If you are interested in peeking inside what it means to be a writer these days, I haven’t come across an article that describes the current state of affairs in the publishing world more accurately than this one in the L.A. Times.
I love what I do. And I recognize that the publishing industry is quite different from 30 years ago. There’s the “art” of writing and there’s the “business” of marketing and publicity that successful authors participate in.
I don’t agree with everything in this article; or,at least, this hasn’t been my experience…
The emphasis is on publishing, not on creating. On being a writer, not on writing itself. The publishing industry — always the nerdy distant cousin of the rest of media — has the same blockbuster-or-bust mentality of television networks and movie studios. There now exist only two possibilities: immediate and large-scale success, or none at all. There is no time to write in the cold, much less for 10 years.
It is, however, important to pay attention to such statements. A successful career as a writer involves more than writing. I’m convinced that my experience has been better than it has been for many other writers. I’m blessed (and lucky) to have been published by a smaller, non-profit, mission-driven publisher: Beacon Press. There is definitely still room for creating, for exploring, for focusing on issues that matter.
I’ll admit that I’ve thought about what a difference it would make in getting the message of my book out to more people if Oprah would give me a call. But there are many other ways to spread the word. Making a difference in the world requires flexibility and imagination. My publisher, publicist, lecture agent, friends, family, and other supporters have all helped.
With all the challenges writers face in the publishing world… I wouldn’t change a thing.