Publishing and Reality

Publishing and Reality

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When I started writing I was 14. I never dreamt of ever getting published.

Being published meant getting an agent who thought what you wrote was worth reading. After getting an agent you had to somehow secure a publishing deal, but that was the agents job (I think). He or she then had to somehow convince a publishing house you were worth taking a risk on. Again, that was the agents job. If you were lucky enough to get that far without going nuts the publishing company assigned an editor to work with you. Their job was to tell you what did and didn’t work. Publishing houses have always asked for every manuscript to be double spaced. Doubled spaced manuscripts allowed editors and their dreaded red pencil to mark up your crisp, properly formatted manuscript. After this came numerous revisions, re-writing, and more editing.

If you still have a pulse after all of this people who know you will either think you’re really dedicated or a crazed masochist. Re-writing till the editor has run out of expletives usually takes a number of years. And while you’re busy pounding the typewriter keys the market for your book may have dried up, or the publishing company may discover someone else has written a similar book and loses interest in you. You may end up with a great looking book but no publisher or agent.

Then there was vanity publishing. You had to find them. You paid them. You didn’t have an agent. You had to edit the book yourself. They were more than willing to publish anything – provided you paid them an obscene sum and were willing to put up with two hundred copies of a book that basically nobody wanted. Oh sure, that would be fine that first Christmas. You could flog a copy or two on each of your nearest and dearest. But after that you still had one hundred a fifty copies hanging around the house. What are you going to do with a hundred and fifty copies of a poorly written, poorly edited book?

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Along came self publishing. Where anybody with a computer and determination could have their book published. There’s one problem with self publishing. It’s very similar to vanity publishing. You end up doing most of the work while the publishing folks haul in the profits. You might make back the money you spent in a few decades. The vast majority of electronic books are ghastly in the extreme. If you picked 100 e books at random I think you’d find that 90 of them fall into the “What was I thinking” pile. A lot of them are trashy re-prints of physical books (the kind you can hold in your hands) that had a shelf life of only two or three days. I read very few physical books nowadays. I’m working on that. I was sucked into the e book craze.

Which brings me back to reality. I’m chucking the idea of ever getting published. There are far too many people churning out pure drivel. They don’t mind that they’re not making a million. They simply want to be able to say “I wrote a book” and see they’re name in print. The good writers, the really good writers, are being squeezed out by really, really bad writers. I’ll stick with WordPress and my little blog. I simply haven’t the energy to market what I produce. I’d much rather put a smile on five faces than a frown on fifty.

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