Posted on 07/20/2015 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

One of the tougher questions we’ve asked authors in our Q&A feature — along with what their favorite of their own books is — is what they think the future holds for the publishing industry.

Of course, with the speed at which changes pop up, it’s difficult to make incredibly specific predictions. (The recent Kindle Unlimited and Scribd developments come to mind immediately.)

David Gaughran, author of Let’s Get Digital and a self-publishing guru; Julianne MacLean and Julie Ortolon, both best-selling romance novelists; and Daniel Arthur Smith, author of the futuristic Hugh Howey Lives, were all willing, however, to share their general thoughts on where literature is headed.

In general, the four seemed optimistic about literature’s chances of survival, in whatever form it may take.

MacLean expects digital book sales to overtake print sales eventually, but not to kill the industry. “How the story is sold or consumed might change, but readers will always be looking to be moved, enlightened, or entertained,” she says.

Commenters on the blog post that inspired Smith’s novel — about a future where artificial intelligence, not humans, generates literature — had raised the possibility that virtual reality would render all authors obsolete. 

Smith disagrees. “There will always be a place for storytellers,” he says. “The only thing that will make authors obsolete is a lack of readers.”

So, unsurprisingly, authors tended to agree on the wisdom of focusing on what you can control.

Keeping up with industry changes is valuable, says Ortolon, but only to a point. Remember your bread and butter: “Don’t become so distracted with industry news, especially all the hand-wringing, that you don’t get any writing done.”

Gaughran observed that while we don’t know what will follow the ebook revolution, it’s more important to realize that readers are happily downloading books right now. 

“The best insurance policy against change is a large readership. So don’t waste this opportunity by tying yourself up in knots about the future,” he says. “Start building your readership now and deal with the future when it happens.”

But as for that future? Gaughran expects yet another delivery system for stories — beyond print and digital books — to emerge.

“I suspect that, in ten years’ time, the idea of sitting down at a machine to ‘go online’ is going to seem rather quaint, and that the barriers between the online world and the physical world will start to crumble — what’s happening with VR, augmented reality, and 3D printing is just the beginning.”

Categories: Author Interview

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