I had a conversation with someone who isn’t in the publishing industry recently and we covered the typical acquaintance topics: Nice weather we’re having, isn’t it? Are you from around here? What do you do for a living?
When it was my turn, I told him I’m a writer who probably edits more than he writes because of the changes in the industry.
He tilted his head, so I explained a few of the changes. Why pay for a print magazine or newspaper subscription when you can read the same articles online for free?
“But somebody still has to pay those writers. And I don’t understand why, but readers who were willing to pay periodic $20, $30 or $50 subscription fees for print versions of magazines and newspapers are unwilling to pay a single penny for e-versions. Somehow, a switch hasn’t flipped in their brains yet – the one that says, ‘I’m paying for content, not a piece of paper I’m going to recycle tomorrow.’”
“So what does that mean for a writer like you?” he said.
“Journalists who are staffers live in constant fear of losing their jobs – many already have, and for the ones who remain, they often have to produce the content of two writers,” I said. “As a reader, you’ll probably see more ads and fewer pages. The math has to work for them to keep the doors open.
“For freelancers like me, it means fewer paying markets. I was the sports columnist for a newspaper here in town, but the paper shut down a few years ago. I covered sports for a magazine and it only lasted nine months. I covered high school sports for another newspaper here locally and they cut their rate to the point that I couldn’t accept any more work. And the major daily in town gobbled up all of the small-town newspapers in the vicinity and they share content, so they don’t need as many writers (guys like me). ”
“I had no idea,” he said.
“Not many do, but I’m not pessimistic. Instead I’m trying to re-invent myself – much like everyone else in the industry. But as difficult as this time is, it’s also a great time to be a writer. We have fewer gatekeepers than ever before and independent publishing is a viable option for entrepreneurial-minded authors. I waited too long to think this way, so I’m slowly making the shift now.”
Yesterday, author Philip Yancey addressed the changes in the industry on his blog in an article called Farewell to the Golden Age. He has a rather cynical view because the old way (walking into a book store and purchasing a book) is dying and it’s the only way he has ever known, but if you are looking for an overview of what has taken place, his post is a good place to start.
New Links to Lee’s Articles:
A kinder, gentler Manny Ramirez (SB Nation) – includes an anecdote about how he treated one photographer at a minor league game recently and how that type of treatment is a picture of who he has become post-scandal(s).
Why the PCL HR leader isn’t an All-Star (SB Nation) – for the diehard minor league baseball fan with a curious mind.
The PCL announces ’14 All-Star team (SB Nation) – a list of all thirty Pacific Coast Leaguplayers bound for the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham, North Carolina on July 16.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.
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