Rolling with the Punches

~Quickly before my post, just wanted to say if you’re in the San Diego are today, I’ll be speaking and signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore at 7 p.m. tonight with fellow author Julie Kramer. Mysterious Galaxy is located at 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 302, San Diego, CA 92111. Hope to see you there.

And since I’m on the road today, I may not be able to reply to comments, so I ask your forgiveness ahead of time. ~


One thing we writers need to be is flexible. This is especially true in our current economy and in the rapidly changing world of publishing.

We all know that the traditional routes to publicity – newspaper reviews, printed ads and the like – are quickly disappearing. Now we all must try to get as many online reviews as possible. Each of these may have a smaller readership than the newspaper reviews, but added together can potentially deliver as many readers as the traditional reviews used to.

Publishers are now starting to catch on to this whole online world, too. And it’s not just the reviews. My own publisher has organized a blog tour for me through the month of August on sites that will, hopefully, expand my fanbase. We’ve seen these blog tours before with such folks as J.A. Konrath and M.J. Rose, and my guess is we’ll be seeing many, many more. In fact, the whole area of marketing is evolving, and I’m sure we will see new oportunities and paths to get our names out there that haven’t even be thought up yet in the near future.

But when I say we need to be flexible, I don’t just mean marketing-wise. A sad fact is that some publishers are cutting mid-list writers, setting us adrift into a void where the future is far from clear. These untethered authors are forced to reinvent themselves or face the reality that our published years are behind us. Maybe this means a switch of genre, but more likely it means writing under a pseudonym for true reinvention. If we wish to continue in the business, we must be willing to take that step, and adapt…to be flexible. 

Even authors who are under contract, with publishers who support them, need to not just sit still as if everything is fine. If we do, it’s like driving a car with our eyes closed. We need to do whatever we can to help our careers by being proactive with our publishers, presenting ideas that will benefit both them and us. We need to also listen to their suggestions, and work together more than ever to build the brand each of us are trying to establish. We also need to recognize opportunities that are presented to us, even if they are scary, and mean we have to take chances. We need to be willing to jump, because we can’t afford to assume everything is going to be fine.

And for those of us who are not yet published, we need to realize that, especially this year, times are tough, and a lot of authors who might have gotten deals in a normal year, have not. But this doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We need to be patient, flexible, and always persistant.

Going forward we all also need to keep flexible with publishing itself. Over the next decade things are going to change. At some point, digital book sales are going to overtake sales of physical books. What is that going to mean to the traditional publishing world? Who knows? But whatever world we find ourselves in doesn’t have to be bad. it will just be different. We have to be ready for it.

And if we are flexible, and roll with the punches, it can also be good world.

Okay writers, where are you in your careers? What do you see the future bringing?

And readers, does the future of books concern you? How do you see yourself reading a book in ten years? Digitally? Or the traditional current method?

26 thoughts on “Rolling with the Punches

  1. Alli

    As a writer, I’m unpubbed at this stage (on my third MS) and hope this current work is THE ONE. I know times are tough, agents keep sprouting this on their blogs about how they are getting more picky with taking on new writers. BUT, I remain positive. I will start the query process in September (when my MS will be submission worthy!), Many agents have said if you have an MS not to hold off querying and waiting for the weather to clear as no one knows when that may happen. I tend to agree. If I’ve written something worth being published, I would hope an agent would take it on, regardless of the economic clime.

    As a reader, I hope to be able to hold books in my hand in ten years time. I am one of those people that love the smell, feel, visual of snuggling up with a fabulous book. I don’t get the same love from a Sony Reader or Kindle. I love to gaze at my bookshelves overflowing with books. I am sure I will be one of the last to embrace this electronic books. I don’t think it’s bad, each to their own, but I am a traditionalist in this regard, I guess.

  2. Terry Odell

    As an author with digital and small press print books, I don’t see the future blazing brightly for a major book deal. Right now, the model seems to be "stick with what’s selling now" rather than taking chances on new authors.

    As a reader – I already read both digital and print books and don’t see that changing. I would mourn the loss of choice. I read both ‘mainstream’ and ‘e-publishers’ on my reader, and like being able to choose the format that makes the most sense for my needs at the time. Traveling? I want to fill my reader. Reading in bed at night? The reader, with its back light is great. But I love print books, and can’t see giving up that medium either.

  3. Dana King

    I’m in a pre-published state. (Thanks to John McFetridge for teaching me that term, which sounds SO much better than "unpublished" or "not published.") To me, this means the state of publishing can only get better, since it does not exist in any real form to me right now.

    I’ll still be reading good, old-fashioned books in ten years. I don’t see me getting an e-reader until they force one into my cold, dead fingers. Or until they can agree on a format and reasonable pricing and downloading structure. No way I’m buyng the BETAMAX of e-readers.

  4. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I saw Robert Crais speak recently and he said, "We’re writers, we’re storytellers, there will always be a place for us. We were the ones drawing pictures on the cave walls. The medium has always changed and we have always survived." The comment gave everyone in the room a feeling of comfort regarding the digital revolution.

  5. karen from mentor

    Submitting to literary journals: short stories, poems, essays and short shorts, writing a blog that has received a warm reception and writing, writing writing.

    I hope to be able to go into the grocery store one day and see myself on the shelves (Like ALLISON)

    Everytime I shop I go over and greet her books. I say hello ma’am, I aspire to this too.

    I understand the E book push, but I love paper books and I hope they survive.

    Great post Brett. Joe Konrath did a Ten Questions Tuesday Interview with me on my blog ….I’d love to have you as well …(but maybe one that’s a little more conservative. lol…you know Joe)
    Karen :0)

  6. Brett Battles

    Oh and if you all are wondering why I said I probably wouldn’t be responding today, and yet here I am…I’m sitting in my car outside a Barnes & Noble waiting for it to open so I can do a scheduled drop in signing. Thank God for my iPhone!!! Hahaha.

  7. Louise Ure

    Brett, you type better (no typos) on your iPhone than I do.

    I’m a storyteller. Some would call me a liar. I’ll be doing that in one form or another for a long time to come.

  8. Robin of My Two Blessings

    As a reader, yes I still see myself reading books in 10 years. I don’t know if I’ll ever go the digital reader route because I love holding the book in my hand and reading where ever I want to. I’ve even taken the trouble to print out a book that I received as an e-book because I didn’t have time, nor did I want to sit at my computer for a long time reading.

    As a writer – I’m at the pre published state right now. Busy writing and enjoying the process.

  9. pari noskin taichert

    Flexibility and determined ignorance . . .

    I guess right now I’m in a phase of not being too worried about the future market/delivery system for our stories because — as others have said — we’re storytellers first.

    In my career at this minute?
    My agent is getting ready to market the first book in a new series. I’ve got brief but cohesive treatments for the next two as well. And I’m currently writing two standalones that have nothing to do with the series.

    I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. Of course, that’s pretty much my main state of mind all the time.

  10. Fran

    Being flexible and being determined do seem to be the keys. From what I’ve seen lately, those are the two biggest win-factors. The ability to look at something, some twist in the road, and instead of saying, "NOOOO!" to fiercely glare at it in a slitty-nearrow-eyed way and growl, "Yeah, and?"

    In the "for what it’s worth" though, Brett, my wife is totally hooked on your books. She’s dyslexic and has been easily frustrated in the past, and she has just raced through yours, loving every page. Thank you!

  11. dvd r

    I find this blog quite interesting. According to me there is no e-reader utility in this cold and dead fingers. They can agree on a format and reasonable pricing and download structure.

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