Friday, November 15, 2013

Publishing's Future?

by Jean Henry Mead

Most writers attempt to stay current with publishing trends but technology has evolved so rapidly during the past decade that marketing experts are becoming desirable.

Hardcover books have become the dinosaurs of the industry, closely followed by paperbacks. And if projections are correct, ebooks will eventually become a product of the past. Some writers have tried to cover a number of bases to prevent genre slumps from cutting into their earnings as well. Writing in more than one genre has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. I've written mystery/suspense novels in a somewhat humorous vein as well as children's mysteries, Wyoming historicals and nonfiction books. After reading one of my mysteries, a reader suggested that I might want to write fantasies. :)

The disadvantage to writing in more than one genre is the need to switch gears and rotate genres on a regular basis. I know that Louie L'Amour wrote three books a year, but I like to enjoy the process of writing, not churn out copy as I did as a  news reporter. Two books a year is my limit.

Among the advantages is that you can halt work on a problem book to begin something else, before returning to the original manuscript. You can also combine more than one genre as I did with a book published earlier this year. No Escape: the Sweetwater Tragedy is an historical mystery. I researched the hangings of a young Wyoming couple on and off for more than twenty years before I had enough data to write the novel.

My latest novel, A Murder in Paradise, was released this week, the fifth book in my Logan and Cafferty mystery/suspense series. It's my last in the series, at least for a while. I tired of writing about two feisty 60-year-old widows traveling in a motorhome and stumbling over bodies, although, by now, they seem like old friends.

I enjoy writing novels based on historical happenings and researching not only the events but the people involved. Characterization is my strong suit, plotting my weakest, but with historicals, the plot is already laid out for me, thanks to the work of nonfiction writers. My adopted state of Wyoming is rich in historical events beginning with the western expansion of the mid-1800s, providing me with more than enough research for the rest of my writing life.

I don't plan to abandon the mystery genre entirely. I'll continue to write Hamilton Kids' mysteries, and I have a good narrator who's currently recording them for online audio book sales as well as my mystery series.  My historicals are also in the process of narration as well as one of my interview books. Thanks to an audio company, I've had a great variety of voices to choose from and it's fun listening to them audition to read my work. From what I've heard, audio books will replace both print and ebooks because they can be listened to while working, relaxing, driving or preparing dinner. It's undoubtedly the wave of the future and may do away with pleasure reading, just as teaching cursive writing has all but been abandoned in schools since the advent of the electronic age. We may soon be listening to our favorite books on Dick Tracey-type wrist watches or Walkman devices plugged  into our ears as we take our  evening strolls.


Bill Kirton said...

Interesting, perceptive thoughts, Jean, which do seem to sum up the current trends and situation. I'm in total sympathy with your resistance to being imprisoned in a single genre. I can understand why readers want to know exactly what they're getting but to be confined to one genre with its conventions and restrictions can actually stifle creativity. In fact, I think writing in another genre (or no genre at all) can refresh our approach to our 'main' one. Equally, it might broaden reading habits. Reading shouldn't be a reductive experience.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Kind words for a rambling piece written while under the influence of dental pain killers, Bill. I agree that reading shouldn't be a reductive experience but I'm pleased that more youngsters seem to be reading due to the new electronic devices.

Jackie King said...

I enjoyed your article, Jean. Thanks for writing through the fog of medication to send us another interesting post. Also, I'm sending healing thoughts your way. Hugs, Jackie

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Jackie. I certainly appreciate your healing thoughts.

Mark W. Danielson said...

I hear you, Jean. My next project is to write a biography on my grandfather, dubbed "Mr. Geographic" by the magazine of the same name. It will take a long time to get it right, but I feel it's an important work, and also a branch out from mystery. Good luck with it.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Mark. Best of luck with Mr. Georgraphic. It sounds like quite a project!