With the holidays finally past – they do seem to linger, don’t they? – I thought it was time to do another quarterly update. The big news of late is that I’ve started my own publishing company, Flying Raven Press, a small operation which will publish some of my own work as well as a few other authors. I allowed myself to focus on getting this operation off the ground the past six weeks, so not nearly as much writing as I would have liked, but that’s changing now. The word engines are slowly firing back up to full speed.
Why did I start my own publishing company? Well, I touched on this a couple months ago (in a blog post that’s gotten thousands of hits – thanks for reading), but the gist of it is this: Because I have to. I’d rather not be my own publisher. I’d honestly rather just focus on the writing, but the publishing landscape has dramatically changed in the last year, and there’s even more to come. More bookstores will close. Publishers will get even more conservative about what they publish. What publishing looks like a year from now will probably look nothing like it does today.
The recession plays a small part in this, but most of these changes are due to the e-book revolution. By the end of the year, many experts believe that perhaps 25% of books sold will be digital.
Most professional writers of the future will be doing exactly what I’m doing, mixing both traditional (think big New York publishers) and independent publishing. It wasn’t plausible to publish independently even two years ago unless you wanted to sell books out of the back of a van, something I swore I would never do. But now, with authors able to publish e-books and print-on-demand books themselves — at minimal cost, if you have the skills to do it — and have those books show up on Amazon.com and other retailers, it’s become a viable option.
Strike that. Make that a vital option.
Because as a long term pro said to me recently, it’s probably not even possible to make a living as a writer now unless you do both. You’ve got to go where the readers are, and right now a big chunk of them are using Kindles and Nooks.
All that said, how do I feel about wearing two hats (both publisher and writer)? Well, the extra work may not be fun, but I’ll tell you one thing: I almost feel like this publishing era was specifically designed for me. Before I committed to being a writer, I thought I was going to be an artist, and spent years developing those skills (which helps me in designing book covers). I’ve spent 10 years in technology-related training day jobs, which in addition to giving me the ability to get up in front of people (if I’m asked to speak to groups, as I already have been), has given me all the application skills to design both electronic and print books. I started and ran a bookstore for three years, giving me an insight into the business – and readers – that few writers have. And of course I’ve practiced and practiced my craft, cranking out over two million words of fiction.
Not only that, but for a writer like me, who writes just like he reads – all over the genre map – this new era of publishing is incredibly liberating. I can write whatever I want. Some books will go out with publishers like Simon and Schuster, and others will go out via Flying Raven Press. But I don’t have to feel like I have to shoehorn myself into a tiny genre box any more.
How do I feel?
I finally feel like I was born in the right time. And I’m loving it.
Now I just have to settle down and make up some more stories.