Z is for Zephyr

Z is for Zephyr.

Zephyr is the west wind, a light wind, one that has traditionally been considered the most mild and favorable. Your writing career is beset with winds of change.

The past ten years have seen massive consolidation in the traditional publishing field, with many long-time leaders merging. Imprints have been dropped and treasured editors have been let go. Ten years ago, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing did not exist; today, it is the largest self-publishing platform for writers. The Kindle itself had not been released, although other ereaders were around. (The Rocket Ebook proudly boasted that it could hold up to ten books!) Apple’s iPhone did not exist; today, it is the sole ereading device for many readers.

Borders Books and Music closed in 2011, and many believe that Barnes & Noble will be gone within another year (although they’ve been saying that for at least the past two years.) At the same time, many independent bookstores are blossoming, rising up to fill niches in distribution, now that the big-box bookstores are losing their grip.

Individual authors have seen their fortunes rise and fall. Amanda Hocking made the news in 2011 when the formerly self-published author sold four books to St. Martin’s Press (part of Macmillan, one of the surviving Big Five traditional publishers) for a seven-figure deal. Ms. Hocking, though, has not been mentioned in publishing news in years. Her accomplishments were supplanted by Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey, by Liliana Hart and Sylvia Day.

Some writers are imbued with entrepreneurial spirit. They thrive on harnessing new technologies, exploring the potential of evolving channels of distribution, finding new readers for new books.

Other writers follow behind, fine-tuning those discoveries, honing advances and pinpointing successful strategies.

Then there are the writers who change nothing, who continue to write books exactly as they’ve written them, who attempt to sell them to the same publishers, promoting them in the same ways to the same readers. As publishers fail, though, as promotional messages are diluted by “noise” in the system, as readers are distracted by the latest, shiniest, newest attractions, those staid writers find themselves selling fewer and fewer books. Their prospects become dim. They fail.

The only thing constant is change. And rational writers learn to manage that change.

No one has to become an expert at all things. No one has to master traditional publishing and self publishing, every vein of promotion, every aspect of storytelling. But rational writers strive to be familiar with every aspect of writing. They play to their strong points. They hire expertise to advance their weak points.

You’ve already taken the first step, by reading this series of blog posts.

So? What are you going to do going forward? How will you stay informed? How will you adapt? How will you prepare yourself for wherever the winds of change see fit to bring you?



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