Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Future Shock for Writers

I recently discovered a thought provoking discussion on the future of books by Jerry D. Simmons, a former sales representative for Random House and Warner Communications, whose goal is to use his 33 years of experience in the publishing field to guide unpublished authors toward success through multi-media sources including his popular website,

In his article entitled "The Future of Print Books," which appeared on his website on November 4, 2010, Simmons outlined his outlook on books and writing as fast-paced technological advances and financial peril challenge the world we know.

He begins with the good news that books are not becoming obsolete.
Forget the doomsday scenario; printed books are not going away. Their relevance in the market is going to diminish over time, but there will always be printed books.
Then comes the bad news. He predicts that a financial crises will eventually force our mega-bookstores to close, resulting in the creation of a void for those of us who love books. He outlines a bleak future for both those who write, and those who publish.

In reaction to these loses, Simmons says publishers will continue to downsize through the elimination of positions, holdings, and acquisitions. The net result, he says will be negative for writers, who will lose a market for their writing as the bottom continues to fall out of the publishing market.

The worst out on the table, Simmons turns to a "cup is half-full" style at this point, suggesting this time of chaos will provide a time of opportunity for writers - especially those who continue to churn out professional manuscripts.

Well written, professionally edited manuscripts that inform, entertain, and even enlighten are going to become the new gold standard in publishing.

His final advice for writers? Keep busy and hone your skills.

The important thing to do right now is write and market. It is very important to write articles, blogs, or anything that will allow readers to read your work. Building an audience via social media specifically, and the worldwide web in general, is the best and least expensive way to market your writing.

As the industry reinvents itself the single most important thing for writers is to create content. Then market yourself and your writing to as many websites as possible. Place yourself in a position when the call finally comes that you are ready and have a lot of material to be published.

Sounds like we need to keep on blogging, fellow bloggers. Simmons delves into these subjects in more depth and touches on other aspects of this issue in his article which can be found at Be sure to visit his website. It's worth your time.


Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Timely post Mary Jane. I was sorry to hear on the news that Borders filed for bankruptcy this moning and plans to close nearly 200 stores.

Jennifer Rova said...

You pushed my buttons (see your blog on cliches) with your well written, informative blog today Mary Jane. Publishers are to blame for destroying their markets. They push well known authors to write three books a year (see interview on Stuart Woods’ web page) which results in thin, recycled plots with static characters. Books are published with large font, wide margins and short chapters that start half way down a blank page all for the usual $34.95 or worse yet, $11.99 for an enlarged soft cover book that should cost $5.99. “Rip off” is what comes to my mind. Instead of evolving, publishers are like newspapers, too big headed and unable to see change and adapt. Think AT&T before cell phones. Writers and book stores are the first victims with readers being the ultimate losers.

Jessie Gunderson said...

Well, I bet the Roman's didn't think there would be a day without scrolls. ;)

Thanks for the informative post.

Something I've been pondering, how does a writer attract READERS to her blog? Not people to read the blog but people who read. It seems that most author blogs attract aspiring authors only. Hmmm?

Mary Jane Honegger said...

Thanks for all your comments. I guess Nancy's sad, Jennifer's mad, and to Jessie: maybe the Romans would feel better if they knew how much of our time we spend "scrolling" on the Internet. MJ


In a recent blog " Print vs Kindle", I somewhat addressed the topic you write about, Mary Jane - the future of books. While I stand on the side of print, for the reasons mentioned in my post, I recognize different outlets for writers, and readers is a good thing. Since book stores are one of my favorite places to visit, I'm sorry to hear Borders is closing so many locations, and can only hope their Cda store isn't on the list of 200 !