Discussing the Death of Traditional Publishing with Author Brenda Ayres

For Dr. Brenda Ayres, publishing is old hat. Ayres has been in the writing and publishing game for longer than some of her students have been alive. She has a wealth of knowledge about the publishing world and is quite willing to share her expertise.

As a professor at Liberty University, Ayres teaches English classes and is an assistant director of the honors program. Ayres has published several books that range from works exploring nineteenth century female authors to stories about what people can learn about God through their relationships with their canines. She makes most of her living through teaching, and not writing, but she does not mind.

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“Writing for me has never paid very well, but that doesn’t matter. I really love doing it,” Ayres says.

Ayres’s first book was a modified version of her dissertation, which was published in 1992. The book was picked up quickly and published. She says that publishing was much easier back in the 1990s, but these days, the field is much more competitive.

Today, Ayres believes that part of reason that publishing is more difficult than it was in the 1990s is that the book market as a whole is not in very good condition. Large publishers are going out of business, however, the disappearance of readers is also a contributing factor.

“People don’t want to buy books anymore, and they don’t want to pay money for them,” Ayres says.

The high cost of books also is a heavy factor in the decline of traditional publishing as well. Every college student understands how expensive books are in general, and that academic books are even more expensive. Ayres lamented that some of her own academic books are so expensive that even she cannot afford to purchase them.

Part of the reason that many publishers are closing up shop is the prevalence of independent and self-published books that can be found for low prices through sites like Amazon. However, Ayres does not think that self-publishing is the way to go to revive the sinking publishing industry.

Ayres notes that many self-published works are filled with typos and light on story development. She personally will not read self-published books because of these errors. As much as she dislikes self-publishing, even she has published one book by herself.

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“I thought that I produced a really good book, but it has some typos in it that I discovered down the road,” Ayres says.

She regrets having published the book with errors. Her readers don’t seem to mind, however, as the book is listed on Amazon low in the rankings, but with five star reviews only.

Ayres remains a big advocate of traditional publishing and the rigorous editing process that traditionally published authors must go through. That process isn’t for the faint, Ayres warns.

“Nobody pats you on the back. No one takes the time to say, ‘Oh, this is really great,’ or ‘That was a great point.’ Instead they just tear it to pieces,” Ayres says about the editing process.

It might be painful, but to Ayres, it is also worth it to make sure that the finished product is as good as it could possibly be.

 

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