Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Excellent Piece on e Books by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Whoa! Let’s All Just Take A Deep Breath…

May 15th, 2012 / Author: LibbyFischerHellmann

I’m frustrated. A little angry. But most of all, opinionated (Yeah, I know.. what else is new?)

Over the past few days people have been chattering about a couple of articles dealing with authors and publishing. One is a New York Times story about best-selling authors now being told to publish more than one book a year.

The other is a breezy analysis from Forbes which basically says that anyone with a good brand can become a successful author.

At first I saw these articles as the antithesis of each other, exploring both the opportunity and the curse of the digital revolution. But then I realized they actually were the mirror image of each other. Or more accurately, cause and effect. Bottom line: the two articles reinforce an inherent paradox. A Digital Catch-22.

The New York Times article examines how best-selling authors, many of them crime fiction authors, are now being forced to double-down on product. Authors like Lee Child and Lisa Scottoline are now expected to write more than one novel a year. Whether it’s a short story (in Lee’s case) or a second novel (in Lisa’s), Big Publishing is requiring more product. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Michael Connelly has been doing this for years. Lee Goldberg, too. And, of course, Joe Konrath. More power to them. They are amazing writers. Most of us aren’t.

The Forbes article discusses how writers are increasingly interacting with readers through social marketing and working hard to create their brand. The key sentence for me was: “If someone writes well and is skillful about how to build his or her brand, incredible things can happen.“

Hold on. Not so fast.

Incredible things? Well, maybe. Financial success? Perhaps. But what about the phrase “writes well” which the Forbes article kind of tossed off? What about the quality?

for the rest go here: www.libbyhellmann.com/wp/

6 comments:

Richard S. Wheeler said...

She is right. The whole e-book field is so choked with crap, do-it-yourselfers and one-a-month authors, that people are resisting that stuff. Only 10 percent of downloaded Kindle content gets read! The Times piece is as off base as the Forbes. The swamp is sucking at the toes of established novelists, and they won't escape by writing more stories.

Good piece. Thanks for reprinting it.

Charlieopera said...

Libby (and many, many others) sure do belong in the company of amazing writers.

As to the rest of the publishing stuff (ebooks, etc)., forgetaboutit ... why make yourself crazy over this stuff? It is what it is (sort of like politics--which has exhausted me to the point I ignore it ... and am much happier doing so of late).

Pins and needles, needles and pins ...

WRITING FOR THE BRAND said...

Admittedly there's a lot of crap out there by we book-a-month scribblers. But there's just as much crap out there by more established writers. Dry as dust crap sandwiched between very expensive covers. Personally, I like the shake-up. Let's see how it settles.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Well, Mozart wrote some of his best symphonies in two weeks. But maybe that's the exception that proves the rule. Whatever the case, Kindle content buyers appear to be more cautious now than earlier, looking for material that won't disappoint.

Cullen Gallagher said...

That NYT article was so lacking in historical perspective that I wrote them a letter on Monday. Writing more than a book a year isn't anything new. The article also fails to acknowledge that prolific authors can also produce high quality books. Sure, some of the book-a-month stuff isn't very good, but a lot of the book-a-year stuff is garbage, too. Some people just know how to write well and write quickly.

WRITING FOR THE BRAND said...

I pick and choose pretty carefully, too, because my income as a book-a-month guy is limited and I'm feeding two dogs and a big-time beer habit. But you CAN choose well with Amazon's "Look Inside" option. You can usually tell if a book stinks if not by the very first sentence at least by the end of the second paragraph. And most do. Still, I find myself reading more and more and and generally getting a big kick out of the stuff I'm reading. Mostly old reprints but there's a lot of exciting new stuff out there, too. Problem is I find myself out reading under my spruce tree when I SHOULD be hammering away on whatever book-a-month I'm on! Speaking of which...