“P” is for Publishing – It’s no longer a ‘romantic’ industry

Hi, everyone!  This post is part of the A-Z challenge. Please take time to visit the other blogs that are participating.

We all know the publishing world is turning upside down, and don’t let anyone convince you that the industry is dead.  

The numbers I read from Bowker reports  dated April 4, 2010, and May 18, 2011 are astounding:

247,777 books were published in 2002
266,322 in 2003
295,523 in 2004
282,500 in 2005
296,362 in 2006
407,646 in 2007
561,580 in 2008
1,335,475 in 2009
3,092,740 in 2010

At this rate there could be tens of millions of ISBN numbers issued in 2012. Did you get that? Tens of millions of possible books!

The number is mind-boggling, and you know as well as I, those books aren’t coming out of the Big 6.  This means most of the influx (even if only half of are published) will come from self-published authors.   This saddens me to a certain degree.  Many years ago, it meant something to say you were a published author.  It was romantic.  You were looked upon with a certain respect.  You were special.  Unique.  After all, not everyone had a way with the written word.

Not anymore.

Now, thanks to Lulu, CreateSpace and Amazon (among others), anyone can be published, whether they have talent or not.   There’s nothing special about being published anymore.   If you have a thousand bucks in your pocket and words thrown into a .pdf file, you can be published.  That’s not to say there aren’t some good self-published books out there.  There are, but the self-gratification process negates the romantic element of being published…the being picked.

There is something romantic about a publisher choosing a particular short story or novel for publication.  After all your time, hard work and persistence, someone notices and thinks you’re pretty darn special.  Your publishing ‘soul mate’ has picked you, YOU, out of the millions of hopefuls, to represent.  It’s romantic.  It’s exhilarating.  You won!  Your ‘voice’ spoke above all the others.

Where is the romance with self-publishing?  You plunk down your hard-earned money, gratify your needs, and then congratulate yourself for a job well done.  I will admit there are some lucky self-published authors who sell lots of books, but those are few and far between.

And what is with this eBook stuff?  I know it’s the wave of the future, but where’s the romance of pointing to something on a screen and saying, “I wrote that”?  Imagine giving birth to a baby and never being able to hold it, touch it.  All you can do is look at it on a screen and say “I created that.”  I know this is an extreme example, but there’s not much difference to me.  These are my words, my creations.  I want to touch them, see them.  I want to autograph a complete novel, not a cover page. To me, digital isn’t real.  It isn’t physical.  It’s not the actual work.  It’s cold. It’s cyber.  It’s not romantic.

I fear tangible proof of an author’s work will someday vanish completely, like so many other crafts.  Physical books will be found only in museums or private collections.  They’ll be rare, but you know what?  They’ll be real.  They’ll outlast the Kindles and Nooks, and you’ll never have to worry about out-dated software.  All you’ll ever need with a tangible book are your eyes and imagination.  And when you’re done, all you have to do is pass the books on for someone else to enjoy.  No worrying about copyright infringement or too many downloads  per ‘license’ or ‘share’ rights.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think this old-fashioned, romantic girl is going to keep it ‘real’. I know there’s a publisher out there who’s going to think I’m special, and my writing will find a home.  All I have to do is hold out and wait.  Be patient.  The best is yet to come.