Posted on Jun 11th, 2012
I began this blog in January of 2008 when I became an agent, and it’s remarkable to look back over my past posts with an eye toward how much has changed in that brief 4 ½ years. When I started, I didn’t even have a Kindle. Now I’m on my third one, and I couldn’t imagine being in this business without one.
I wrote posts back then about how there was a stigma to self-publishing and I warned writers against it— if they wanted to be taken seriously. Now self-publishing is THE great new frontier for writers.
I wrote about how e-books were a minuscule percentage of any author’s total books sold.
I was not even on Twitter until a year after I started the blog (January, 2009). Facebook and Twitter were still optional and sort of curiosities.
What else has changed in the book business?
- The closing of Borders was an epic blow to the industry, and many independents have closed as well.
- Walmart and the big-box stores continued their rise and dominance in non-internet retail.
- Amazon became the proverbial 600-pound gorilla in book retailing (600-pound gorilla doesn’t even begin to capture it); made it possible for self-published authors to compete with publishers; and began competing directly with publishers by starting to “traditionally” publish themselves.
- Several small publishers went out of business; even larger publishers are at risk with the bankruptcy filing of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt last month.
- E-books continue to grow in terms of their proportion of overall book sales, and the percentage of people owning e-readers keeps rising dramatically.
- The popularity of the iPad vastly increased the number of people buying e-books.
- The price of books became a huge issue as the low cost of self-published e-books and low publisher promotional prices began to affect consumers’ willingness to pay full-price for books.
- An ideological war seems to have broken out between some proponents of self-publishing and those who still advocate for traditional publishing.
- Writers are expected to use every avenue of social media to promote their own books.
What hasn’t changed?
Pretty much everything about being a writer. Writing books is the same as it ever was. You still have to spend the time in the chair. You still have to figure out how to balance writing with the rest of your life. You still have writer-insecurities and desperate craving for affirmation. You still have to study the craft and write and write and write to become any good at it.
What other changes have you noticed over the last few years? As a writer, how much does it matter to you?
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