A close relative has worked in the newspaper business for over two decades, first as a journalist and then as editorial staff. This has provided me with a close up view of what happens to an industry when it fails to adapt to a changing world and, especially, to its customers’ needs and expectations. I can’t help but realise this has some important lessons for me as a writer and publisher.


The truth is, the newspaper business has still not really adapted. It’s kicked and screamed its way to one long delayed and ineffective change after another and then wonders where all its customers have gone.

I’m not saying I have all the answers, by the way, but there are a lot of people in that business being paid some seriously big salaries who aren’t showing a whole lot of imagination or adaptability. Thus they’ve ended up with disappearing sales and profits and, more importantly, a lot of people have lost their jobs. What’s more, many of these people loved the work they once did. It’s been hard on them.

Of course, the newspaper business isn’t a million miles away from what I do, given that I publish my own books. So, I have to ask myself, might I not go the same way, flushed down the toilet, if I too fail to adapt? Yep, I certainly will.

I guess, in a way, I’m fortunate that for many, many years I worked in the I.T. business, so I’m used to tech and the way it changes so fast and so dramatically at times. I was happy to grab the chance of releasing my books in ebook format when the Kindle came along and I have no nightmares about the arrival on the scene of AI.

For me, the technological changes that I am required to deal with are no big deal. I’m able to get to grips with them easily enough and I don’t see them as a threat. In fact, I invariably see them as bringing new opportunities. Yes, there can be drawbacks but they are minor by comparison.

And I need to keep adapting like this. Readers’ expectations of how they can engage with my books continue to change. There are different platforms to consider and the relentless growth of subscription services. There are also changes in demand for different formats that need to be addressed.

For example, something I have been working on more assiduously over the last year or so is increasing the number of my books that are available in audio format. This isn’t as simple a task as it might seem, not even with growing access to digitally voiced audiobooks, where you can turn your text into audio at the press of a button. And why is that? Because once you have your audio file you then need to edit it, listening to it from beginning to end and making changes to the text where things that read fine don’t sound right. That is a big, big task for a novel.

I also have to pay close attention to what it is my readers expect from my stories and to understand, as best I can, what they do and do not like. Yes, I could write something I think is an absolute corker but if it doesn’t press any buttons for my readers then they won’t buy it.

My readers’ expectations are changing and they will continue to do so in the years ahead. What I need to do is my level best to ensure I keep up with these shifts because, if I don’t, then I, like the newspaper business, will steadily fade away.


Image by TimMossholder on Unsplash









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