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11 Aug 2014

My interest in reading about the subject of writing was a long time coming; my interest in writing on the subject is even more of a late arrival. Over the years I plugged away, not with great consistency, but long enough to realize the problem is with the writers as well as the reader.

In time the situation has improved, with noteworthy gems emerging. My recent favorites are
  • The Constant Art of Being a Writer, by N. M. Kelby
  • Hit Lit, by James M. Hall and
  • On Writing, perhaps the shortest book Stephen King ever wrote.
Kelby and King counseled me in the ways of regular writing, while Hall identified the major elements common to fiction bestsellers, using examples I actually knew something about.

Although I continue to subscribe to writer's favorites like Writers Digest and Writers Market, I have serious doubts about continuing. I keep reading to stay in touch with the industry but the more I do, the more I feel the industry is not in touch ith me. These industry publications, while acknowledging the rift between traditional publishing and self-publishing, have done little to bridge the gap. Sure, they cover each side to one extent or another, but it is seen as a binary. In truth the situation is fluid and multidimensional. As such it is rife with opportunity for those who work within both spheres. Columnists focusing on traditional publishing may fail to understand that even bigger changes are afoot, bigger than any technology-inspired revolution. The face of publishing is changed forever, regardless of the medium.

If I want to publish books I have no choice put to face them head on. While I have published in traditional media and still have a strong emotional attachment to bookstore distribution, my business brain is dragging me into self-publishing. This month I will release my second and third self-published books, with more to come in short order. In one case I am the editor and publisher, not the writer, because the writer would never have the wherewithal to get through the process. With my journalistic training I am comfortable in the role, and foresee a future for this kind of work.

That said, my outlook on self-publishing has been fraught with indecision. Writing is a lonely activity, but with the changes in publishing today, with the decline of agencies and traditional publishers, the business of writing is getting lonely as well. New forms of organization must emerge. What do you wish they would look like? These changes will be the focus of my upcoming blogs on writing, appearing here every Monday morning.

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