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Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

Wake up writers!

By ZAYNAH QUTUBUDDIN

I love being in an MFA program where I get to discuss plot and character development and the literary merit of my fellow students’ works. It’s absolutely wonderful having a writer’s community to share ideas with. But there’s a big problem. We have absolutely no idea what happens on the publishing side.

Many think, “hey, that’s not our field, so why should we care? All we gotta do is pour our words onto the page and leave it to the publishing deities who will magically publish our book.”

Yeah, that’s not how it works. It’s the publishers who are going to be turning our manuscripts into books and getting us our market. So we should get familiar and friendly now. We should care now. 

But that’s not all. The publishing world is rapidly changing with new reading technology being developed at every turn. I feel like every time I finish writing a story, Amazon’s trying to steamroll over traditional publishing or Apple’s coming out with a new way to read that I don’t quite understand.

Therefore, I believe that it’s important to know what goes on in both writing and publishing so that writers and publishers can work well together. Not only that, but as writers, the more we’re aware of the changes, the more informed decisions we can make and the more mentally prepared we are for the unpredictable future.

As novice writers in this transitional phase from print to electronic, it’s definitely a confusing time. We’ve grown up always imagining that our books would be printed as traditional hardcovers and we would give book tours across the globe, making it rich off that first novel because it was just that good. Now, take that dream and get ready for it to start shattering because it’s quite possible that by the time we’re ready for our book to be launched, electronic publishing may be our main avenue—how are we supposed to give out autographs then if there’s no actual page to write on?

I don’t mean to be a downer, but let’s be realistic. With Amazon’s new publishing venture, Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble’s new Nook Tablet, and Apple’s enhanced e-books, technology is forcing us to move forward into a realm we never had to try to understand before.

There’s so much more to be said, but let’s end it here for now so if you’re a writer, you can ruminate on whether you still think it’s okay not to care about the other side.

On a final note, if I’ve actually garnered enough of your interest for you to get to this point, then here’s the deal readers: I’ll be back. This is only the beginning of a column for writers about the publishing world by a writer because lets face it, publishing can be just as confusing as trying to decide whether your character should die or not. So ask questions, make comments, and I’ll do my best to clear up the craze from both sides.

Until next time,

ZQ

About Zaynah Qutubuddin

Daytime writer, nighttime reader, lifetime student.

2 comments on “Wake up writers!

  1. T Money
    December 5, 2011

    You could still go on book tours…

    • Zaynah Qutubuddin
      December 5, 2011

      Yes this is true. Book tours could still continue, but one big pull of attending a tour (at least for me as a reader) is the chance to get my physical copy of the book signed.

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2011 by in Opinion and tagged .

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