While surfing the blogs today, I landed onÂ Do Some Damage, where Sandra Ruttan posted a very thoughtful piece on the emergence of publishing techniques as a dominant topic in authors’ blogs. Sandra remembers the days when the craft of writing was the primary topic of discussion by authors, who were basically tossing around shop talk to other authors. The tone of her piece was very downbeat, sad, like a requiem to good times gone. I offered my opinion that the best times are right around the corner.
The digital revolution has brought with it many thousands and thousands of new readers, people who perhaps have never read the New York Times, and in many cases, who will never read a hardcover book.
This fact alone has driven many of those people (readers) to blogs that feature some of their favorite, newly-found authors. These authors are not likely to sit around pontificating about POV shifts or passive voice for fear of losing their newly-found audience. Can you blame them?Â Instead, they talk about their books, their struggle to get them noticed, the constant pressure to promote themselves and their work.
To be sure, blog discussions on craft can still be found, but authors such as Sandra (and myself, for that matter) have occasionally crossed over to talk about publishing. Plus, there are many more new blogs by new authors trying to appeal strictly to their readers, not to other authors. The days when authors felt they should only speak to other authors and not to readers are gone like last Sunday’s newspaper. Those were the closed-society, good-ol’-boy traditional publishing monopoly days. The newer, self-pubbed authors come to the table without the elitist attitude.
Contrary to popular myth, traditional publishing (and I started there) has always been about sales and profit, not about maintaining a high quality of writing. If the two were to dovetail, which they often did, so much the better, but when they didn’t, the likes of THE DaVINCI CODE and Snooki always won out over quality writing. And I meanÂ always. Nowadays, the trad world has even abandoned that charade, saying instead that theirÂ raison d’etreÂ is quality editing, formatting, and cover design. That may be true, but I can hire those people myself, and for a lot less than a trad company will want.
I’ve learned my craft by writing, listening to people I respect, and through the enormously valuable critique groups I’ve belonged to over the years as I’ve moved around. As I mentioned, I still find a lot of worthwhile discussions online. Writers conferences are another rich source of learning material. I’m still learning.
The future of blogging is very bright. I know I’ve learned a lot about self-publishing and promotion from the blogs. I’ve been inspired by the stories of some of these extremely successful authors who New York wouldn’t piss on. The realities of the newly-emerging publishing world have become starkly apparent to me through reading some of the more eloquent authors’ blogs. And it’s only going to get better as self-publishing ramps up.