Learning about Books by the Bay
I left my last session of the Independent Book Publishers Association University a few hours ago, but I think I’m going to be processing the information I picked up on this trip to San Francisco for a long time.
I registered for this event with more than a little uncertainty—I wasn’t sure the focus on publishers and writers would be all that relevant to my work as an editor; I was leery about spending money for a conference and the travel; I was nervous about being in a setting with hundreds of strangers. But I’m walking away with a tote-bag full of information and business cards, warm feelings produced from many encouraging words, and a newfound excitement for what eDitmore Editorial Services can be.
Over and over this weekend, I heard that the publishing industry is changing at a dizzying rate. At the same time that the number of printed and digital books being produced skyrockets, the number of books being read each year is drops. Now that the long-predicted rise of ebooks (longtime author and publishing expert Dan Poynter insisted in his early-morning keynote that the ebook has grown beyond a hyphen) is truly occurring, what will happen to traditionally printed books?
With the mushrooming of social media, authors now have thousands of more avenues to promote their work. But who has time to read books when there are thousands of blogs and Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines to read? And when will authors write if they are spending untold hours each week cultivating bloggers and grooming their own webpages?
But after sitting through this kind information onslaught for a couple of days, I am feeling incredibly optimistic. Why? It’s a bit hard to say. But I think mainly because it feels like I’ve walked into an industry that is re-creating itself. Not that it’s easy—I talked to lots of ex-newspaper people this weekend—and most of us are still mourning the incredibly rapid demise of an industry that we enjoyed and valued.
But the change occurring in the publishing industry feels different somehow—less like a death and more like an unnaturally rapid evolution. And although the dizzying pace is bewildering and intimidating, it also feels exciting and invigorating.
I wasn’t really thinking about the future of publishing when I launched eDitmore last year; I was just hoping to find a way to use my skills and earn some money. But the more I learn, the more I feel I have entered this field at an exciting time that gives me many options, although all of them will require work and determination.
Almost every one I talked to this weekend told me that the need for good editors is growing–and critical. The problem is that publishers often feel they can’t afford good editors and that authors (particularly new authors) don’t even realize they need an editor. So the trick will be to find ways to prove my value in the mayhem that is now the publishing industry.
I learned many ideas this weekend to help me navigate these places where the old roadmaps no longer apply. And I am eager to get started putting some of those ideas into practice.