I’ve been writing novels for more than ten years and have
attended dozens of conferences over that span. From the very beginning
it seems as if I’ve heard the same mantra from the agents
and editors who speak at those conferences. “Think outside
the box.” They all say that submissions are reaching astronomical
numbers and authors need to do something extraordinary in order
to stand out and be noticed. “Don’t be afraid to push
the envelope.” “Break the rules from time to time.”
Are among the comments I’ve heard. But do they really mean
I’ve also been writing book reviews for more
that seven years so I have had the chance to see what the publishers
are offering. To be honest, I haven’t seen any groundbreaking
approaches to writing the mystery novels that I’ve reviewed.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with what’s
out there, only that it’s not much different than the stuff
I’ve been reading since I was a kid.
I believe that the reason things have stayed the same
is that, although editors encourage us to “Think outside the
box” they themselves actually think very much “inside
the box” when it comes to selecting manuscripts. Carrying
it a step further, I believe that this type of paradox has contributed
to the unprecedented explosion of the self-published ebook phenomenon.
I say that because I know of a number of previously published mainstream
authors who are beginning to abandon traditional publishing and
dive into the electronic first, print second market.
Some publishers have stubbornly resisted the trend
toward electronic books, refusing to recognize the potential that
a lot of writers saw many years ago. It’s reminiscent of the
Swiss Watch industry when Japanese electronics firms began manufacturing
wristwatches with quartz crystal movements. They said that nothing
would ever replace the jeweled movement.
So where is this inside-out publishing industry headed?
I don’t think that ebooks are a fad but I’m too realistic
to believe that they are the end point either. The people who have
the greatest vision and are the best guessers will be the winners…