This is a new venture for me, as my site has been used primarily for displaying art up to now. The publication of my new non-fiction book “Your Turn To Find The Hammer” now in the Kindle e-book format, means a “Writer’s Blog” will be more appropriate to handle any social media comments or discussion.
Mind you, few readers ever contact writers (when did you last do that?), but in this age of social media and the ease of sending messages back and forth, this tradition is changing. I will use this blog with occasional entries, just to keep my hand in, so to speak.
February 25, 2018
Publishing industry’s business plan is broken
When I had my first non-fiction book published in 1968, it was a simpler time in Canada. I had been fired from my job as Marketing Manager, New Product Development at Salada Foods, in a corporate purge just before Kellogg’s took them over. I would have been fired anyway, as I had almost completed what would become “The Plot To Make You Buy” McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1968, an expose of what I thought was the exploitation of consumers through a wide range of tactics commonly used in the days before consumer regulations took hold in the late 1960s.
I had plenty of time to complete my manuscript as I made up my mind to try my hand at becoming a professional freelance writer. What happened was sheer luck and good timing, although I had no control over either. I sent the unsolicited manuscript to two publishers, one of which was McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Within days someone phoned and told me they “loved my book and people all around the office are reading bits of it.” Would I please come in and talk about it. A contract was offered, along with a small advance, and I was on my way.
Nothing like that could possibly happen today, which is why my latest book “Your Turn To Find The Hammer” has been published as a Kindle e-reader edition. Publishers refuse to accept unsolicited manuscripts unless you have an agent. You cannot get an agent unless you have already been published – a perfect “Catch 22” dilemma.
The so-called “dead tree” editions present publishers with enormous economic risks, so their reluctance to take gambles is understandable. Everyone is looking for the next J.K Rowling and Harry Potter. Their socio-economic target group is literally dying off, as millennials and those coming along behind them, read less and less, and get their news and creative materials online through streaming services and various e-reading companies. Amazon is eating their lunch as margins fall and reliance on blockbuster projects means younger writers find it harder and harder to gain a foothold. The publishing industry has increasingly merged into a few powerful corporations whose fiduciary responsibility is to its shareholders, as it should be in our current economic system, and solutions are hard to suggest. Government subsidies are hardly the answer, although advocates try to make the point that “culture” is not a commodity like any other. I have no solutions. We are in a time of dramatic changes to our dominant social paradigm, and Amazon Kindle e-reader editions are one solution. Stay tuned.