To publish or not publish again

A friend remarked that there was such a pool of writing talent these days that a bottleneck had been created at the point of publishing, and that it was almost impossible to get creative work out to the public readership quickly.

The business of publishing can take its own share of blame for creating this situation, for it has changed greatly over the years, and where once it served the client, one on one across a counter, has now grown so large and cumbersome that in the name of good business practices, or what is perceived as such, must look to its own survival first. Publishing has become seriously corporate, and hand in glove in this endeavour have gone the booksellers. There has been a frenzy of swallowing whole the lesser fish in the publishing pond, and creating enormous hierarchies that have nothing to do with literary excellence and good scholarship, except that their author output must support the all important bottom financial line. There is the claim that the small publishing houses continue to have autonomy in book selection decision-making, nevertheless severe restrictions on what titles they may consider are clearly in place.
Writers, many, many very good ones, following the creative muse, as they should, find themselves being treated as commodity items rather than artists, and are ill-equipped to fight their way through the many levels of scrutiny and bureaucracy that might eventually lead to a book contract.
It’s not a good situation nowadays. Bookshops are full of the most obvious subjects; presenting theme publishing to satisfy public tastes of the moment has become an art form in its own right.
This is too bad; the best writers are probably never heard of, perhaps people who have something really valuable to offer to the world. It is not true to say that worth will win through, because most writers will balk at the daunting process looming before them, and will put their work away in a drawer.
I’m not talking about the block-buster stories, the Harry Potters and the like, which are very deliberately marketed for profit, but the tiny, beautiful pieces of word-smithing that can nourish every one of us, should we get a chance to read it.
If books are not the right size for the shelves of the big bookshops, the right price, of course, and the right story length, they will very likely never get into print.
It is the small things, the diversity in society that makes it rich, and though these are not so tidy in the making, tidiness, as market share and financial predictability, has made it hard for those who have chosen to be true to their writers’ art.
There is much hope, however.
Self publishing, in all its diverse forms, has appeared as the great white knight, it is the answer to this dilemma. Technological change, of all sorts, has made it possible to put into print whatever one wants, and through the medium of the Internet, writers may produce their work at very little cost, and readers too may freely partake of those offerings. In time, if the reading public is attracted to what had been written, there is as fair a chance of having a decent distribution and opportunity to make money, as going the other route.
The Weblog format is particularly attractive in this regard and will be one good way in which a diversity of books will make it out into the light of day.


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