What Does It Mean
to Be an Author in Todayís World
by Jeff Ayers
What does it mean to be an author in todayís world? Five years ago,
it started with the blessing of an agent to represent you, hopefully
proceeded to an investment from a publishing house, and ended with a
physical copy of the book in your hands. You could walk into a
bookstore or public library and find something you wrote sitting on
the shelves. I had that wonderful feeling when my Star Trek book
was published in 2006. Since then, however, the game has changed.
With the Internet explosion, information can reach the reader
instantaneously. With the release of the Kindle, the Nook and other
e-reader devices, the book paradigm has also shifted. Now authors
have the opportunity to make their works available to the general
public without involving an agent or publisher at all.
A lot of the current e-book market consists of self-published works
distributed by the authors. In the past, the words self and
publishing put together signified books of lower quality.
Valid or not, the stigma of not being distributed by a mainstream
publisher gave that impression to librarians, booksellers, and
literary agents. That view of independent publishing has radically
shifted as well with the advent of easy publication through the
This whole new world is forcing me to change my thinking. I have a
novel that is circulating among several publishers. While I wait
for either acceptance or rejection, Iím writing my next book. This
is the ďhurry up and waitĒ method of eventual publishing success or
failure. Now, I could self-publish my novel and get it to readers
almost immediately electronically. In doing so, would I hurt its
chance for possible future success in mainstream publishing? Who
are a bunch of advantages going the e-book route. The Internet has
made it far easier for authors to reach their audiences directly
through social media and online marketing. The readers gets their
books faster, and the cost of production is drastically decreased.
But I canít walk into my local Barnes and Noble and see a physical
copy of my work on their shelves. I also wonít see it at my local
also difficult to loan a copy of a digital book to a friend. Iím
constantly recommending great reads and loaning out copies of my
books. Kindle recently made this easier with the announcement that
books could now be borrowed on the device
your local library. I have already taken advantage of this
wonderful new service. Prior to this change, if you wanted to
borrow e-books from the library, another e-reader device was
required. It is nice to see Kindle jump on board with libraries to
make this service available. Iíve lost track of how many people
Iíve helped borrow books on it.
that in mind, not everyone is tech-savvy. Most of the patrons I see
have no knowledge of e-books at all. For the ones that do, not a
day goes by at the library without me having to show someone how to
properly use their e-reader and successfully download library
materials or purchased e-books onto it. I hope to see in the
immediate future companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble work in
their communities to teach technologically challenged adults how to
use e-readers. Libraries could also teach classes. A little
training would pay off in increased sales of devices and books, a
win-win for everyone.
Amazon.com is now selling more Kindle books than print books. I
wonder if Barnes and Noble have similar results with the Nook?
Still, the copy you can hold in your hands is not going away anytime
soon. iTunes changed the music industry forever, yet you can still
get a CD copy of your bandís latest work. Though the e-book world
is only going to continue to expand, there will continue to be a
market for paper for some time to come.
What does the future hold for the publishing industry? I foresee
more integration between mainstream and independent publishers
creating a book distribution system without the distinction of how
it was published.
Libraries will need to refocus on how materials are selected for
inclusion in their systems, since selection is primarily
review-based. Book review sites and magazines will have to shift
their priorities as well. The physical book might be endangered,
but the written word is here to stay.
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