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Embracing change

3 March 2014

Kerry Wilkinson's blog, Self-publishing changed my life, but my publisher grew my sales, is a useful corrective to the view that publishing is dead and the counter-view that self-publishing is rubbish. Everything is changing very rapidly and that offers many new opportunities for writers, who need to navigate their way through the shifting sands.

Infuriating though it was been for many years to try to find a publisher, at least if you did manage to you'd feel that someone else was going to do the work on your behalf. But now it's even more difficult to find an agent to represent you, since publishers are being so choosy about what they buy that it's genuinely difficult for agents to place new writers' work. So, if you think you can do the work yourself, it does make sense to self-publish, although what's involved should not be underestimated.

From Robert McCrum in the Observer, there's a sad story of two authors, Rupert Thomson and Joanna Kavanna, who used to make a decent living out of being writers but don't do so any longer. These are the kind of authors who have had the rug pulled from under them, when all they wanted to do was spend their rest of their life writing. But so much has changed in recent years and there's no way in which a changed world owes them a living. Their publishers may not be able to sell their work any more, so their agents will eventually find it difficult to represent them.

This is the other side of the coin from successes like Hugh Howey and Kerry Wilkinson. Embracing change and making the new possibilities work for you is not something every author can achieve.