WARNING: Changes in publishing industry may cause whiplash.

I am absolutely fascinated with the changes happening monthly. The contradictory articles and posts written by people within the same industry are extremely informative. And interesting.

Here are just some of the issues causing my head to spin:

  • Agent vs no agent.
  • Traditional publishing vs self or e-publishing.
  • Agents helping their clients self publish. Is it a conflict of interest? Or not?
  • Big publishers not being honest about ebook sales. (Yikes!)
  • Publishers not giving authors a big enough percent on ebook sales.
  • Do the work on your own to epublish or pay someone else?
  • Is traditional publishing dying a slow and painful death? Or not?
  • Write fast vs write slow. Which is it?
  • Should writers be discouraged or encouraged?

No one has all the answers. Each month the industry changes. No one seems to be totally right or totally wrong. And I think it’s awesome.

I have come to one solid truth. Only you can decide what is right for your career. But whatever you decide. DO THE RESEARCH. Know your options.

As a writer, I feel like I’m in the middle of a revolution. The opportunities have never been better. I don’t know my path yet. I’m not fully decided. That’s why I’m doing the research. Every Wednesday, I’m going to provide one of the following: links, a response to a blog post, a thought provoking question, or an Indy book review. Something that pertains to this publishing revolution. And it’s relevant to all writers whether you have an agent or not and whether you are published or not.

Here’s one article to get us started. It’s about self publishing being the new midlist. You might have read it.

Have you been paying attention? What do you think?  *hands out warm compress*

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52 Responses to WARNING: Changes in publishing industry may cause whiplash.

  1. Jessica Bell July 6, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I ignore everything and trust my own gut. I’m afraid it’s all I can do now. There is TOO much going on. I’m just moving forward at my own pace and crossing my fingers it gets me somewhere I want to be! :o)

  2. Susan Sipal July 6, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    First off, Laura, it’s great to see you back! I hope you had a nice get-away.

    This is such a great post and I’m glad you’re going to focus on this topic each week. I’ve been thinking the same thing lately, and I read that article yesterday. In the eleven years I’ve been writing, there’s always been something changing, but not like it is right now. The attitude toward self-publishing and e-books now compared to then is a complete reversal. And it’s so easy to get confused with all the conflicting information coming out. But it’s definitely exciting.

    Three weeks ago I ventured into e-books myself for the first time when I decided to put my workshop on the Kindle. I have to say, it was the best decision I’ve made regarding my career in a long time. So many good things have come of it. But I’m still just a newbie, and I haven’t yet decided if I want to wade in yet with any of my fiction that hasn’t been placed with a traditional publisher.

    I’ll definitely look forward to your posts on this topic!

    • Laura July 6, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Jessica – I’ve loved seeing your journey and decisions in regards to your work. But I do think it’s something we should be aware of esp. when deciding what to do with our careers.

      Susan – Thanks! It’s good to be back. I think that’s awesome you put your work up. Def. the right decision. I thought that right away. 😉

  3. christine danek July 6, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    This has made my head spin. I’m looking forward to your links. I agree with you–do all the research and find what is best for you. Thanks.

  4. Matthew MacNish July 6, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    It’s an exciting, but also terrifying, time for publishing. Luckily for me I probably won’t finish my novel for another 5-7 years, so everything will probably have settled by then.

    • Laura July 6, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Christine – It’s been fun reading opposite points of views and trying to find truth somewhere in between.

      Matthew – That cracked me up! 🙂

  5. Creepy Query Girl July 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    wow, thanks for sending us towards that article. I do feel like now is a really interesting time to be a writer- asking myself alot of the same questions. NOw that I have a kindle and see how easy, painless, and less expensive it is- I can understand the upheaval a little better. Great post!

  6. Ansha Kotyk July 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Perfectly timely post. Wow, I think I just OD’d on adverbs! 🙂

  7. Kris Asselin July 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Laura’s back!!!! Welcome back, my friend! I’m watching this all unfold with interest, as well. It’s nice to know there are many options for writers!

  8. Andrea July 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Great to see you around again, Laura. I hope you had a fun break!

    I agree that it is important to do your research, especially because of the speed at which this is happening. It’s important to be flexible in your thinking. You never know what opportunities might be there for you. At the moment, I think you also have to keep your readership in mind. Since I write MG, I don’t think e-books are big for my readers now, but they might be not too far in the future.

  9. Louise July 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    It is definitely overwhelming at times. For me, I figure all I can do is focus on writing the story I want, and see where things are at and how they’ve changed by the time it’s in publishable shape!

    • Laura July 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      It is a bit overwhelming. But definitely write first. 🙂 And Andrea, I agree that Middle grade isn’t quite ready for self publishing. Of course, it can be done but from what I’ve seen not as well as adult and YA. I think that might change in the future. And it is nice to know there are options. Valid options now.

  10. Bluestocking July 6, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I’ll be looking forward to these posts, Laura. I only have a firm handle on the traditiaonl route and need to stay informed on other options.

  11. Kelly Polark July 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Definitely an interesting time. I am conflicted whether to go for an agent or go for it by myself. I think I just want the affirmation that I can get an agent more than anything. But then again, it would be exciting to do everything myself, too and be in control. Lots to think about!!

  12. MG Higgins July 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    It is indeed a confusing and tumultuous time in the publishing industry. I envy authors who are already established–maybe they have fewer decisions to make. Looking forward to your upcoming Wednesday posts.

  13. Susan Kaye Quinn July 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Whiplash. Check.

    Spinning head. Check.

    Must be an author in the revolution. Check.

    Here’s a link that set my head twirling again: http://thescribblerscove.blogspot.com/2011/07/indie-publishing-one-authors-decision.html

  14. Jennifer Lane July 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I’ve been rather ignorant of publishing trends since I entered this game a year ago, and I think I’ll continue to put my head in the sand given all the contradictory advice. I’ll just focus on writing, my favorite thing. 😉

    • Laura July 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

      It sounds like I”m the only one. And yes, I’d love to just write to. But I have to be able to look at my writing/genre/premise and look at what’s happening and make an informed decision about the best track for my work. Contradicting posts, yes, but if you don’t buy either extreme I think we can find an uncomfortable truth: things are changing.

  15. Jennifer Hoffine July 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Laura-hope you had a great vacation!

    A publishing revolution…and you’re excited about it…aren’t you the optimist!

    Meanwhile, I’m feeling the need for some Pepto Bismol!

    Really, though, I’m figuring that in the long run traditional publishers will get a handle on this ebook thing and be the ones ebook readers turn to for what to buy, which is currently what works best for debut authors.

    That’s not to say there aren’t more choices now even for debut authors…it’s a balance between making more money by selling less books/ebooks on your own or less money with a traditional publisher with more books/ebooks sold.

    If I were an established mid-lister, my choice would be clear…self-pub and grow your established fan base on your own. It is an exciting time for them.

  16. shelley moore thomas July 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Welcome back.

    I don’t really know what to think of all the changes.

    But I do appreciate all the information I can get!



  17. Sherrie Petersen July 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    It does make your head spin, all these changes. I’ve seen a lot of friends go the indie route with varying success. And I’ve seen friends get traditionally published and fade into oblivion. It can go either way. I’m watching it all and in the meantime, I just keep writing 🙂

  18. Julie Musil July 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Whiplash is right! Holy cow. Revolution is a great way of putting it. I feel like right now there are more opportunities for writers than ever. Will our publishing path look the same as it would have 10 years ago? No way. But I think that’s a good thing. Heck, I’m hanging on and enjoying the ride.

    I read that link and was fascinated. Wow.

  19. Theresa Milstein July 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    There is a lot of debate and conflicting info going on. I think the self-publishing group is more vocal. But there’s definitely change, though how far it will go? We’ll have to see.

  20. Angela Ackerman July 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Becca and I were just firing back and forth messages about all of this. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on all that is going down, Laura. It is very tough to plot a course right now, and we definitely all have to decide for ourselves what to do in the days ahead.

    Hugs and welcome back!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  21. Lisa Green July 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    YOU’RE BACK!! *Hugs computer* Hope you had a good time. <33 the post. Viva la revolution!! The writing is better than ever too because it has to be. So it may be harder for us, but the readers are really making out! So yay!!

  22. Elle Strauss July 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    This is definitely what everyone seems to be talking about right now. I think it’s great that we have so many options now as writers, and we don’t have to pick just one route. I’m still pursuing traditional publishing with my agent for one book series I have planned, but I’m seriously looking at self-e publishing for my lighter fair, and possibly small press for something else.

    I look forward to your future posts. And, welcome back!

    • Laura July 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks for all the comments. And that’s what I think is so awesome. That there has been success both places and there has been failures going both routes. So it is more important than ever to judge your book and where it might make you the most profit and reach the most readers. B/c really that’s what we all want. Readers. And a bit of money wouldn’t hurt. 🙂

  23. C.R. Moss July 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Thanks for the post & the link to the article. I look forward to the future links you’ll share.

  24. Laura Josephsen July 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Welcome back! Hope you had a fabulous trip!

    I agree about the changing industry. I recently, after much thought and prayer and researching, decided to withdraw a book I had pending a contract with my small house publisher to self-publish it. It’s been quite an interesting journey so far, especially as I enter final preparations to release the book. The funny thing is, self-publishing isn’t something I would have even considered a year ago.

    It’s fascinating to see the changes in the publishing industry and to see the different paths writers choose. Everyone’s journey is so different and what’s right for one person might not be right for another one. At the same time, I love that we can all come together from whatever path we’re on and share and learn from each other.

  25. becca puglisi July 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Angela and I have been talking about this and I’m SOOOO glad you’ve decided to address it. Your attitude is, frankly, inspiring; this whole thing makes me want to stare blankly out the window and drink inadvisable amounts of Mountain Dew. I can’t wait to see your take on it, and hopefully get some good information!

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

  26. Laura Marcella July 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    I haven’t been paying too much attention right now, but I have noticed those topics are allll over Twitter and the blogosphere. When my time comes, the information will be different anyway. So like you said, I’ll do my research and choose what’s right for me!

    Glad to see you’re back. Hope you had a wonderful vacation!

  27. Cynthia C Willis July 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    All the information out there can be overwhelming. There are only so many hours in a day to keep up with everything and write. So, I’m looking forward to your posts! : )

  28. Robert Chazz Chute July 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I love the changes that are happening. I used to work inside mainstream publishing and it definitely needed a shake up! Thanks for the post! Good one.

    I personally don’t think all of self-publishing rises to the level of midlist. A lot of it will be dead on arrival (though that’s true of much of traditional publishing, as well, so no shame there.)

    One way for self-publishing to go will be to work as the new query letter, an indie means to a traditional end. There never was an outlet for market research. In trad publishing, unlike most industries, market research was simply the first print run. Self-publishing gives publishers a track record to evaluate.

    However, for me, self-publishing is the end in and of itself.

    • Laura July 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

      Thanks everyone. I had a feeling I couldn’t be the only blogger/writer in search of publication to be wondering about the future. 🙂

  29. Sarah July 7, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    This has been a fascinating time, and things seem to be changing so quickly. I doubt that will change, either. I guess I’ve just been rolling with it and continuing to write. Great post!

  30. Leslie Rose July 7, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    Overwhelming is the word that comes to mind. Thank you for the help in navigating the choppy waters. Looking forward to the clarifying posts.

  31. Samantha Verant July 7, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    No kidding. I think it will all simmer down soon. I want to go the traditional route, build up a name for myself, and then maybe I’d self publish. Would I involve my agent with self-pubbing? Yes, I think I would.

  32. Karen Lange July 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Things are changing, that’s for sure. I feel like I step away from my computer, and when I come back, something is different! I heard Laura Resnick speak at a conference recently and she touched on the same idea. Interesting stuff, thanks!

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

  33. Stacy July 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    This is a really great link. First time I’ve seen the income thing laid out so honestly. I’d take anyone of those March revenues for my book.

    And yes, whiplash is right. On the one hand, there seems to be value in querying and going the traditional route. You could get feedback that really helps. Then again, you might not get any. Your book might not be what the big six and/or smaller publishers are looking for.

    But with self-publishing, the marketing is the key. And that’s something that intimidates me. What’s the best strategy for getting your name out there? How did those midlisters do it? And if I self-publish and do reach “midlist” status, does that bolster or hinder my chances of eventually get published with a traditional publisher?

    These are the questions that keep my head spinning, lol!

  34. Marcia July 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    My head is spinning right along with yours. I’m trying my best to keep up with the changes and issues and am pretty much just absorbing right now rather than opening my mouth. In the midst of family events, keeping up with teaching, and diving headfirst into what I think is my last round of revisions before querying, I’m just hoping to keep current at this point.

    • Laura July 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      There are so many questions and so many great questions. Stacy you nailed a few of them. I don’t have the answer and I’m not the expert. All I want to do with the series is highlight the questions, provide links, and start discussions. We all need to think about the future and can’t hide our head in the sand and pretend publishing is the same as it was five years ago!

  35. Courtney Cantrell July 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Laura, thanks for this summary of all of these issues — which have been making my head spin, too! Only 18 months ago, I was crafting query letters, querying agents, and hoping against hope that I’d get my “lucky break” if I worked hard enough.

    Now, I find myself a heavy proponent of indie- and self-publishing…and my first novel was published through a brand new indie publisher in April. The next book comes out in October. My e-books sell better than my paperbacks.

    This is a grand, exciting time for writers. For the first time, *we* decide what happens to our books. And for the first time, *readers* get to decide what’s worthy of reading and what isn’t.

    It’s all terribly liberating, encouraging, and affirming! As far as the revolution goes, I’m definitely on the side of the brave new publishing world. ; )

  36. Paul Greci July 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I pay attention but try not to get too attached to the current information because like you said, it can be all over the place and changes quickly. That said, I’ll look forward to your Wednesday posts!! 🙂

  37. Cinette July 8, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    All I’m going to worry about for now is writing stories that (hopefully) people would enjoy. Until I have that down pat, I’m just putting the cart before the horse, no matter how closely I’m trying to follow the industry.

  38. Ghenet July 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    I have been thinking about this but not doing as much research yet because I need to get my manuscript polished first before worrying about how to get it published. But I have been paying attention to these types of posts and discussions going around. I’m interested to see what you post here each week. 🙂

  39. Misha July 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m definitely starting to pay closer attention now, as I’m coming closer to finishing my WiP.

    Sharing links is a great idea! I’m heading over to read the blog you linked to now. 🙂

  40. Elana Johnson July 9, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    You nailed it, girl. Every author has to decide what’s best for them, and then we need to make sure we don’t judge another for their choice.

    In the ever-expanding arena of publishing options, the competition is stiff. I’d hate to burn a bridge, you know?

  41. Margo Berendsen July 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I’ll definitely look forward to your Wednesday posts – I agree we are in the midst of a revolution and I’m excited to see continued changes in the publishing industry.

  42. Amie Kaufman July 10, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Seriously, the warm compress is needed! I’m really looking forward to the posts you’ve got planned. I think your advice is right–research, get the right information (from people who know what they’re talking about, not people who’s just guessing in an authorative tone) and make a decision that suits YOU. Looking forward to what you dig up on writing fast/writing slow.

  43. Heather Kelly July 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Love this blog series that you are starting. I agree, we all need to be as informed as possible as the industry changes. And not to yell, “the sky is falling!” too many times. 🙂

  44. Ardyth DeBruyn July 12, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    That was a great article. I’m also excited about your series. My theory is to try a bit everything, indie publisher, self-publishing, agents, editors. Like you said, reading readers is the point, so anyway to do that–I’ll give it a try.


  1. Tempting Tuesday: The Rush to Self-Publish | Stacy Green – Turning The Page - October 6, 2011

    […] time I think of this. So much information coming out almost daily makes it hard to find the answer. Laura Paulingis doing a series of Wednesday posts about the subject, and she features a lot of great links. […]

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