How Has Publishing Changed Over the Years? It’s a Different Animal!
By Kelli A. Wilkins
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, an e-reader, or electronic publishing
- Many of today’s independent publishers didn’t exist
- 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 (approximately) fifteen years ago. If you wanted to submit a story, you couldn’t just look a publisher up online (some/most didn’t have websites), you had to find their listing in a huge book called the Writer’s Market. After I found a few markets (that weren’t closed to unagented authors), the real process of submitting began.
To submit to traditional (paperback) publishers, you had to snail mail a query and/or synopsis with a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope), wait for a reply, and then (if you were lucky enough to be asked) submit a hard copy of a full manuscript. Sounds like an agonizingly slow process, huh? Well, it was!
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. If the manuscript wasn’t submitted exactly this way, it was tossed into the trash. Needless to say, all this was a time-consuming and costly process. Today’s authors can research multiple markets online in minutes and upload a query, synopsis, or a full manuscript without leaving their chairs.
Back then, electronic publishing was a novel idea, and traditional publishers publicly 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. Independent 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. And how to make money.
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. 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. A major romance writer’s association surveyed authors asking if the definition of “romance” should be limited to a man and a woman only—and questioned if a “romance” could even take place between same-sex characters. Really? (I quit that romance writer’s group after the survey came out and told them exactly why I refused to be associated with them.) Thankfully, most people have stopped asking such ridiculous questions and many publishers have expanded the romance genre to include everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference.
And in this day and age, you don’t even need a publisher. You can self-publish whatever you want! This is great for authors who write shorter romances, because in the past you couldn’t find publishers to look at a collection of short stories, novellas, or even novels under 60,000 words. One of the best parts of self-publishing is that you have no restrictions. Your story can include risqué characters or unusual situations that a traditional romance publisher would reject because it didn’t fit into a “cookie cutter” format.
Self-publishing is also great for established authors whose publishers have folded or dropped certain lines. When my publishers closed, I re-released my romances on my own. I still loved the stories and wanted to share them with the world. I re-edited the books, gave them new covers, and reintroduced them to a new batch of readers.
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 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
Here’s a look at A Most Unusual Princess, the first romance I self-published! This fun and sexy story is the first book in my Royal Desires trilogy. The other two books are A Most Intriguing Temptation and A Most Unfortunate Prince. Although the stories are connected, each stands alone as an individual read.
A Most Unusual Princess
Princess Elara needs to find a royal husband, but claims that no man can satisfy her. Her father hires Dalton, a special guard, to watch over her while she’s courting suitors. Dalton finds her unusual behaviors charming—and enthralling.
Dalton’s aloof manner intrigues Elara, and despite their differences, they share tender moments and intimate nighttime encounters. Elara is heartbroken when her father chooses a “proper” husband for her—until she meets the mystery man.
Bonus! This e-book includes a sneak peek at the second book in the “Royal Desires” series: A Most Intriguing Temptation.
Order A Most Unusual Princess here:
All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/me00L9
Read all about the trilogy on my blog: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/post/spotlight-on-the-royal-desires-series
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20 romance novels, 6 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
In January 2020, Kelli published Love, Lies & Redemption, a western romance set in 1877 Nebraska. This novel blends a sensual love story with mystery and danger.
She released Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love, a non-fiction guide to romance in November 2019. The book features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.
Kelli published Extraterrestrial Encounters, a collection of 18 sci-fi stories, in August 2019. If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her disturbing novella, Nightmare in the North.
Earlier in 2019 she released The Viking’s Witch, a paranormal/historical romance, and Dangerous Indenture, a historical mystery romance set in Colonial Pennsylvania.
Kelli has authored two online writing courses: Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas and Fiction Writing for Beginners. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
Not just an author, Kelli is also an amateur photographer. Visit her pages on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kelli+wilkins and iStock https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/kelliwilkins to view her photos.
Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.
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