Predictions for 2012 for writers and readers

Did you know I come from a long line of fortune tellers? It’s true. My dad’s people were Irish gypsies–or travellers, as they prefer. Here’s a picture of my grandparents’ travellers camp circa I-wish-I-knew-when.

MeMa foretold the future using cards, and two of my great aunts read palms professionally for many, many years. So I know of what I’m talking about when I say I’ve got predictions for 2012.

Well, actually, I probably don’t. But it’s still fun to believe.

We all know the publishing industry is undergoing a great upheaval. I don’t think anyone really knows what the business will look like when things quiet down, but I’ve read several interesting posts postulating the possibilities over the last few days, so I can’t resist doing one of my own.

Here are two of the posts I’m talking about: D.D. Scott and Bob Mayer.

This post isn’t about who is right (or “write”) and who is wrong. It’s about being informed and planning careers and calming the fluttery butterflies of uncertainty in all of our stomachs. Today’s post will approach the predictions from the writer’s view. Tomorrow I’ll look at what’s in store for readers.

Here are my predictions for 2012:

  1. Big mainstream publishers are not going away anytime soon. They will evolve…even if they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.  The three evolutionary changes I think we’ll see first are:

    a) Hardcover and large print run paperback releases will be limited mostly to the A-list authors like James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Sue Grafton, etc. And celebrity books (yuck).

    b) More mainstream publishers will begin to offer “e-book only” lines for their midlist and newer, unproven authors. Some authors will sign these deals (even though the royalties can’t compete with indie earnings) in hopes of selling enough to eventually become elevated to one of those A-list spots and getting a print deal. Others will sign because they don’t want the headache of all the other roles the indie author must play in marketing, cover design, formatting, etc.

    c) Mainstream publishers will continue to sign indie authors who are selling very well, though they will have to significantly improve their conract terms to get them.

  2. More midlist authors (like myself!) will make the jump to indie publishing.
  3. More talented unpublished authors will quit beating their head against the submission-rejection wall of traditional publishing and go the indie route.
  4. Number two and number three combined will not only continue improving the overall quality and respectedness (?) of indie publihed books in the general population, but will cause a fundamental shift in the supporting industries including literary agencies, writers’ organizations, bestseller lists and book review processes that previously scorned self-published work. For example, today in the Romance Writers of America, an author is not considered published (which comes with considerable perks through the organization) if her work is self-published no matter how many copies she sells. Methinks this is going to have to change.
  5. Current midlist authors who don’t make the jump to indie will see increasing pressure on their earnings throughout the year and 2013. Their print runs and print sales will drop, but their increasing e-book sales will not make up the difference in revenue due to the low royalty rates most publishers are paying these authors. This is especially sad for authors late in their careers who stick with traditional publishing because they see themselves as old dogs who can’t learn new tricks. They may not be able to ride out the tidal wave of change until retirement.
  6. Indie authors will increasingly band together. In order to reach the maximum audience, authors will cross-promote each others’ books and collaborate on anthologies. They will maintain multi-author websites, blogs and other social media outlets. More and more we’ll see groups of authors functioning almost as cooperatively owned publishing houses using their group leverage not only for marketing purposes, but in the acquisition of resources such as cover art designers and copyeditors. Cool, huh?
  7. Way out on a limb with this one. By the end of 2012 or early 2013, I believe we’ll see someone or something emerge that could be a potential competitor for Amazon in the long run. I have no idea who that will be.
  8. Number eight is more of a wish than a prediction. Authors today have some great professional organizations backing them up: Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of American, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Internation Thriller Writers, and more. These organizations provide for the care and feeding of authors. They nurture new talent (well, some of them do), provide ongoing eduction opportunities, serve as industry watchdogs and keep their members updated on industry trends. I’d like to see a multi-genre professional writers organization for indie writers emerge. I mean a reallyprofessional one.Indies have such an entrepenurial, free-spirited mindset that I don’t think this will be an easy task. But there is a void. Today the void is being partially filled through social media pages of indie authors. In the future I think we’re going to need the klout of a professional group to deal with the big business retailers (and others) who support us and the scam artists who’d like to con us. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of having such an organization, and I miss it on the indie side.

That’s it for my 2012 predictions. What do you think? Who’s got their crystal ball all warmed up?

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at things from the all-important reader’s point of view.

In the meantime…remember my new fantasy romance novella will be available on later this week!

7 Responses to “Predictions for 2012 for writers and readers”

  1. 1 A. C. Cockerill December 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Very interesting article, Vickie. I agree with all of your points and really hope RWA will soon recognize self-published authors in major awards, too. Cheers, Ashley

  2. 2 vickietaylor December 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Ashley.
    I do think RWA and other writing organizations will come around. It just takes time. I don’t think that all the standards should be thrown out the window, however. We need to find equitable standards between traditionally published and self-published authors. For example, if the standard to be recognized as a publisher is to sell 5,000 copies of one book, then the same could hold true for self-publishers. Perhaps they should be considered published (and therefore eligible for PAN and the RITA contest) after they’ve sold 5,000 copies of one book — as verified by the retail reports provided by Barnes & Noble and to their self-published authors.

  3. 3 T:) December 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Hey Vicky! Your dad told me about your site. I will have to follow it every week. I used to work with your dad at the bank!! Have a good day and this article is informative. I am in the slow process of writing a semi-childrens pre-teen girl’s book…..I LOVE writing…I HATE the discipline involved!! LOL

    Theresa Arnold 🙂

    • 4 vickietaylor December 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Hey Theresa!
      Nice to hear from you! Anyone who can put up with my dad at work is a hero in my book (lol). Good luck with your writing. Have you looked into writing groups in the area? Sometimes just connecting with like-minded people can give a much-needed boost to that discipline. Keep in touch.

  4. 5 Diana Layne December 28, 2011 at 2:39 am

    That is a pretty thin limb re: the Amazon thing, but it’s to hope for. I love Amazon, I live in a small town and do a lot of shopping on Amazon and get most of my books there, but still, almost-monopolies just make me nervous. And yes, hopefully there will be some org where we can band together, already I’ve heard of maybe…hm, a Turkish publisher trying to rip off indies? (that’s pure gossip, I can’t verify that, I have so many things going through my head these days). I don’t think the big six will go under, either, but I do think a lot of good people could lose their jobs because they don’t move fast enough and they’ll have to rebuild. There are still authors who will sign the e-book only deals–face it, it feels good when someone says “I want to buy your book”. And they also like the comfort of having an editor–I know i like it, and for now, I plan to go both routes because it will hopefully make me eligible to enter the Rita one day. I don’t know, I’ve been inundated in RWA so long and the Golden Heart final was nice, so I think a Rita final would be nice too. 🙂 In the future…well, we’ll see how the indie thing goes.

    • 6 vickietaylor December 28, 2011 at 3:18 am

      I think going the dual route is a great thing if a) you can negoatiate your contracts to make it possible (non-compete clauses and option clauses can complicate matters greatly) and b) you do it with the right publisher.

      I am not ruling out ever being published by a house again. There are a couple of houses I would like to do business with and will pursue when the time is right. Just gotta make sure it’s a strategic decision and not a knee-jerk reaction.

      Yes, Rita finals are nice. 😉 I think the org will have to adjust somewhat, but it’s going to be a slow, painful process (remember the whole nightmare with getting any kind of ebook recognized?).

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