Trends

We Live in Amazing Times

I shared a table recently with six or seven others at a writers conference. The writer to my right (right?) leaned in my direction and directed a comment to me.

“Please tell me something encouraging about publishing now.”

Wow. Put me on the spot, why don’t you?

But I thought I understood. After all, we were a couple days into the conference. And, as these things go, this writer had made new friends, received valuable instruction and critique, and more. But she had also heard and learned a number of hard realities. “You need a platform,” of course. “Debut fiction is a tough sell right now.” “The market for Biblical fiction and historical fiction is extremely tight.” And so on.

So, I recognized the shock and pain behind her question. And, happily, I had just taken a bite of food, so I could stall for time while I chewed. Eventually, though, I had to put down my fork and attempt an answer. I said something like the following (off the top of my head, remember):

We live in amazing times. Writing and publishing haven’t seen such momentous changes—and possibilities—since the invention of movable type. And this era of change is probably bigger even than that. It’s certainly happening much faster.

It’s never been easier to write. It’s never been easier to publish. It’s probably as hard as ever to be paid for your writing and to sell a book and to gain readers, but there have never been so many ways to do that. You can write longhand or on a typewriter or on a computer. You can have your iPad read back your copy to you. You can set up a blog in minutes. You can read your original poetry on your own YouTube channel. You can buy a domain name and launch a website. You can create email newsletters for your tribe. Your self-published novel can be one of the four thousand ebooks uploaded daily to Amazon. You can record and upload your own audiobook. And all of that just scratches the surface.

I think I even mentioned that her presence at a writers conference was a fairly recent innovation. A few decades ago writers conferences were rare and expensive compared to the many options a writer has today. (I was a writer for fifteen years before I even heard of writers conferences—and, yes, I am old enough to make that claim.)

The writer’s journey is a long obedience in an uphill direction (to revise Nietzsche and Eugene Peterson). It can be exciting and intense. It can also be demanding and discouraging. It’s not for the fainthearted. But whatever you write, however and whyever, this is an amazing time to be a writer.

 

Leave a Comment

The Automatic Writer

My coffee maker is on a timer. My thermostat is programmed to different temperatures at night and by day. My computer screen even dims to a softer hue as the day progresses. I try to automate everything I can, believing that the fewer tasks I have to remember every day, …

Read More

Change, We’ve Seen You Before

Change always seems to occur faster than you think but often slower than you think. Most things in society or life are at the same time dramatically different than they were a few years ago, but eerily similar to fifty years ago. If you are an observer or participant in …

Read More

Never Assume Biblical Literacy

It wasn’t long ago that a reference to a Biblical character or a Bible verse would be widely understood without explanation. That is no longer true. Researcher George Gallup said “We revere the Bible, but we don’t read it.” This was recently illustrated in our local newspaper in an article …

Read More

Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff?

Author Richard Carlson and his 1996 book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff encouraged a generation to put priorities in order and prevent someone from missing the forest for the trees. I am afraid many aspiring authors are doing just the opposite by not worrying about the big stuff either. Everything …

Read More

Marketing to Younger Readers

A challenge for book promoters is trying to market to a narrow group of people and discovering they are not easily distinguished one from another.  People are born every day and there is no definable space between demographic markets. Generational identifiers are not scientific, but arbitrary for marketing convenience sake. …

Read More

The Year of Kindness

This past year, my colleagues in Christian publishing have treated me with immense kindness. Thank you. I wish I could say I have witnessed the same kindness in other arenas. If you follow current events even as a casual observer, I don’t need to recount the bitterness and rancor over …

Read More

A Year in Review – A Look at 2017

I find it a healthy exercise to review the past as it can be encouraging to note progress and look at the foundation for the future. The Industry Our industry continues to create tremendous books but few new ones “break out.” It is hard to gain the attention of readers …

Read More

Our Rapidly Changing Culture

Every year Beloit College creates a “Mindset List” which reflects the culture that the incoming Freshman class have grown up experiencing. It helps their faculty know how to relate to these incoming students. Click here for this year’s Mindset List.

I download this list every year and read it with increasing wonder at the speed of our cultural changes.

The college graduating class of 2014 was born in 1992. Think about that for a second. If you are a writer, you can no longer assume that your audience will understand your cultural references. In a mere six years, today’s 18-year-olds will be adults…possibly with families and jobs and children…they will be reading your books and articles.

And you will only be six years older than you are now.

Read More