Digital Age Authors & The Ugly Truth About "The Good Old Days" of Publishing

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Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht.

I travel all over the country to teach writers how to create a brand and build a platform, and it never feels like work because I love preparing each of you for success. Yet, every audience has at least one (usually at least three) of a certain type of writer— the one who resents having to use social media. And they almost always sit in a spot where they can glare at me and interrupt and tell me I have the brain of a monkey who’s head was crushed in Wal Mart’s automatic doors.

Hey, can’t please everyone.

I Didn’t Make the Rules

Every industry has been modernizing since the advent of, I dunno…BUSINESS. Farmers relied on horses and plows until a seriously cool invention, THE TRACTOR. Scribes were a tad ticked with the invention of the printing press, and anyone who worked in an office in the 80s eventually had to learn to use a copy machine, then a computer.

Time marches forward and so does technology. Griping about it just wastes time and creative energy, and the “Good Old Days” weren’t all that great, at least not for most writers.

Ugly Truth About “The Good Old Days”

The old paradigm of publishing resembled a Banana Republic economy. About 5% made boatloads of money. Another small fraction made a decent living, but most scraped by and never made enough money to write full-time. As of 2004, only one out of NINE traditionally published authors ever saw a second book in print and 93% of all books published (traditional and non-traditional) sold less than a thousand copies (per Book Expo of America statistics).

Also, traditional publishing (sans social media) had a LOT of limiting factors.

Genre Hostages

First, if a writer experienced success in one genre, this writer was required to write that genre until he burned out or died. Why? The only way an author could create a brand was the books. Readers followed the genre.

Yet, when an author builds a social media platform, the author becomes the brand. Audiences follow the writer and his/her voice. Since they feel they “know” the author, they are far more likely to read out of genre. Maybe they’d never read a historical romance, but they love the writer so much, they’ll give HERS a try.

Age Discrimination

In the old paradigm, age was also a huge limitation. Agents were hesitant to sign up a seventy-year-old writer for a three-book deal. Yet, this doesn’t jive with reality.

Boomers reinvented youth in the 1960s and economic success in the 1980s; they are not about to do their senior years by someone else’s formula. According to a 2005 survey by Merrill Lynch, more than 3 in 4 boomers say they have no intention of seeking traditional retirement. ~Microtrends, Mark Penn, page 30.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Ethan Prater

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Ethan Prater

A large percentage of writers have waited until the kids are out of the home and out of college to begin pursuing their dreams of being authors. They’re also writing books they’d like to read. Romance novels with a sixty-year-old protagonist finding love, not a twenty-two-year-old. Is traditional publishing ready to invest in older writers writing drastically different books?

Maybe. But if not? Now there are options. Seventy is getting younger every day and the emerging e-commerce marketplace doesn’t care how old we are or how many books we write.

Good is No Longer Good Enough

I recently finished an amazing business book by Bob Pritchett, and this particular segment stood out for me:

We live in a world of abundant, affordable quality. The days of getting ahead by doing a good job, building a good product (writing a good book), or providing a good service are over. Your business needs to be exceptional in some way, or it is doomed to drift forever on the sea of homogeneity. Fire Someone Today, Pritchett, page 195.

Can a writer survive just writing books? Sure, humans can also stay alive eating grasshoppers and doodlebugs (though I have not tested this theory).  I don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to do more than just survive. And, to be blunt, as the market shifts toward globalization and e-commerce, writers who don’t make the transition will eventually go extinct.

Just ask Martha. She used to work retail and refused to let go of carbon paper machines when taking credit card transactions. Word on the street is Martha was last seen eating grasshoppers.

The Steep Price of Stagnation

For the first time in human history, authors are making six and seven figures without New York’s involvement. More writers are able to write full-time because they’ve embraced innovation. When we just want to write books we hand off a lot of work to other people. This means a lot of people get paid before WE do.

In the traditional paradigm, an author makes about $1.07 (before taxes) on a $10 book. Why? Because the marketing department, sales department, literary agents, bookstores, and truck drivers don’t work for Skittles. Barnes & Noble is a business, not a charity, and they expect payment for placing our books on their shelves.

If we want to traditionally publish, we can. We just have to sell A LOT more books to make good money. How do we do this? We need a brand and a platform that is capable of driving sales. Jenny Lawson’s book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened was traditionally published and hit the NYT best-seller list.

But Jenny Lawson is also The Bloggess and her blog has roughly 2-3 MILLION visits a MONTH. She also rules Twitter. When she tried to hold a “Meet the Author”? The sheer volume of her fans crashed Goodreads.

THAT is a noble goal. ***Note to self: Must crash Goodreads.

If we indie or self-publish? Readers don’t pop out of the ether. For the moment, traditionally published authors do have an advantage of being in bookstores. But, as I mentioned, a lot of other people need to be paid to make this happen. Indies do enjoy an advantage of making more money per book, but we need to step into a lot of those “outsourced” roles that gobble up the traditional author’s royalty check.

Yes, it’s more work, but it can be fun work. Selling more books means more money. More money means we get to do what we love for a living. 

I’ve worked many years to create a system of building an on-line brand in a way that is fun, simple, and leaves plenty of time to write. WANA methods are also resistant to any major shifts in technology (changes in algorithms, Facebook going the way of MySpace).

I’m NOT a technophile and have almost no clue what most of the buttons on my dashboard actually DO. I’m a writer and I want to write…until I am 110 and then I’ve left instructions to be cryogenically frozen and then defrosted in the future :D. I might even write Fifty Shades of Polydent just to embarrass my grandkids.

What are your thoughts? Are you an older writer who’s excited about the future? Do you like the idea of writing books you would like to read? Have you ever eaten a grasshopper and lived to tell the tale?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).


Since it was such a HUGE success and attendees loved it, I am rerunning the Your First Five Pages class SATURDAY EDITION. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off. Yes, editors REALLY can tell everything they need to know about your book in five pages or less. Here’s a peek into what we see and how to fix it. Not only will this information repair your first pages, it can help you understand deeper flaws in the rest of your manuscript.

My new social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.

WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU. If you REGISTER NOW, you get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE (and all recordings) for $119 (regularly $149). Sign up today, because this special won’t last and seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.


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  1. So glad I found this blog! I’m finishing up edits on my first book (first one that wasn’t ghostwritten for someone else,anyway) and trying to decide which way to jump next. Info like this is super helpful.

  2. Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.

  3. All very well said and I agree we need to embrace the digital revolution. Saying that I am an early adopter of all things technical. Thanks for this. There is a lot to think about for a new author

  4. Kristen, I found out the hard way about being a “genre hostage;” my first two traditionally-published books were historical romances which did well. When I switched genres to fantasy, I was essentially thrown to the back of the line and my earlier success had no bearing. Love the new paradigm with being independent and basing my brand on me, not my genres.

  5. Yours is always the concise, cogent argument, Kristen, and on this topic, there is no one better. Your vision is crystal clear and because you live from a generous heart, you let us see with you. Also, congratulations on your post for Huffington Post, so well-deserved.

    1. Hey, KM…it’s me Denise Parsons from your WANA class. I agree with you, and didn’t know about the Huff Post info…nice to see you, hope you are doing well.

      1. Hey, Denise! *waves* Here’s the link to the post: Doing okay here; hope the same for you.

  6. I haven’t eaten a grasshopper, but I have eaten a witchety grub.

    Opportunities abound right now for authors, especially for authors with rights to their backlists. I’m curious where this will lead. Will the publishing market remain as accessible as it is now or is there another change coming that will restrict some of the freedoms indie authors now have? Will traditional publishers wake up to their value-added opportunity to attract overloaded authors by taking over more of the non-writing end of the business? What’s next?

  7. Fifty Shades of Polydent! You should write that book!

    Seriously, it is important, even if you do pay people to do certain tasks for you, to know how the system works, at least basically. Otherwise, how will you know if they’ve done a good job.

    Great post. Things change. We’ve all got to adapt.

    Also, this post made me want to buy some Skittles. 😉

  8. Good post. It’s good to get the scoop from an experienced blogger, writer, and mentor!

  9. Fifty Shades of Polydent! Ha! I would totally read that!

    New York would never suit me. None of my book ideas are in the same genre. But they all have my “voice” of being open-minded. 🙂

  10. Kristen,

    I’m on the young end of the Boomer gen (I have to say that or I’ll sound really old) and I’m totally doing what I’ve always wanted to do but took forever to get around to because I was taught NOT to believe in myself but get a REAL JOB. Which luckily I loved too (children’s librarian) That career also led to such fun moments as a Portland TV interview in which the darling young reporter asked me, “What’s a nice lady like you doing writing erotic romance?” Snort. What can I say, I have an innocent face.

    I’m now writing romance full time. Woo-hoo! Never too late to fulfill that dream, kids.

    For now, my heroes/heroines are younger, although I’m thinking they may age with me … one of these days, as in when I’m really old. I’m not yet. I’m … euww, middle-aged. But, I’m still 27 in my head, so it’s not that much of a stretch. That’s the great thing about us Boomers–parts of us will never catch up with our bodies.

    Cathryn Cade

  11. Wonderful, and funny post. Thank you for your insights. LOVE the lead picture.

  12. The most horrid trend from NY now are those “e-book-only” deals.
    All their usual restrictions and no paper books in return.
    Avoid these deals like the plague!

    • Diana Stevan on August 30, 2013 at 10:15 am
    • Reply

    What a great post! I feel you were talking to me Kristin and underlining what I also believe. As an older writer (and a grandparent) I’ve been pursuing my writing dreams since I retired. I dabbled before that but my practical nature took me in another direction. Making a guaranteed living and raising a family were paramount, so the writing took a back seat. However, I’m a believer in not giving up no matter what age. A story is a story is a story.

    So, as long as I have a breath left, I’m going to keep churning out those words. I have a few books done and am standing at the crossroads wondering which route to take – traditional or self-publishing. Meanwhile I’m also blogging, building my brand 🙂 and enjoying the ride.

  13. Okay, so I’m going to diverge just a little itty bit but still trot alongside your train of thought…keeping up with the times isn’t just for authors. It’s also for most any other type of professional writer.

    I’m in the baby stages of writing two books. As in, they each have less than 6,000 words to them and I’m still learning how to plot. But I am a professional copywriter who didn’t get with the times until last year by building my writer’s website, launching my blog and connecting on Twitter. I fought it for a good long while, but I finally wised up and jumped online. And it’s been invaluable in both areas of my writing life.

    Instead of depending on a resume and word-of-mouth to find work, I turned myself into a business, including my own online presence. It’s landed me some really great copywriting gigs and connected me to a world of online support to push my creative writing forward. And when I’m ready to publish, I’ll be better prepared regardless of which publishing avenue I choose to walk.

    Writers need online platforms. We need to be responsible for making our own voice heard and for putting our own work out there. And we need to be flexible and open to new ways to do it.

  14. Another fantastic post!!!

  15. Thanks for your special recognition of the Boomers. Great Post.

  16. Reblogged this on Vampire Syndrome Blog and commented:
    Kristen Lamb aims and hits the bulls-eye, once again!

  17. I started writing seriously at 50. The main reason I started down this road was I wanted to write books that I enjoyed reading. I am a bit picky about what I enjoy reading. And, for the record, grasshoppers are best when dipped in chocolate.;-)

  18. I personally love that the publishing industry is changing for authors and that we have lots of options. I love meeting people and think of social media as an outlet for that. I’ve also met amazing people who helped me avoid huge mistakes with my writing career.

  19. You say ” As of 2004, only one out of NINE traditionally published authors ever saw a second book in print and 93% of all books published (traditional and non-traditional) sold less than a thousand copies (per Book Expo of America statistics).”

    If that is the case then I’m way ahead of the field Kristen. Since I left the traditional publishing world to become a self publisher, my books are selling consistently. One in particular has sold well over 5,800 copies. So I must be doing something right don’t you think? 🙂

  20. I’ve eaten ants. It was required as part of a forced HS team building exercise – out “something” program. Important note. Kill the sucker before eating ant bites in mouth hurt. Red ants do taste a bit like cinnamon. Black ants are just gross. I had a chance to eat a “kosher” locust but the person who came from a culture where they are eaten said they were undercooked and I decided no.

    I find our cultures attitude towards age offensive & shortsighted. It drives me crazy. My grandmother went to college & audited classes in her 80s. Id love to see more urban fantasy written with characters in my age group. That said I decided to write my stories with the characters probably in their 30s but since I’ve expanded the storyline and turned it into a series. So I may play with ages more.

    I’m on my… 5th career at 46. I love living at this time as so many options are open and skills from previous careers transfer over to new things I want to do. Each has been for me a logical step from the previous.

  21. When I organized the recreation time for teenagers at a church camp we sponsored, I had the boys eat grasshoppers (imitating John the Baptist). The video is so disgusting that it’s funny. But I have never tried them myself.
    Would you believe teenage girls volunteered to eat worms to help their teams catch the leaders in this competition? One of them sucked the worm in like a straw and it was squirming and the whole video sent one lady outside to vomit. Good times.
    I think I’ll stick to my yogurt and granola for lunch, though.
    I AM middle-aged and excited about the options open to me if I can’t convince an agent to take me traditionally. It’s an excellent time to be a writer.

  22. I agree that we’re wasting time to get frustrated with the changes in publishing. They are what they are, yet I hear whining from all sides–traditional and indie–about this, that, and other. However, we humans have been whiners since Adam said to Eve, “But I don’t want you to wear a fig leaf!!!” Tough cookies, Adam. Things change.

    It’s fine to get a little frustrated at times when things don’t work out, or when you’re learning a new trick, but eventually it’s “suck it up, buttercup” if you want to keep writing. 😀

    Great post, Kristen!

  23. I definitely am writing books I want to read. It’s funny, but your post reminded me of our honeymoon destination. I know, you’re probably thinking it’s odd, but hear me out. It was in the Caribbean. And the entire business was in the main open-air atrium space. They did everything by carbon copy. Why? Well, simply, the salt air would eat any machinery they put up there within a few months. So they *had* to do it old-school. But here’s the kicker. You know how we knew about the resort? A website. Social media, including twitter and facebook and travel agencies. Somewhere, someone in an office, protected from the salty, wet air, diligently worked to create an online representation of their brand, Because you can’t reach a tourist now without having a website with images of their spaces. I think this is how even traditionally published authors have to work too. You can go the ‘old-school’ route, but you still have to navigate the same waters as the indies to get noticed, and that requires a decent social media platform.

  24. I’d love to be up front and center in one of your classes. I’m definitely old school, but I’m perfectly willing to learn. It’s just that this old brain doesn’t seem to agree. If only I could get a grasp on social media! I used to be a perpetual student. I would’ve been happy to just stay in college my whole life and learn new things. Now I have days when working the TV remote is daunting.

  25. I am going to break my blogging holiday to re-blog this :0)

  26. Reblogged this on Catherine Johnson and commented:
    Food for thought but not a grasshopper

  27. Excellent post. I’m retired military now turned farmer and author. I’m over 40, and I write most of my characters in the 30-40 year old range because it’s what I know. I also jump from genre to genre so writing just one type of book would drive me nuts. I try my best to market my name as a brand, but when you live in the middle of nowhere, it gets tough. Social media has been my savior. I decided that I’d stay Indie despite meaning much more work for me, but the control of my product and the better paychecks makes it all worth it.

    K. Rowe

  28. I am new to blogging. Thanks for the great read. I am amazed by what you covered so quickly in this post. From Scribes to Machines, the Good Old Days, Genre Hostages (specialization), Age Discrimination, Boomers, and that Good is no Longer Good Enough. Very Interesting read. Thank you for sharing!

  29. Love this post. I amazed that since jumping into social media and self-pubbling how far I’ve come in the learning curve. And I love that I can write in all genres. I’ve written non-fiction historical pieces for magazines and on-line history sites and I love writing personal essays which are always a good writing challenge. It’s so rewarding to see them in print at traditional places, but my novel is out there in this new world, with its prequel coming soon. Ebooks and “real” books in stores. I just have to hustle. I get that I have to have a platform, but that’s easy. It’s all things history as I love teaching it to kids hands-on as much as I love writing about it to adults.

  30. Another side of it: traditionally-published authors still have to rush around publicizing themselves (“unless they’re John Grisham, and he complains about the PR budget too,” the saying goes) if they want to be noticed– or most likely be the 1 in 9 who gets another book. That may not have been true in a few generations back, but maybe because there were fewer non-Grisham types being published at all. Or because the lesser authors didn’t *have* many tools to move themselves up, and would have sold their first-born for them.

  31. Loved this post and the senior sign! My first book was published 3 months before I turned 60. Writing and social media keep me young and fit mentally. Also, now that my 39 year old protagonist’s 62 year old mother and I are the same age, Mom’s having way more fun in my latest release. Boomers rock!

  32. Everything that you have said makes sense to me.
    I don’t want to eat grasshoppers. Look what happened to John the Baptist and he only ate locusts…

  33. Kristen, I have never eaten a bug on purpose, although I am sure somewhere down the line, a few must have sneaked in. I would like to thank you for acknowledging my current situation. As a soon-to-be empty-nester, I am in the process of re-evaluating my life’s purpose and finding my passion. I have always been a writer but never felt worthy enough to share it with the world. But I do now and I am in the process of starting a small press publishing company. I have written a series of Children’s Picture Books and was told by a book consultant, that social media is my best friend! I just wrote my first blog yesterday and needed to find friends. I loved your blog and will continue to follow you! Thank you for being my first!

  34. A great post lending lots of promise to us older folk.I started writing at 60 to entertain my wife but found others enjoyed it too. I’ve just self published my fourth book with some help. I have to rely on the internet and social media for sales but though I wouldn’t glare at you, I do confess it’s hard.

    Twitter doesn’t let you follow people ad nauseum in order to be followed back and re-tweeted so there is a limit on the number of people to see a post, that’s despite having joined writers groups like ASMSG. I blog, I interview authors, I post to Facebook but still seem to be very limited. Maybe that’s a case of the quality of the books being less than I think or being of the wrong genre if there is such a thing.

    I’m certainly not anti progress or stuck in the past. I just don’t have the knowledge to go further on my own.

    1. David, I hate saying this because I feel like I am hawking a book. If you can, get my new book. It’s on Amazon in e-book and will be available in paper soon, so just keep posted. I wrote the book for WRITERS, particularly older and technophobic writers. I got ya covered ;).

  35. I hope to have first volume of 100 cartoons through createspace out soon and am at end stages. Most are from my blog or not yet posted for the blog. It seems it is very expensive to manufacture a book of 100 full color images. Create space will do it for $11, require $4 their profit and marketing and $2 royalty put selling price at $17. Seems steep but my book is not a mere comic book. I can try to sell myself and local printers will do a very top notch production at $16- $20 per book. I have looked at alternative indie presses and their elements of creation and process puts book at $35 which is ridiculous – I would not pay such a price. My point is that these people continue to bug me with all kinds of dopey assertions that the price indicates quality and will not inhibit sales. Of course they are nuts. What do you think?

    1. There is a price point that will hurt us. For a book with so many illustrations I don’t think you need to go rock-bottom, but anything over $20 might be limiting your market.

  36. Hard to hear but so true. I’m a 64 year-old intravert who is self-publishing my first novel. It has been a struggle to learn the social media tools, but the opportunity to have my work read by other than friends and family, and get good feedback, is worth it.

  37. I’m a young writer, but I still want to write a book that might not be the norm. I created a female YA protagonist that isn’t whiny or pining obsessively over a boy. If self-publishing is the only way to get this type of character in the marketplace then I will take my medicine and embrace more social media.

  38. I don’t have much to add to previous comments except to state the obvious. I know why people who don’t want to do social media would attend a social media session. They come to object. I’ve also heard male writers object because the agents/editors at a conference are overwhelmingly female, which of course explains why they aren’t asking for his submission. *sigh*

    • t.i.n.a. on August 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm
    • Reply

    Great info – as always – Kristen! I have a friend who also “just wants to write” and has been very reluctant to get online and build her online presence (right now I’ve been able to convince her to submit to a small contest solely online). Pulling teeth, I tell ya.

    Also, never ate a grasshopper (my father did, though) and my better-half has eaten a snail, fresh from the garden! (he was about 4) 🙂

  39. I’m part of the “baby boom” generation and without a doubt I’ve been waiting my entire life for the technology available today for writing and marketing. It isn’t always easy to keep up and I’m still learning when it comes to social media, but “bring it on.”

  40. Hi, got here from Just made it under the wire.

    I’m currently writing a book that I love to read. I like the characters and their conversations. Unfortunately, I’m a pantser, and just recently came to the realization that it was a bunch of words in a row, which some people might find interesting, but it was emphatically not a novel. Just recently I’m pruning and organizing to get it into at least the semblance of a novel. There was a novel structure panel I took at When Words Collide recently that is helping.

    The people pining for the good old days haven’t thought it through. It wasn’t really so long ago that writing consisted first of preparing your materials, and that meant taking care of the sheep and geese, and making your own ink. I think we are still in the DC-3 age of computers and the internet. This typing thing is a transitional technology.

  41. I’m definitely an older author. I have one YA paranormal/mystery, “Nightmares”, published by MuseItUp Publishing, a small publisher in Canada. They are great by the way. I just finished a sequel to that book and it is with my editor now. I’m also working on a book similar to what you mentioned. “The Rose Stalker” is the story of a 55 year old woman (I’m almost 63) who’s husband dies and now she must start over but then someone begins stalking her. It’s a romance/mystery.

    With all that said, I have been building my name as a brand since I purchased and used your first books to help me with social media back in April of 2012. I’m not very good at it and I plan on purchasing your new book very soon because I’m sure there will be more tips in there that can help me get better at it.

  42. In large part I believe in the vocation of writing and write for writings sake ” to express the inexpressible”

  43. The wheels have come off

  44. It’s the best time eveah to be a writer, if, and it’s a big if, we are prepared to do the work.

    You’re right, we can no longer just write, and reasonably expect that to be enough. We are professionals, and to call ourselves professionals we must, if not be proficient in all aspects of our profession, then know where to find other professionals who are.

    Never tried grasshopper. If I have to to survive, I will but up until then, I’ll stick to other non-dairy forms of protein!

    • Schuyler Thorpe on August 31, 2013 at 1:04 am
    • Reply

    Caught between a choice of being screwed by the publishing industry and dying penniless as a self-published author, I’ll take the second option please.

    1. It’s the old “your soul or money” dilemma 😛

  45. Great post! Hope to utilize this insight during my journey. I’ve pushed off writing for years but now focusing on it again. Funny you mention The Bloggess, I just found her blog about a week ago. Good stuff. 🙂

  46. A friend of mine ate a roasted grasshopper in Mexico. They taste like chicken. Everything always does.

  47. Independently publishing is the future.

  48. Kristen, many people I ask get excited when I say i’m a published fiction author (telling them I also work for Oxford Uni as a scientist excites them a lot less), then I mention that I’m self-published, and the excitement is totally gone. I think there’s still a stigma for our kind, getting published by big six is still considered like winning a lottery ticket. But i think it’s changing, the last LBF there was the whole big zone the indies, including the seminar room and a lounge with afterdrinks every day 🙂

    Yes, those who has not done it yet, BUY Kristen’s book, it’s beyond awesome :)))

  49. Reblogged this on Belly-up! and commented:
    Next time someone asks me why I self-published my “masterpiece in the rare and subtle art of OMFG!”, I will link them to this article! Whew. That should add years to my life. (Thanks!)

  50. I won’t even be able to publish until I’m 65 (ONE more year) because of arcane rules of the US Government, of all things.

    So? I started blogging a year ago, am just completing my first writing challenge (Web Serial Writing Month – which I have conveniently extended a few days so I can finishe MY goals), and writing fiction almost every day.

    It is a heady world out there, and the future is us.

    Frankly, I love all those gloom and doom people, and the traditionally published sky-is-falling types – they’re out there taking forever to get to market and receiving paltry royalties in return (on average), and MY opportunities are unlimited and forever.

    What’s not to like?

  51. Great post– then there were the even older days at the beginning of the printing press… if you weren’t worth the paper, you weren’t printed! Makes me wonder, at times, how many other writers like Shakespeare or Edgar Allan Poe existed during their time period, but never got the lucky ‘exposure’ break.

  52. I just graduated from college and am interested in writing. Your post was very practical and has given me a lot to think about concerning building your own brand name and self marketing. I recently started my own blog to convey India to Americans (I’m over in the subcontinent now.) I’d love for you to include it in you contest.

  53. Just discovered your blog … a valuable perspective you are offering. Luddites are still with us, but the future belongs to those who adapt best to what’s new and innovative. Thanks for repeating the point!

    1. Great to meet you, Mary!

  54. I am a late starter, but have always had writing in my heart. this is my year! Publishing The Three Misfiteers is my goal. I like the idea of crashing Goodreads. That will take some doing from my current position. I better get started.

  55. Reblogged this on writers write.

  56. Absolutely love your blog and never miss a post! I am planning on embarking on my own online brand-creating journey shortly and will definitely be grabbing a copy of your book 🙂 I need as much guidance as I can get 🙂

  57. I’ve been an absent fan, but I’m glad I finally made it back here to view this wonderful piece, Kristen! My self-publishing experience was a nightmare, but perhaps things will be different the second time around. Assuming there is a second time, that is.
    Once again, thank you for being the best resource a writer could ask for.
    Well done!

  58. the thing is, though, is that as a reader i can’t help but think that the QUALITY of writing is sacrificed when self-published books hit the market. without an editor, anyone can out anything out on the streets without that very necessary editorial process. i don’t disagree with what you say, but i think that indies/self-publishing has its place. still, i dig what you have to say…

  59. Writing a book is my last frontier. I’ve been an editor, journalist, and freelancer for 40 years, and more recently a blogger. I’ve worked for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and now, a small book publisher, which has both inspired and discouraged me. From the publicity side, I see how damn hard it is to get the attention of the powers that be. Our books are meticulously edited and well presented, but getting the word out there is damn hard. I have a couple books percolating — the matter of earning a living always seems to get in the way.
    The compulsive editor in me feels compelled to bring this to your attention: “…monkey who’s <<> head was crushed…”

    • David LeRoy on September 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm
    • Reply

    “Empowerment” is the word that thinking about when describing the changes in publishing. Authors are now empowered in ways they never were before. However, at the same time, many authors are still existing in a state of learned helplessness. It is hard for many to embrace empowerment.

  60. Kristen, you are my new guru. I’m reading “Rise of the Machines” and loving it. Thanks for guiding us through the publishing terrain.

  61. As a Boomer myself, I am one of the more than 3 in 4 boomers that say they have no intention of seeking traditional retirement-though for me it’s need, not desire. Therefore, I am embracing the new paradigm with open arms.

  1. […] Digital Age Authors & The Ugly Truth About “The Good Old Days” of Publishing. […]

  2. […] Digital Age Authors & The Ugly Truth About “The Good Old Days” of Publishing. […]

  3. […] but today I spotted these statistics on Kristin Lamb’s Blog.  In her August 30 post, “Digital Age Authors & The Ugly Truth About ‘The Good Old Days’ of Publishing,” Lamb […]

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  6. […] So what’s the key to success these days? Lisa and Laura Roeker say that one big key to success is simply finishing your work. And to all those wishing for the good old days of publishing, Kristen Lamb says that the good old days weren’t so good and today’s digital age is awesome for authors. […]

  7. […] Kristen Lamb said it best: […]

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