Friday, October 31

Question of the Week: What's Next in Publishing?

Hi, everybody. It's Liz with today's question. Hope you're having a great week and oh, we forgot...

If anyone had told me 10 years ago where publishing would be today, I would have laughed, said, "Oh, yeah, right," and gone on about my business. We've seen so much happen: indie-pubbing, MM, FF, and erotica stories becoming part of the romance genre, NA becoming a new sub-genre, chick-lit coming and--in large part--going. I'm big on "what's next?" these days, so here's my question for the week for both the Wranglers and everyone else (please chime in--we get lonesome here!) what do you think will be The Next Big Thing(s) in the world of publishing?

Kristi says:

Sometimes I feel like I have a little whiplash in publishing. Self-publishing was once looked up as horrible, now it's widely accepted. Same with e-book and e-first imprints. We're seeing publishers merging and authors releasing books in all kinds of genres/sub-genres without pseudonyms. I get a little tired of the 'it's the Wild West' phrasing, but it is true that publishing is changing so fast that's its hard to know what will come up next. 

One thing I think will be huge, and something I'm considering doing myself, is the Enhanced Versions of books - ebooks that include pictures or songs, author interviews, backstory detail and even deleted scenes...all in files that allow the reader to read only the published version of a book or to include those extras. I read my first 'enhanced' book recently (a Courtney Milan title) and loved it!

Nan responds:

Kristi’s response about the enhanced books is intriguing and news to me, so wow! My thinking is more along the lines of what the new thing will be in the romance genre and I’ve thought about this a lot. Naturally, I’m hoping that the idea of older heroines will catch on and people over 45 will be clanging for books about their age and older! But I think in a way, I kinda hope the big push for dark erotic tales and vampires and zombies will subside some. The world can be such a dark and dreary place sometimes and I hope for the next generations—our grandkids—that the dark trend will end. I want books about light and love and hope and joy. I know, I know, the whole Pollyanna thing, but wouldn’t it be lovely?
Margie's answer:

Good question. I kind of like Kristi's answer about interactive books--the way technology is going and the attention span of the younger generations coming up behind us, it seems inevitable. 

As for books themselves, I kind of hope for more genre-morphing combining genres to create new, original genres. And above else, I'd love to see the censorship of books be abolished nationwide. 

And my answer:

I think Kristi’s right about interactive becoming bigger. I’d love, as Margie says, to see censorship abolished, but I’d like for some kind of ratings system—at least in genre fiction—to give you an indicator of what you’re getting. Not because I’m a prude but because everyone’s choices vary so widely and you can’t always tell by cover or blurb what you’re getting.

Along with what Nan said (I have no original thoughts—you all knew that, right?) I want to see romance or good women’s fiction with “mature” protagonists. If the heroine cares about skinny jeans or the height of her heels, that’s fine, but I don’t want to read her story. As a baby boomer, I know there are very, very many of us, and I truly don’t understand why publishers don’t want authors to tell some of our stories—we’re interesting!

As far as technology goes, it’s just going to get more sophisticated and amazing.

So, readers and writers, what are you expecting from the next ten years? Let us know!


  1. As for the future, it is what it will be and I'm looking forward to seeing the years unfold--into the kinder, gentler world the majority of us want. Meantime, I'll continue to read and write stories that speak to my heart and humor gene, mostly because I don't do well with trends. (smile) Thanks for stimulating my brain this morning!

  2. Maybe things are already changing--slowly--with having older characters. My friend Janis Thornton's debut mystery, Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies, has a 60ish sleuth. (shameless plug, but it's on topic). I have no idea what publishing will hold in the future but I have two burning questions that are unrelated to one another. 1) Will literary agents survive? 2) Will Barnes and Noble go out of business? Do the answers matter? lol

    1. They do matter to me. I want bookstores to find ways to survive because--if for no other reason--I think they're socially important.

      Agents? I don't have one so I can't really address that too much, but the question makes me think of unions. I was in a union most of my working life and even though there are serious downsides to unions, I always made a working wage and had life-improving benefits because they were there to negotiate for those of us on the punching side of the clock. That's what agents do, and I hope they survive to do more of it.

  3. I chose a “woman of mature years” for as my central character for my first novel (“Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies”) because I wanted to present a strong, fun, spirited female protagonist that fellow Baby Boomers could identify with and root for. I had no trouble selling my story, and now that it’s published, I’m thrilled that readers say they like and relate to the “mature” protagonist. I would love to see vibrant, older protagonists become a trend.

    1. Well, you just made a sale! :-) I went to Amazon and introduced myself to Gertie and Crystal. I'm with you--I hope it becomes a trend.

    2. Wow! Thank you, Liz! ... Thank you so much. I hope you like Crystal and Gertie as much as I do, and I hope you'll let me know. :)

  4. Great post and question. When I started down the road to becoming published I thought I HAD to have an agent. I no longer feel that they are absolutely necessary for everyone. I'm happy to say that my publisher and editors have provided all the support I could ever ask for and I don't see that changing in the future.
    The next big thing? I hope I figure it out!

  5. Love all the ideas here, but you know, I have no idea what's coming. The interactive idea doesn't get me, but to younger readers, I can see it might be very appealing. Older heroines would be a good thing, too. The biggest change I could Wish for, though, is that the generation coming up right now would be more drawn to---books!! Reading! I'm hopeful that will come about with the growing popularity of youth and YA novels. Although I must say, some the YA themes are pretty mature! Good, thought-provoking post, ladies!

    1. Most of my grandkids are readers, and I tend to think more kids read than we realize. I hope I'm right about that.