My mother opened up the International Herald Tribune the other day and said “oh” in a fatalistic kind of way. “There’s an article by Scott Turow here.” Granted, I haven’t read any of his novels, but I know he’s one of those BIG NAMES that you see in BIG LETTERS on the covers of BOOKS. My mother is an incredibly fast reader, so she’d probably already skimmed a bit of the article by the time she’d let out her exhalation of a syllable, but when she further remarked that the piece seemed to be mostly about Amazon and the “state of authors today” I said immediately that I didn’t want to read it. I may have said it a bit forcefully. I may have also wanted to run screaming from the room in order to avoid contamination.
Here’s the thing. As a 22-year-old writer who is incredibly serious about her aspirations to remain one, I am fully aware of the state of the publishing world today. I know that Amazon is monopolizing the e-book market, not-so-slowly but ever-so-sure. I know that there are fewer and fewer BIG NAME PUBLISHERS in the market, because they’re all merging, buying each other out, and trying to stay afloat while more often than not paying their authors a pittance instead of working wages. I know that things are never going to be the same as they used to be.
I used to mourn it. I really did. For a while, I was even panicking. How will I be able to keep writing? How will I support myself? How will I ever make money? How will I ever survive? How will any young writer survive in this horrible, horrible world?!
But then I realised that I was falling prey to the fear-mongering. And I looked around me. And I took a deep breath. And I got over it.
The world is changing. But the written word is still prevalent. The format may be changing, the market may be changing, and the way business is happening may be changing. But the point is that people are still reading, and writers are still writing, and art is still happening everywhere. Some things are worth fighting for – equal rights for women, for the LGBTQ community, for instance (still not a thing in too many parts of the western world, let alone the rest of it) – but fighting to maintain a certain kind of business model for a certain kind of profession that has been changing for as long as it has been around? I’d rather adapt, learn as I go along, and continue to write and communicate.
PHOTO / sbpoet