Believe it or not, getting published is now easier than ever before – but it depends how you define the term. Traditional publishing – where you sign a contract with a publishing house to print and distribute your manuscript in return for a share of the profits – is in the doldrums these days. Under threat from the dire economic situation and increased competition from digital media and other forms of entertainment, the industry has battened down the hatches and is releasing fewer and fewer titles. Only established authors or well-known celebrities with a story to tell are getting a look in. So unless that’s you, don’t give up the day job just yet.
However, as I’ve already hinted, there are plenty of other opportunities to distribute your work. Gone are the days when you had to rely on scarce expensive printing equipment and a tight-knit clique of industry insiders who held the keys to the gates. The explosion of the internet in the last two or three decades means that anyone with access to a computer and internet connection can promote themselves and release their work to a far greater audience than before, even without the help of a publisher.
Digital publishing in the form of websites, blogs, wikis, ezines and the like have the advantage of being very cheap to produce and distribute to a potentially global audience. These forms of publishing also tend to be very immediate in that there is virtually no lag between the time you write something and your readers consume it.
Another recent innovation in the publishing industry is the rise of Print On Demand (POD) technology which eliminates the need to warehouse large quantities of merchandise prior to it being sold, and thus drastically reduces the financial risks associated with producing large print runs. This, coupled with the option of self-publishing and electronic self-marketing using Web 2.0 technologies mentioned above represents a viable option for writers prepared to take personal responsibility for bringing their work to market. It is not uncommon for authors who make a success of this publishing model to be offered a more traditional contract for future projects.
In conclusion, there is no reason why you cannot become a successful published author. But instead of “waiting to be discovered”, you will have to be prepared to get your hands dirty and do the hard work to make it happen yourself. It’s your choice.