How to 'Fix' the Book Industry
There are many reasons for authors and publishers to get frustrated by the book industry. Lack of access to many mainstream retail and distribution outlets. Newspapers and radio stations that don't seem to support new authors. Publishing houses that are mostly concerned with safe, least-common-denominator hits.
When these factors rip at an author's heart, there are often two results:
- The writer feels like throwing up his hands, walking away from books, and spending the rest of his days as a Buddhist monk in isolation.
- The writer rages against the system, gets angry about the way things are, insists that things need to change, then becomes a frustrated book reviewer. (Disclaimer: That was a little joke; not a stab at all book reviewers.)
Changing the book industry is not unlike trying to change where and when the sun rises every morning. You can expend all the anger and energy you can muster, but the sun is still going to do its thing -- blissfully unaware that you're unhappy with it.
Stop trying to fix everything and change everybody else. Your focus on frustration just creates more of it. The best way to make an impact in areas that need improvement is to take Gandhi's advice:
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
Unless you're Dan Brown or Stephen King, you won't be able to influence the industry at large anyway. You can't control what happens to the overall book business, but there is something you can control directly: How you conduct yourself and your own place in publishing. Focus on pursuing your book and its topic on your own terms -- not terms imposed by the industry.
The more successful you are living by your own set of standards, the more energy and attention you'll create. And if other authors are likewise successful operating outside the traditional lines, that influence will grow stronger.
Rosa Parks didn't set out to change the entire civil rights system. She simply did what see thought was right and sat down where she felt she was entitled. That simple act of conviction created a social tidal wave that's still being felt today.
Use that same philosophy as you work toward publishing your next book. Be the change you want to see in the book world. Steer away from people who don't support your values. Find victories where you can. Build on them.
Through your positive example, people will take notice and ... the book industry may be slightly altered forever. And that's the best way to truly "fix" the book business.
To your publishing success!