Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The future of publishing is a tsunami

The water is drawing away from us as we watch a giant wave on the horizon. It looks small from a distance, but as it approaches we realize something major is on the verge of happening and that the way things used to be will be no more. This is how I feel about the future of publishing.

From the reports and news filing in externally to the conversations I've had internally, the publishing business is about to change rapidly and dramatically. And no, I'm not saying it will be the end of books or good writing. I'm not saying writers will be wiped off the face of the earth like dinosaurs and card catalogs. But things will change and soon.

Here are some predictions:
  1. Content delivery will change. We've already seen this as companies replace print catalogs with newsletters and e-mail blasts. Some magazines have already closed up shop in print to focus on their websites.
  2. Submission methods will change. Most editors already accept submissions via e-mail. More are moving toward online submissions forms. Eventually, writers won't have to worry about the price of postage going up every year (outside of the "old school" practice of mailing cards for holidays and birthdays).
  3. Roles will change. Editors are becoming marketers as much as quality assurance experts; agents are becoming editors as much as career consultants; writers are more and more being asked to build platforms and develop an audience before acceptance.
  4. Titles will change. Writers are turning into content providers. Publishing companies are turning into media companies. Magazines are turning into websites.
  5. Balance of power will change. I'm not sure how, who will be most affected, what the resulting landscape will be, but I do know the time is ripe for some companies/individuals to rise up while others slowly fade away or burn quickly across the publishing mesosphere.

Basically, everything will change.


If you're a writer who wants to take action, here are some recent posts I've made to my blog on the Writer's Digest Community site:

While there, you could also check out Jane Friedman's The Future of Publishing group. She's really got a better handle on the whole future of publishing than anyone I know.


I submitted six poems to RATTLE tonight. It's been a long time since I've made the time to submit my work, but I can only sit on poems with titles like "The Robots" and "Yes, Daddy is like a minivan" for so long.

Also, I've now made it through 10 days of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge at my Poetic Asides blog. I am very, very happy with the poems I've written so far and look forward to what I might create the rest of the month.

Here are the 10 prompts so far:

  1. Write a poem in which you (or something) enters something new.
  2. Write a poem in which you look at something from a different angle.
  3. Write a positive poem or a negative poem (Two for Tuesday prompt).
  4. Take phrase "Maybe (blank)," replace blank with word or phrase, make title of your poem, and write poem.
  5. Write a growth poem.
  6. Write a poem with (or about) someone (or something) covered.
  7. Pick a plant, make that title of your poem, and write poem.
  8. Take the phrase "Should (blank)," replace blank with word or phrase, make title of your poem, and write poem.
  9. Write a slippery poem.
  10. Write a love or anti-love poem (Two for Tuesday prompt).


Outside of an intermittent Internet connection today, I don't have much bothering me at the moment--unlike Baby Will, who now suddenly has four teeth in his mouth. Poor little guy!

Here's hoping things are super cool in your neck of the woods!


Sarah Jane said...

this is a fantastic post. I am primarily a published illustrator, but hope to include writing to my portfolio soon. As a blogger, and a marketer for my own work, I see rolls crossing, mixing and changing myself. Great post, with lots to think about! Glad I found you via twitter tonight!

Jessie Carty said...

Your PAD prompts have been great! I've been pretty pleased with the poems I've written as a result of using them myself :)

I'd love to hear more about the changing world of publishing. It is a fascinating time right now.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, Jessie and Sarah Jane!