Well said.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article Andrew!

I agree, it's only a matter of time before the publishing industry is turned
on its head. It is as natural as the digital journey taken by the music industry.
Why should the publishing arena be any different?

I think it is a positive move not just because it gives the true creator the majority
of the profit from their work but also because it gives countless more people the opportunity to
share their work with the world. And it’s a world where previously they would not have
had a chance of getting through the extremely restricted publishing and distribution channels.

Amazon will of course be a natural move to many, given their hold on the marketplace.
But the offers from new players in digital publishing seek to propose even more gain
to the original artist - like the newly launched e-commerce platform from on Thursday.
They are offering 100% of the profit to authors for the first three months before only taking 10% of all transactions!

If that isn't turning publishing on its head for the better, then please, do tell me what is!

Claire O'Connell

Anonymous said...

Andrew, this blog post cheered me up. I seem to be the only one trying to get my book out there. I have already taken charge of my own PR and book cover design, so who knows what is next.