Saturday, January 9, 2016

Changes in the Industry

Our theme for January is Changes in the Industry. Many of us have witnessed the most amazing change in recent history: the shift of self-publishing from taboo to acceptable, even preferable in some cases.

But agent Steve Laube wrote a post on his agency blog that describes changes most of us wouldn't have thought about. With his permission, I've reposted his article here:

Five Things that Changed the Publishing World

Over the past twenty-five years ago there have been five things that changed the landscape of the publishing industry forever (the first three below happened in 1995).

Amazon.com

Dan Balow wrote an excellent piece on this earlier this year. It still is quite astounding when you think about it. In 20 years this little online startup (founded 1995) became the most dominant online retailer in the Western world. Bookselling will never be the same.

Google.com

While Google officially did not begin until 1998 (the year they incorporated), it was in 1995 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google as a research project while Ph.D. students at Stanford University. The way we do research as writers has never been the same.

Left Behind

It was the publication of Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (published by Tyndale House Publishing) in 1995 that ushered in a new golden era of Christian fiction. It had such an impact that Jerry Falwell said in a 2005 Time magazine article about Tim LaHaye, “In terms of its impact on Christianity, it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible.” Eventually there were 15 books in the series which sold around 70 million copies.

Wikipedia

It wasn’t until 2001 that Wikipedia was created. Can you believe it was that recent? The idea of a computer encyclopedia had been around for a while. In 1993 Microsoft tried to create one with their Encarta project (on CD-ROM in the beginning). Encarta was finally discontinued in 2009. The combination of forces obliterated the print edition of the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica (the last print edition came out in 2010). Quick access to “encyclopedic” information has never been so easy. {While Wikipedia is a reasonably good starting place for a snapshot, remember not to have it as your sole source of research! Harvard University agrees…}

Microsoft Word

No matter what you think about its strengths or weaknesses, Microsoft Word is THE go-to software for editors and publishers. If you use any other writing software (Pages, Scrivener, Google Docs, etc) you will have to convert your file into a Word document when you turn in the manuscript so the publisher can begin the editing process. I began using it in 1992 with version 2.0 (I still have the floppy discs that I used to load it on my first home computer) and have used it nearly every day ever since (which only make me feel old).

[[Speaking of “old,” do you remember transitioning from the mechanical or electric typewriter to a computer? I still recall the awe of being able to change typos without correction tape or Wite-Out. And the ability to have the computer set footnotes at the bottom of a page without having to measure the pages while I typed.]]

Why this trip down memory lane? To illustrate how quickly things can change. Twenty years may seem like a long time (in 1995 our three daughters weren’t in high school yet) but in the scheme of things it was just yesterday. So while it is hard to wait or hard to see the industry change before your eyes, it only means that something new is over the horizon. Those with long experience in the industry have seen many trends come and go. What has not changed, and never will, is the need for great content…hopefully it will be yours that is the next project to touch thousands of readers.

Learn about the Steve Laube Agency at: http://www.stevelaube.com

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