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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The death of the query letter!

As Self-Publishing becomes more prolific and even big name established authors choosing to self-publish in order to get a bigger share of the royalties, the traditional publishing model will continue to decline.

The Traditional model has been write a Query Letter, to get noticed and discovered by literary agent.  The books, blogs, and ways to write a query letter are about as varied as stories of how well they work, when should they be mailed, the ratios of ignores and refusals to those answered asking for a partial or whole manuscript.  Once you get noticed by a literary agent your story may or may not get sold.

Of the very little percentage of the entire population who wants to write a novel only a small percentage of them will actually finish.  Of those there is still a hard core group who dream of traditional publishing, and are still lining them selves up for years of therapy after all those rejections and the mountain of spent mail which will never even be answered.

On the other hand there is a flood of those who could never write a query letter who are jumping straight into the world of self-publishing.  There is a tidal wave of books showing up on the virtual market.  In the past only handful of books that were written ever saw the light of day as published books.  Today any book can become a published book.  The virtual slush pile is growing but now it is up to the reading public to decide what will sell and what will be ignored.

What does the Traditional Publishing Model have to offer these days?
It used to be the turning your manuscript into a real book, professionalism of Editing, cover design, and marketing!  With money you can by editing, professional cover design, and even an awesome array of strategies of marketing.  As far as having a printed book, there are many outsourcing means for printing your E-books.  CreateSpace and some like companies will actually print the books as you sell them.

A market I do see is for the Indie Authors who are writing incredible books and don’t have the money to purchase the outside help of editing, cover designs, or marketing.  They need the last vestiges of services the Traditional Publishers offer.  But then the model and system in which these systems work will never discover a independently published author because there is no query letter, no agent, and no author panting at their door with their tail wagging, yapping ‘Pick Me’.

Of all the people in the world who want their books published the traditional published model will still have more stuff to pick from than they can possibly choose or gamble on.  They won’t realize how bad it is until the scales have tipped and the dam breaks and there is no stopping or saving the traditional system.

I have mentioned this in the past, and I will restate it again here.  There are bunches of people who read and review books.  If I were a manager of a traditional publishing house, I would offer to put some of these readers and reviewers on staff on a slight retainer type basis.  So when they run across a truly awesome book, a new Harry Potter series, the next Stephen King, the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, the next GREAT AUTHOR, that they get on the phone and submit it directly to somebody at the literary agency.  If this undiscovered author is luckily not the most grammatically correct, doesn’t have the best cover art for their book, and little to no marketing, then they should hunt them down and sign them up.

The flip side of this is all ready happening.
When a Indie Author has sales that skyrocket to great unrealistic numbers coming right out of the gate, the publishers are jumping on them.  The problem with this model is that it will by pass the literary agent.  There is room in the future for literary agents, authors, and publishers.

If things don’t change the first to become extinct will be the agents, second the publishers and traditional books stores.  The authors and the readers will survive because ultimately that is the market.
I am an Indie Author who is learning, and getting editing help.  I am developing my artistic skills to the digital world.  As far as marketing, the Internet is reinventing how to get your word out in new and ever changing ways everyday.  As the techno machines get more prolific and the ways of sharing, communicating, tweeting, and social networking evolve so will E-marketing.  The people selling and socializing are rewriting the rules and books on E-Marketing weekly.

There is also a growth of groups of authors, editors, artists, and movie makers who are combining their efforts to turn out books just as professional as the Traditional Publishing Model, except they are also working collectively to market the efforts of the entire group through the medium of new books being published.  This may very well be the future of the traditional publishing model, after the big houses have become extinct.

The biggest seller of books through the ages is word of mouth.  Which books do people talk about and recommend to other people?  The Good Ones.  Want to sell more books?  Write better books!!  The mechanics of English, grammar, and spelling, can be learned and bought.  Imagination, how to tell a story, twist a plot, surprise your reader, intrigue your reader, hook them, and force them to turn pages and put their hectic lives on hold until they finish your book, cannot be taught.  You can take class after class and write a hundred books, you either have it or you don’t.  The one things all readers have in common who read all the time - we all know Good Writing when we read it.

The biggest of storms announces itself as a simple breeze.  The breeze was in 2008.  The wind is blowing in the face of traditional publishing.  There is a hurricane off the coast and the only ones who are truly immune are the writers and readers.

Final note is that it is a readers market.  There is more stuff to read, from the past, current, new works, traditionally published works, for money down to Free.  There is more to read than ever before in the history of mankind.  Enjoy, and wade into it, because frankly there is more to read than we can read in a life time.  Readers have the right and are becoming more choosy about what we will waste our time reading.  Our time is precious, and the works plentiful.  I have enough real books and e-books to keep me reading for the next few years.


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