Saturday, July 21, 2012


Oh brave new world of writing where experiments in bridging the gap from writer to reader proliferate. Before us lies the writers' hundred-fold path to the future. Will we emulate photons and chose which slit to enter or do we, wave-like, follow multiple paths to the goal? Which of the many options will succeed? Which will lead to the best outcome? Is there a "best" path to produce income, another path to follow for critical acclaim, or a broad highway  to expanded readership?

So far the paths seem to be strewn with false leads. Traditional publishers, who must focus on massive sales recover their massive overhead costs from print operations, no longer seems a viable option. Publishing giants are so invested in their complex infrastructure that the chance of decent returns to support their enterprise for the vast majority of writers to  is not high enough to chance. Instead they plan their future on the hope that traditional books are not likely to disappear and trim costs to weather the transition.

 The shame surrounding self-publishing is rapidly disappearing as well-known authors push their backlist into eBook formats and sometimes venture new works as well. Some might employ copy editors to clean up the text and hope that the income from sales will be sufficient to cover that cost.
Income from personal publishing is marginal at best.  The primary problem is enticing readers to discover your works. The best strategy is to publish on as many platforms as possible and employ the time-consuming method of using social networks to get the word out.  Since this so easy any individual's attempt is drowned out by the noise of competing enticements.

A more time consuming path is to have a professional epublisher handle your work, relieving you of the effort to edit it into final form, obtain cover art, translate it into marketable form and provide it with the imprinure of a professional effort.

Putting a work out for "free"  is another option that produces modest results.  Donations are an immediate form of feedback and the lack of them can guide the writer away from failed experiments.  Placing a work on the web for "free" and asking readers for a donation revives the practice of patronage. Although many will take advantage of this others feel an obligation to throw a dollar or two your way.  Donations can vary widely as readers express the value they place on the work.  Others may simply donate as a way to encourage you to produce even more.

A combination of epublishing and print-on-demand can reach both those preferring traditional books and the readers of electronic versions. The advantage of following this path is that an ereaders' words of mouth recommendations to their unenlightened brethren might promote sales of the print on demand editions.  This might be a reciprocal arrangement, but there is little evidence of it.

Another path is for writers to turn themselves into a miocrocasm of the industry by becoming writer, editor, publisher, and publicist. This path is steep, requiring the writer to spend time mastering unfamiliar skills, all of which detract from time available for writing and productivity suffers.  On the positive side, none of the resulting proceeds need be shared.

So how does the writer place  his or her bet?

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