I was recently sent a troubling article titled From Bestseller to Bust: Is This the End of an Author's Life by a client. The article portrays a few authors which have seen past success but are now struggling. In essence, it outlines the anxiety many writers are facing due to the transition within the publishing industry.
My response to the client is as follows:
I've been closely watching for the last few years as the publishing industry heads toward changes. Similar info to this has made the rounds on LinkedIn where there is a variety of discussions across vanity, indie, self-publishing, marketing, cover, and every other aspect of the publishing industry.
Comparing all info, I have concluded that the major six traditional publishers are cutting back on advances because of the shift to e-books and the massive amount of them flooding the market currently. They have partnered with vanity presses (give me six grand and I'll do all the work types) in order to supplement their losses which has damaged trust and made many authors flee to self-publishing like smashwords, amazon, etc. As a result, the self-published authors have to fight harder through any means necessary to get noticed; thus, flooding social networking tools (twitter, g+, facebook, goodreads, etc.) with promotional efforts while creating a massive amount of free works. Some of these free works are hideous which has created a few new catagories within the publishing industry (beta-readers, proofers, reviewers, networkers, etc.). Everyone has become their own editor, proof-reader, and cover creator. Some can pull it off, others cannot.
From what I understand, aggressive marketing is necessary across all avenues (networking, self-pub platforms like amazon, etc.) to get the word out because the internet is flooded with creatives tweaking works in order to get noticed when bigger names throw their works out as self-published. There is also a trend where some authors are attacking others by purchasing the work, leaving bad reviews, and directing the reader to read the attacking party's works instead. That can easily backfire because (1) one-star ratings cause curiosity and (2) many readers are ignoring five-star ratings because they know most of them are from family/friends/paid reviewers.
In essence, the change can benefit or kill a work/career. It all depends on the care placed into packaging/marketing/promo/
network ventures and killer motivation while fighting for space on a steep learning curve alongside everyone else. : /
The authors who have already branded themselves as a household name won't have to worry so much. They've already arrived, parked their books on shelves within homes, and have hooked their readership base. That's not to say they have no anxiety. Pirating can damage them; yet, may be beneficial to emerging authors. Now, some say pirating will only hurt a new author. Others argue that readers want the author's work; thus, they've found a way to get it for free which signals that the work is sought after. Let the piraters spread the stolen work in order to get the author's name out there.
That's one way to look at it. Another is that the work may be ripped off, expanded, and resold by someone before it goes viral. Is that a 'what if' that any author wants to face? As a ghostwriter, I can easily say that it is jarring to see my work with another author's name attached.
As a Langley's Lovelies author, I write romance and erotica short stories under BS Dolphin. I also ghostwrite and edit works of varying lengths for select clients along with reviewing and mentoring fellow authors whom I've connected with on Linked In. I fill in the gaps by promoting my own works. If you have a moment, check us out at Langley's Lovelies.