Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Author's Role

I’ve heard people lament that today’s authors are not of the same caliber as Fitzgerald or Hemingway. Maybe we aren’t, but Fitzgerald and Hemingway didn’t have to publicize their own books, their publishers considered that to be their job. They could afford to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until every word was perfect. Today’s authors are not afforded that same leisure in which to pore over every word. Today’s writers are busy writing blogs, updating websites, guest blogging, plugging their book on Twitter and Facebook, hand-selling their books to Indie bookstores as well as the big-box bookstores. When do they have time to pore over every word they write? Especially when they are expected to write another book or two by a time certain.

Your Work Doesn’t End with a Book

It is clear that these days authorship no longer ends when the writing is done. It seems that being a writer has become harder today than it was say, fifty years ago. Then, you wrote a book, found an agent, signed the contract, and returned to your typewriter.

Today, an author’s work continues on to include activities that publishers once handled. Today’s author has to be a skilled negotiator, a talented publicist, able to juggle not only a day job, but go to signings, conferences, and retreats. Then there is the problem of when does today’s author find the time to write her second or third contracted books? Today’s author knows that a missed deadline may spell the end to her relationship with either her agent and/or her publisher.

Heaven forbid that the author doesn’t sell well. Not selling well is the death knell for that author. Never mind that she doesn’t have the wherewithal, either financially or time wise, to do all the publicity needed to become an author with good numbers. Too bad for her.

Is There a Solution?

Probably not for the author. The publisher is trying to cut costs so they seem to be cutting back on editors and publicity. Who suffers from that decision? The author, of course, but then so does the publisher and reader.

Many authors are seeing the solution to the publishers’ problems in the emerging e-book market. That’s good for the publishers because books are cheaper for them to produce as e-books. It’s not any better for the author who is still expected to publicize her own book regardless of the form it takes.

So no solution for the author is in sight yet in the ever-evolving world of publishing. Perhaps some day authors will be allowed to do what do they do best - write.

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