Publishing in the Digital Age: an Old industry Learns New Tricks

Have you ever wanted to be a writer? If you are over 40, you might recall the days when getting published was a near impossible dream. 

Have I got great news for you: waking up in the 21st century, you will find that getting published is not so impossible anymore. A lot has changed in the industry and in the world in general. 

In particular, three realities of the digital age have shifted the balance of publishing power from the large corporation to the individual writer.


More involvement in the creative process

There was a time when aspiring authors sent words and images off to a faceless publishing house with nothing more than a faint hope that the final product vaguely resembled the original idea. Today, that is no longer the case.

Writers have a lot more say in matters such as layout and format. With consumer accessible software and services such as Pages and Google Docs, it is possible for writers and publishers to collaborate on the details without leaving the comfort of home and office. The technology that enables instant, remote collaboration enables the author to have a lot more creative input.

This is especially important for specialized projects with a lot of visual content. Though paper publishing is far from dead, it is definitely on the decline. Savvy publishers are repurposing those resources for specialized projects such as year books for schools.

Memorybook Publishing is a great example of a company that has turned the decline of paper into a specialized asset. They not only offer professionally designed templates, but provide the user with the necessary tools to completely design the look and feel of the project. This creative flexibility is a new and welcome trend in the publishing world.


Participation in marketing

Many authors will tell you that writing the great American novel is a lot easier than selling it. After pouring all that blood, sweat, and tears into those 30,000 words that will make you rich and famous, you send it off to a publisher and just hope and wait… and wait… and hope… But today, social media has provided new tools that allow a writer to participate in the marketing process.

Twitter and Facebook are no longer just for blasting out photos of what you had for lunch. Social media is about sharing important milestones and events to people who personally care about you, or who find your insights useful. You might also use specialized discussion forums and chat rooms to market your work. Always check the rules before posting. More information on how writers can use social media as a marketing tool can be found here.


Skip the publisher altogether

The main reasons to have a publisher at all is for the use of their printing press, marketing dollars, and distribution network. But if you are specifically writing an ebook or audiobook, you don’t need a printing press. If you are well connected and have internet marketing chops, you don’t need those marketing dollars either.

You have everything you need to get your books into the two biggest electronic bookstores in the world: Amazon and Apple iBooks. 

Advances in the publishing industry have made it almost trivially easy to write, edit, publish, distribute, and market your own work. There are far fewer contractual issues to deal with and almost all of the proceeds go to the writer.

But remember, it is only easy compared to what it used to be. If it required no real effort and there were no pitfalls to avoid, everyone would be doing it.