By Maggie McVay Lynch
Our world seems to be moving faster, and that isn’t just my age talking. The technology cycle has shrunk from 18 months to seven months in the past decade. That means a software update, a new piece of hardware, or even a new entry in the market comes every seven months. With those kinds of changes it is easy to feel that you can’t keep up.
|Maggie McVay Lynch|
is also impacting publishing in a big way. We’ve already seen how e-books have changed publishing. Now close to 50% of all e-books published in the U.S. are self-published or small press titles. Fifty percent! That is incredible and frightening. The number of books produced every year has grown tenfold in the past decade--from about 50,00 to over 500,000 new titles every year. Everyone, traditional and independent publishers are competing with a vengeance. They are lowering prices. They are cutting print runs. Some are even cutting print contracts for anyone who hasn’t already proven her books sell well. But here's the thing, NO ONE knows what works in this new environment. Everyone is experimenting.
Just when you think you have the system figured out it changes. Agent or not? Contract or not? Free books or not, and for how long? Low price or regular price? How many books a year do you need to do to get anywhere—traditionally or self-published? Whatever the answer was two years ago is not the answer today. Whatever the answer is today will not be the answer two years from now. It is changing… and quickly.
At this point some writers simply give up. It’s too hard. It’s too scary. It’s too time consuming to keep on top of it. So what do you do? You band together with others so that one person doesn’t have to know everything. Business people know that teams bring together a variety of talents and a good team fits the adage: “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.” You need people on your team who know different things than you do, people you can trust and work with for your entire career. Traditional publishing has always been a team effort—editors, cover designers, blurb writers, marketers, schedulers, technologists. Independent publishing needs to follow the same model. It is no longer self-publishing. To survive it needs to be team publishing.
Team publishing is where you decide what you do well AND what you have time to do, then delegate the rest—either through paid work or trades. Team publishing can be authors joining together to share some of the burdens. Those teams range from marketing teams to full publishing cooperatives. Marketing teams agree to always share the marketing burden, to always cross promote each other, to experiment together and to share knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. Publishing cooperatives, like Windtree Press and Book View Café, bring authors together to publish under a common press name. They also share the burdens and the knowledge of how to format, edit, do covers, and distribute. Members might swap editing for cover design, or marketing coordination for formatting, or purchase shared services from a virtual assistant at a discount, or simply hold training sessions to help all members.
To keep up in today's publishing arena, find yourself a team. Make sure the members are diverse. If they are all like you it isn't helpful. Then set up how you will work together. Commit to the long haul together. Yes, it's hard work but all of you will be better for it. Keep learning. Keep researching. Keep moving ahead even when you don't have all the answers. The team that can stay together and remain committed will do more than survive, they will thrive.
Maggie Lynch has never missed a chance to learn something new. With degrees in psychology, counseling, computer science, and education she has had opportunities that have taken her around the world, including Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Her current publishing credits include five non-fiction books, a number of science fiction short stories, and seven novels. Now able to spend full time journeying into her imagination, Maggie writes romance and science fiction under the name Maggie Jaimeson, and young adult fantasy under the name Maggie Faire. You can find her at http://maggielynch.com