Friday, February 12, 2016

Writing: Changes In Publishing

I still recall learning how to use a card catalog in the library. It was a bit laborious, but research usually involved a visit to that big wooden case with the brass handles and numerous drawers. Of course, I never realized that one day my name would be on some of those cards.

I got a chuckle out of a Frasier episode we watched recently when his brother, Niles, says, "I've always dreamed of the time I could go to the card catalog and see my name under 'Mental Illness.'" Some of us actually made it (although not under "Mental Illness," thank goodness). But the days of the card catalog are pretty much gone.

I got into the world of publishing late. Oh, while I was still practicing medicine I wrote or edited eight textbooks, and I suspect my name is still in one or two card catalogs, but I haven't seen one for quite a while. And, further, I probably don't remember how to use one anyway. Now it's all computerized.

Today I received my copy of one of the professional journals I get. I enjoyed reading a few of the articles, but I didn't keep the journal when I was through. Instead, it went into the recycle bin. Why? Because I know that, if I wanted to look back at an article, I could go onto my computer and, with a few clicks, access and print that bit of information.

Textbooks and professional journals have moved into the twenty-first century, with both print and online formats. But imagine my surprise when I had occasion to look at my latest novel, Medical Judgment, which will be released in May and saw that I'd written the "author's note" for the front matter in September of 2014--more than a year and a half before the book was to appear in print.

Why is there such a time lapse between the time a publisher receives an author's accepted manuscript of a novel and the day that book is released? I've heard the usual excuses: several rounds of editing are necessary, someone has to design the cover and others have to pass on it, publicity has to be lined up, salespeople must present the book to the various booksellers responsible for getting the work to the buying public... But the lengthy time involved in this process is one of the factors that has made a number of authors move to self-publishing. Others of us choose to seek the positive factors traditional publishers offer.

Without going into further detail or coming down on one side or the other of the traditional publishing vs. self-publishing debate, I'll ask for your input on the subject. I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Tweet with a single click. "Traditional vs. self-publishing--what's your opinion?" Click here to tweet.

NOTE: Today at the Suspense Sisters blog I'm interviewing author E. E. Kennedy. Drop by (just click the link), leave a comment, and get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of her latest Christian mystery.


Katrina Epperson said...

Richard, I grew up in the card catalog era. Yes, it was ingrained in our heads at school. Was that a bad thing? No. Years ago children were taught to use their brains, but now with the use and ease of the internet, in my opinion, something is being lost for today's children. Sadly today everyone wants instant gratification. I'm as guilty as anyone else who reads a book and after closing the last page is ready for the next, but I also know the anticipation of waiting for the next release. Generally, if it's a series, just before the next release, I will re read all the previous book/books to get caught up and what a joy that can be. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and enduring

Richard Mabry said...

Katrina, you've echoed my thoughts. As my hero, obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk, used to say: I don't mind progress. I just don't like to be around when it happens.
Thanks for your comment. I hope you'll click the link at the end of this post to take you to the Suspense Sisters blog and see what E E Kennedy has to say.

Patricia Bradley said...

I, too, remember the card catalogs. I also remember being so upset because I couldn't have a library card until I started to school. I hope that's one thing they've changed. And I visited the Suspense Sisters and preordered E E Kennedy's book.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Patricia. I'm hesitant to let people know I recall the card catalogs since it reveals my age. If you watch The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon still has one in his living room (as decoration, I suppose). Appreciate the comment.