Every once in a while I have to stop my work, look up from my computer, and take a good long look around me. What does the publishing landscape look like from one agent’s perspective? Here are a few things I see:
♦ I see a higher level of stress surrounding publishing than I’ve ever seen in 17 years in this business.
♦ I see authors pulled in too many different directions, no longer having the “luxury” of focusing on just writing the best book they can, but needing to be experts at marketing and social media too.
♦ I see many authors doing an amazing job at both writing and marketing, and I’m in awe of this.
♦ I see amazing opportunities for authors that they’ve never had before: opportunities to reach more readers through digital publishing; opportunities to connect with their readers through social media.
♦ I see a totally unnecessary “us vs. them” mentality when it comes to traditional publishing vs. indie or self-publishing. I see tremendous potential for many authors to take advantage of both avenues.
♦ I see people trying to demonize agents and other “middlemen” or gatekeepers whose role has been to facilitate the connection between writer and reader, claiming all the middlemen will be extinct.
♦ Meanwhile, I see agents staying completely on top of all the changes in our industry, being the eyes and ears of publishing for their clients, and remaining confident that their unique knowledge and skills will remain valuable regardless of how things change.
♦ I see some publishers being astonishingly creative and proactive when it comes to marketing in today’s new environment, and other publishers that aren’t quite rising to the challenge.
♦ I see publishers constantly revising their contracts to protect their own interests as the publishing landscape continues to make it more difficult for them to profit (keeping agents on their toes).
♦ I see technology companies and certain giant online retailers profiting much more than publishers or authors in the new economy of publishing.
♦ I see books and reading continuing to be as popular as ever, regardless of form or format.
♦ I see a stunning amount of disagreement over where publishing is headed and where we’ll all be in five years; the only thing anyone agrees on is that things are changing too fast to keep up with.
Those are a few of my thoughts for today.