Neil Gaiman Says “Book publishing is in free-fall”

Image provided by John & stock.xchng

Image provided by John & stock.xchng

Rules. The writing world is riddled with them. Rules for point of view, tense, punctuation and sentence structures. Publishers push their rules for word counts on us and they are different for each genre. Unless you’re an established best-selling author, you must follow the rules to get traditionally published.

Neil Gaiman seems to think “traditional publishing models are falling apart…” If Gaiman is correct and “nobody knows what works any more,” then it should be easier to get published. Publishers should be primed to take chances. He also believes that “there’s no guarantee that playing it safe will result in success…”

How many of you agree with Neil?

His name carries a certain weight, or prestige. I’m fairly certain he could throw any experiment at his publisher and they would snap it up, just as his established fans would. Even if critics don’t like his “crazy project” it won’t hurt him when it comes time for another novel.

It’s not the same for unestablished writers. Publishers are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place these days. For a traditional publishing company to take a chance on you, your work must be impeccable and follow the established rules. They stand to lose money if your book fails. Even writers who play it safe are often rejected.

Self-publishing has been a game-changer, there’s no doubt about that. There are authors making a good living off self-published books. But there is also a stigma that comes with publishing this way. Anyone can publish a book these days. That doesn’t mean the books are good. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m stating a fact. Until self-publishing authors hold themselves to the same standards as traditional publishing companies, they will be looked upon as the black sheep.

Far be it from me to outright disagree with Neil Gaiman (after all, he has written episodes for Doctor Who). Maybe things are changing. Maybe writers should go nuts and take advantage of the free-fall. I’m still trying to grasp the established workings of getting my work noticed; I’m not sure I can switch mid-stream. So, I’ll strive for excellence in my work, enjoy the process and pray for success in the publishing arena.

Gaiman quotes obtained from

  • mooderino

    I think he’s right that things are in flux but I think it’s still too early to know exactly how things will shake out.


    • I agree Mood. I’m increasingly becoming disillusioned with self-publishing though and I wonder if I’m not the only one. The flood of novels that aren’t quite ready to be out there are hurting the industry and it makes it difficult for those that are ready.