By Melinda Carroll
First, I have to apologize for completely missing my post two weeks ago. Don't feel bad Tracy, you at least wrote a little note.
And speaking of apologies, or the fights that occasionally lead to them, there is a pretty big one brewing right now (fight, not apology). Yesterday I read a NYT article by David Streitfeld (posted on FB by fellow ANWA member Donna Hatch-- thanks Donna!) about Amazon.com's new venture into publishing. The article states that Amazon is now "encouraging writers to cast aside their publishers" and publish directly through them-- both in physical and e-book format.
As you can imagine, publishers are not happy. They're worried that this new move by Amazon will do to publishers what the website has done to bookstores (like Borders, for example). Agents aren't thrilled either. The article states that if you're an agent, "Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out."
Amazon's reply to publishers' concerns? Streitfeld quotes Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon's top executives, as responding that with publishers, "it's always the end of the world. You could set your watch on it arriving." Grandinetti also says that "the only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity."
I think it's great that authors have more choices in their path to publishing, but the rush to take out the middle man concerns me. I have yet to EVER read a good book that didn't take a whole team to put together. Yes, the writer is the creator. But they are not always the best experts in editing and marketing their own work. They can't be. It's virtually impossible to read your own writing objectively. And we all can't be experts in everything. It's wise to utilize the knowledge and experience of those who've been working in the industry.
With this rush to publish, regardless of quality, are we just flooding the market with mediocre books? If it's easy, will authors stop striving for excellence? Will the craft and art of writing be lost to the bottom dollar?
I hope not. There are definitely great books out there that go the e-book and self-publishing route, so I know it's possible. I just think we have to make sure that cutting out the middle man isn't actually cutting out the very tools we need to make our stories great.
It will be interesting to see what happens as Amazon moves forward. It's definitely a crazy and exciting time to be a writer.