Getting published is every aspiring author’s dream, the focus of enormous energy, hopes and fears. So if that dream comes true, then you can feel as though all your struggles are now over, right?
Getting published is only the start, and in retrospect, it can seem a good deal simpler than what follows: staying published! Maintaining a sustainable, money-earning career as a professional author has never been an easy task, at any time. But in a modern publishing industry, in the middle of rapid and turbulent transformation over the last five to seven years, it has become even more challenging. Building a writer’s profile slowly, over time, simply isn’t an option anymore for most publishers, as the mid-list is squeezed and rapid staff turnovers in many companies make it that much harder to maintain an ongoing relationship with authors.
It is a sign of these challenging times that many established authors and illustrators are reporting difficulties with placing new work and experiencing lower incomes, as print sales fall and e books do not fully take up the slack. Newer authors are also finding it hard, with first books expected to make much more of an impact than in the past, and for all more time is being consumed by promotion through social media and public appearances. And yet new opportunities are also springing up, especially in digital publishing and self-publishing, but also with small presses.
So how, in this world of rapid change, can an author not only stay published, but thrive? Is it harder to stay published now than in the recent past? What successful strategies have authors evolved to cope with change? What pitfalls have they tried to avoid? And what advice would they give newly-published authors who might be having trouble following up publication of their first book or two?
These questions were at the centre of the interviews I conducted with over forty established authors, publishers and agents, mainly in my home country of Australia (including my fellow WU contributor Juliet Marillier), but also in the US (Tamora Pierce), UK (including Anthony Horowitz), and New Zealand recently. [Read more…]