Angelia Vernon Menchan

Angelia Vernon Menchan is an author, publisher and public speaker who owns two publishing companies, MAMM Productions and Honorable Menchan Media. Mrs. Menchan is also a Budget Officer and former Job Corps Counselor. To date she has published twenty-three books of her own work, both fiction and non-fiction and more than eighty ebook novellas on You can access her bibliography on search words: Angelia Vernon Menchan

Contact information:
Phone numbers: 904 714 2272 904 303 2679

Monday, May 19, 2014

ON OPEN FENCES AND JAILED DOGS: The Future of Publishing

On open fences and jailed dogs: The future of publishing

Near my home, there is a house that’s still under construction.  Although it has no fence yet, it does have a door at the garden’s edge, standing alone in the middle of the road, like a white version of Clarke’s monolith.  As I passed by earlier today, I chuckled at the sight of a dog standing inside the fenceless garden, right behind the closed door, waiting for someone to open it so he can go out for a walk.

At that moment, I remembered Jessica Park’s fascinating article on self-publishing, and it occurred to me that this is exactly what’s happening with the publishing industry.  Writers and authors are still courting agents and publishers, who have acted like gatekeepers for centuries.  And yet, they ignore the simple fact that the gates  are no longer surrounded by fences.

It used to be that publishers were the only way to ensure a book’s mass distribution; having their backing was the only way to reach an audience. Nowadays, however, there’s Amazon, Lulu, Createspace and so many more; the possibilities for self-published authors are endless.  So, why don’t more people self-publish?

One of the reasons is that it may seem like self-publishing is an admission of defeat.  Writers are a notoriously insecure lot, so we need someone’s stamp of approval on our work, to validate it and reassure us that our work matters.  That we matter.

I recently witnessed the following dialogue in a LinkedIn group, to my great surprise:

“…if I was unable to engage with and be published by a traditional publishing company who I also admired for their taste, skills, book jacket designs, other authors' books and so on, then I'd rather remain unpublished because for me it's only when a publisher like that thinks I'm worth investing in, that I feel I've done my real job as a writer.”

Another author then agreed:  “Having my work accepted by a traditional publisher serves as a validation of its quality and marketability.”

But the public doesn’t care about that.  It cares about our work.  And if our work is any good, if we can built a community and talk with people in an honest and personal way, we can reach them; introduce our work to them; make them care about our characters, stories and books.

So, what’s going to happen to publishers and agents?  In a way, the industry is going through the same transformation the music industry went through a few years ago.  At first, music companies fought the internet, mortified of its massive reach.  Wishing to control every aspect, from production to promotion to distribution, they almost ended up losing everything.  Artists started publishing their music online, even for free.  CD sales plummeted, downloads sky-rocketed.  It was only when the industry embraced the change instead of fighting it that things turned around.  Nowadays, the internet is a nice earner for music companies, while allowing people to legally download the music they like, unconstrained by the producers’ opinions.

This, however, has made finding good music harder.  If one hears the same 100 songs on the radio, it’s easy enough to know which ones they like; but if they have to choose between millions of them, people quickly become overwhelmed by the variety.  So, music labels increasingly act as media companies, promoting bands and artists through their networks.

I suspect the same will happen with the publishing industry in the near future.  Right now, it has fractured into many complimentary services.  My mailbox is filled with companies offering to help me distribute my work; promote it; and prepare it for distribution.  What used to be a single publisher’s job has now been torn into many competing elements.

I for one am very excited about this, because it empowers everyone involved: readers get more choice, while authors are free to experiment with different genres and break the rules.  It is only those publishers who cling to the old ways of thinking that need worry about it.  In Tolkien’s words, “the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.”

And, it seems, baffled dogs behind non-existent fences.

Photo found on Pinterest

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