Changing Times

I have in my hand a first editon signed copy of ‘Swish of the Curtain’ by Pamela Brown. The covers way back when were very plain indeed. Not at all eye candy they are now. I also have a letter sent by the author with the book to a great aunt of mine. Tis a piece of history.

This started off a series for reflections on the industry as a whole. In Pamela’s time, an author inhabited an ivory tower and worked alone. There were snail mail letters back and forth to the publisher, but no agent, as those were a more recent innovation. The manuscripts would be typed up on A4 on an old fashioned typewriter and the text would be double spaced to allow for copy edit notes. A writer wouldn’t do any promo as it wasn’t ‘the form’. This was all done by the publisher.

Fast forward to today. I work in my office at home but I am far from alone. At the click of a mouse I can connect to colleges all over the world. Authors now form online communities for mutual help, support and friendship. Communications between authors/publishers/agents tends to be all electronic. Manuscripts are invariably typed up on a word processor and then sent to the publisher in a suitable file. Promo is not something a publisher will undertake on a large scale, not even the big five, unless a person happens to be a U.S President, or someone equally important. It now falls to authors to toot their own horns in an effort to let the readers know that their book is out there. As for bookstores, nothing much has changed, aside form the ability of the chain stores to sell ebooks as well as dead tree books. They will still only face new books on the shelf if the author has a proven track record of exceptional sales and they will still charge the publisher an arm, leg and their first born child for space on the table at the front of the store right by the door.

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