I am a budding writer in the thick of both developing my voice and searching out my purpose in this craft. I'm encountering some very heavy questions, not the least of these to do with finding success in today's 'writing climate'.
I am both daunted by and skeptical of the prospect of getting involved with the writing industry as it exists today: the publishing industry's landscape has been completely re-sculpted. Within publishing, sales and manuscript acquisitions are down. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are at an all time low, and online bookstores are virtually gutting conventional booksellers' business. In addition, the recent onset of a global recession has further crippled the industry, which now finds itself hobbling into an increasingly dismal scenario.
Writers such as myself are on the 'hinge-point' of a culture. We face the challenge of aspiring to make a living through an industry that seems to be on its last legs. Our desired profession must, on pain of non-existence, adapt to not only the viral nature of the internet, but also to faltering book sales and the displacement of reading as entertainment. My generation must be relentlessly creative in the face of mounting odds: we must innovate to save our future.
But I am only one person. I have ideas and passions, but one man is not a movement. My world is aching for hopeful discussion, for a new take on this messy realism. I am hungry for partners and compatriots to wrestle through all of this with me.
How can new writers get their work into the hands of the public – and support themselves at the same time?
Is it feasible for writers to collaborate with artists and sell a joint product (ie: book with a soundtrack CD in the jacket, or a series of paintings accompanied by short stories, etc...)?
How can writers maximize the potential of natural 'gathering places' like coffee-shops or pubs?
What, if anything, is wrong with with the current structure of the publishing industry?
What's more important for a writer: getting one's name 'out there' or signing a book deal?
Well, that's the tip of the iceberg. I hope this is something you're able to dialogue with me about.