You only have to look at the fabled lists of looked-forward-to books to see the challenge. Here’s one example: Huffington Post’s 15 Best New Books Of 2012. Predictable, tedious and entirely elitist. Established authors from established publishers log-rolling their respective interests. This is no more a commercially competitive picture than retail banks or privatised utilities, with their cosy co-existence and identical offers (and that, of course, it no imputation of cartelling).
It’s a picture of those who are striving every sinew to keep what they’ve got. Conservatives in the true sense of the word. So, for the brave, entrepreneurial independent publisher and their stable of authors, the chances of penetrating the fortified walls of the publishing behemoths and the papers who review their works are slight indeed.
We writers have to do it ourselves. The proliferation of electronic media makes all this possible. Easily upgraded websites, Facebook, blogs and Twitter are all essential weapons.
The great challenge of course is content. It’s all very well having these media at your fingertips. It’s quite another thing to originate interesting things to say on a regular basis. And, sheesh, are they hungry! A bit like the burgeoning of tv channels inevitably resulted in a reduction in quality and the long, triumphant march of mediocrity, so that is the threat hanging over social media.
That means I’m off to a darkened room now to dream up screeds of interesting high-quality material to feed these voracious beasts. I may be some time.