Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Great Ongoing Scarcity Hoax Rant

My new short story, BETTER TO BITE, coming out from Muse It Up March 15th, pre-order here for 20% off until then!

Here's my rant:

The publishing world continues to change daily. E-books have destroyed all of the old ways. And yet, and yet, some of the publishers, especially the big traditional publishers, plus some of the (physical) bookstores and some of the agents continue to insist that it is 1982, or earlier, perhaps 1882.

One of the reasons for scarcity is the old belief that readers hate to read and will only real a very limited amount of books. Newsflash! Readers love to read. Their limited reading has been self-imposed by a publishing world that again, because it was only print, could only provide a limited amount of titles.

Plus, because in the old days books had to sell enough to pay for print runs, the old-fashioned publishers (and agents) often rejected and still do reject new untried new authors--the authors who could not prove a track record. There were plenty of reasons to reject, and very few to accept. Often, perhaps even usually, it has little to do with the quality of the work, and much more to do with whether the publisher thought it would appeal to a large enough group of readers to pay for the print run.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with short stories. For decades, publishers have insisted that the huge majority of readers don't read short stories. Another newsflash! Readers love short stories, when they can buy them cheap and not as an expensive hardback anthology or expensive printed magazine.

The one annoying thing about all of this? The scarcity is now a hoax! It no longer exists! But I hate when new authors quit writing because their writings don't fit a narrow band of old time traditional publisher requirements.

Having written this rant, I've realized that the annoying hidebound practices of the old-style publishers, agents, and etc. are truly the last gasps of a world no longer relevant.

And that most of all, I'm very grateful and happy with this new world, both as a reader and a writer. I love having oodles of great and different stuff to read, all lengths, all genres. I love how the wonderful publishers of my novels, short stories and articles have published and sold my wide range of different writings. I love the synergy and energy and most of all the abundance of this new world.

So, dear readers, what do you think? I believe we're now in a world of glorious plenty--which brings with it a different set of problems--do you? What's your experience?


Jim Murdoch said...

I suppose it depends on what you like to read and why you read. I, still, don’t have “oodles of great and different stuff to read” unless I lean on traditionally-published books. I look at the bulk of writers producing e-books and hardly anyone is producing anything that would get classified as General, let alone Literary, fiction. There are exceptions—I’m one of them—but I just despair when I see what people are churning out flooding the marketplace and making it so much harder to find the kind of stuff I’m interested in reading. Maybe I’m a snob. So be it. I grew up reading great writers—in my late teens I went through a phase of only reading work by Nobel Prize winners—and it’s ruined me in many respects. So, when the odd e-book comes along that meets my exacting standards I’ll jump at it—Andrew McCallum Crawford is a short story writer whose praise I’m happy to sing—but it’s not as if I’m short of stuff to read. The thing is I’ve never regarded reading as entertaining or even relaxing. That’s what the telly’s for. I want the books I read to be meaningful. I like my TV to be meaningful too but I’m not so fussy there.

Conda Douglas said...

Jim, great to see you here again with your pithy and interesting comments. It's fascinating to me the wide range of readers out there everywhere and I often need a reminder of how we are different--viva la difference!
I also believe that in time literary fiction will be more easily available--and that will change everything!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Thoughtful post. I am hopeful that given more choices, readers will indeed read more and sample what they have not read. Having the classics free has inspired several of my friends to try one from the "masters."

Conda Douglas said...

Yup, Kathy, it can't but help readers read more widely and take more "reading" chances.