Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reasons to Be Thankful

Book publishers focus promotion dollars more and more on a handful of blockbuster authors, leaving new authors to sink or swim by their own efforts. A major publishing house prostitutes itself by adding a vanity press line. Magazine ad sales are down, forcing magazines to slim their issues, and so magazines buy fewer articles. Now may not seem the time for writers to be thankful.

Despite the anxious times, I’m still glad to be a writer.

I believe the business of publishing will survive. The extinction of dinosaurs allowed mammals to take over many niches previously closed to them; nimble small presses are likely to fill the gaps left by lumbering giant publishers that could not adapt quickly enough to changing conditions. Companies will try new business models; some authors will, for lack of other options, send their work to publishers using these new models. Publishing will eventually right itself.

Electronic ink has allowed the emergence of easy-to-read ebooks such as the Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s new Nook. Electronic books cost less to make than paper books because paper and printing are expensive. Soon, the price of ebooks will shrink to the point where most people can own a reader and carry an entire library’s worth of books in a pocket or purse. The ebook revolution should benefit writers: Publishers can publish more books because production costs will be lower, and readers can buy more books because ebooks will cost less.

In the meantime, changes in the publishing world make the writing life harder. But some things remain the same. The joy of writing a beautiful sentence and then polishing it and polishing it until it sparkles remains. So do the satisfactions of tackling a challenge and completing it, of entertaining or educating others, of creating something new the world has never seen before, and of making friends with other writers, people whose imaginations soar like your own.

Not to be forgotten, either: Few jobs allow you to work in fuzzy bunny slippers.

I’m thankful this holiday season to be a writer. How about you?

As always, I’m happy you stopped by. I’ll be blogging again at Novel Spaces on December 9. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop starts accepting applications in December for the 2010 summer class, and I’ll fill you in on the application process and why you might want to consider applying.

—Shauna Roberts


KeVin K. said...

Very thankful indeed.
2008 and 2009 were my worst years in terms of number of words written and number of words sold (thing there might be a connection?) but I have still not lost sight of the fact that I am a writer.
And yes, writing is my second job. My day job in family preservation services is both emotionally draining and intellectually wearying. I am very thankful I have writing (but no fuzzy bunny slippers) to help me keep sane.
And also yes, the new electronic age of publishing does mean more horizons and more niches to fill. I'm enthusiastically mammal about the potentials.

Liane Spicer said...

Now, this is the kind of optimism I need to see more of! Periods of adjustment are always difficult, but publishing is by no means in its death throes as some would have us believe.