Recently, someone asked me how publishing has changed since I started writing. Well, where do I start? How hasn’t it changed? Here are a few things that came to mind right away.
When I started writing…
- There was no such thing as an e-book, e-reader, or electronic publishing
- Many of today’s independent/electronic publishers didn’t exist and nobody self-published
- Submitting queries or manuscripts required a trip to the post office
- Promotion? You had to buy an ad in a print magazine
- Erotica? What’s that? Sorry, we don’t publish “those kinds” of stories
Publishing has come a long way since I submitted my first short stories and full-length romances more than thirteen years ago. I remember going to the library to research markets in a huge book called the Writer’s Market. Once I found a few markets to try (and they weren’t closed to unagented authors), the real process of submitting began.
To submit to traditional (paperback) publishers, you had to mail a query and/or synopsis with a SASE, wait for a reply, and then (if you were lucky enough to be asked) submit a hard copy of a full manuscript. Most places insisted the font be Courier 12 point so everything looked like it was typed on an old-school typewriter with exactly 25 lines per page. Needless to say, it was a time-consuming and costly process. Today’s authors can research multiple markets online in minutes and upload a query, synopsis, or full manuscript without leaving their chairs.
Electronic publishing was a novel idea, and back then traditional publishers scoffed at the notion of an e-book. Nobody would want to read a book on a computer. Paper and print were the only way to go because that’s how it was always done.
Well, times have changed and electronic publishing has taken off like a rocket. E-publishers were born overnight and took advantage of the lower overhead required to produce an e-book. Many new publishers built up their title lists by signing authors who were just starting out, didn’t have agents, or were told they weren’t “the right fit” for the big, traditional print publishers. (I won’t tell you which one I was!) Soon, e-readers and e-books were everywhere and the traditional publishers were left scratching their heads and trying to figure out how to get on the bandwagon.
Promotional opportunities for authors also underwent a radical change. In the past, you had to buy an ad in a print magazine, send out a press release, or mail postcards to spread the word about your new book. Now you can upload banner ads and covers on websites and blogs, do video trailers, create virtual blog tours that include guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, online contests, and just about anything else you can think of. Oh, and now we have this thing called “social media” that was just a crazy dream back then.
The definition of romance has changed, too. Erotica was a dirty word (if it existed at all) and was equated with “porn” by anyone and everyone. If you wrote spicy, sexually explicit love scenes between a hero and a heroine, you might be told to tame them down and to avoid using certain “dirty” words. (Purple prose anyone?) Scenes involving risqué things like bondage, toys, and (gasp!) multiple partners were out of the question.
And if you wanted to write a gay romance, or include a bisexual character (or one who was questioning his or her orientation) forget it. Writers were told that nobody (especially women) would read “that sort” of book.
Labeling a m/m love story as a “romance” was also called into question. I remember receiving a survey from a national writer’s association several years ago asking if the definition of “romance” should be limited to a man and a woman or if a “romance” could take place between same-sex characters. Thankfully, people have stopped asking such ridiculous questions and have expanded the romance genre to include everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference.
So where is publishing heading? What will the future hold for print books? Will they go the way of the dinosaurs for a while and then have a resurgence like vinyl albums? Nobody knows. We can’t predict if shifters and vampires will continue to be hot sellers, or if erotic historicals will become the latest trend. But, no matter what happens, I’ll keep writing. And I’ll go where my plotlines and characters take me—into the future.
Kelli A. Wilkins
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, 18 romance novels, and 4 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had three romances published in 2014: A Secret Match, Wilderness Bride, and Dangerous Indenture.
Kelli publishes a blog: filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, to learn more about all of her writings.
Everett Kinkade is a world-famous professional wrestler and the sexy heartthrob of millions of adoring female fans. But Ev has a secret he doesn’t dare share with anyone. He’s gay.
After years of being Ev’s secret lover, Josh is tired of hiding in the shadows and wants Ev to openly acknowledge their relationship. Coming out is the last thing Ev wants and fears it will ruin his career.
One night in a moment of truth, Everett outs himself on live TV. There’s no going back, and his announcement sparks a firestorm of problems – both personally and professionally. He’s forced to come to grips with who he really is while facing down a tag team out to destroy him.
Torn between living a lie and losing the man he loves, Ev has risked everything… can he find a balance between his career and his heart?
Buy a copy of ‘A Secret Match’ at Amber Quill Press.
Coming soon to Amazon and B&N in e-book and paperback!