I used to be traditionally published, but then I found out I could be making 70% royalties off KDP instead of the 4% to 7% industry standard royalties from trade publishing houses. That was the only incentive I needed to switch.
Also, I've been publishing books since 1978... I'm not really seeing change in the author-focused world of books you are describing.
>>so many breakthroughs/bestsellers/prize winners are gorgeous young women to boot
I've never noticed this myself, but then again, I'm not one for reading most of the new releases either. I don't like the current trend of writing a book to feel like a movie. I'm interested in characters not landscapes and worlds. All the best worldbuilding and plotting in the world means nothing to me if the characters are shitty cardboard cutouts. Sadly most new stuff I've read, I can't get past the first chapter, because it's all "Oooooh look at those mountains!" and "OMG! look at my beautiful self in this amazing mirror, ain't I just gorgeous!"
When was the last time you saw a character driven story that put the character front and center? Nope. Too busy describing factions and war zones and telling me who has a wolf on their flag vs who has a dragon on theirs. Yeah. Boring! Get to the damned character dialogue already! When do the characters get a chance to start talking? When does this author stop yapping about their continent and give the characters a chance to do something? Are there even any characters in this book? Where the hell is the damned dialogue!
Do NO ONE write dialogue any more? Why are new books practically devoid of dialogue these days? Do people do so much texting and so little actual opening their mouths to talk these days that no one knows how to write dialogue anymore? What is this trend in nearly dialogue-less books these days?
I end up heading to yard sales looking for old paperbacks from the 1950s and 1960s, because at least I know those authors had enough grammar education in school to teach them how to write. Can't say that for most writers today, whom I seriously doubt even took grammar let alone got anything close to a passing grade, if they weren't high school dropouts that is. Do they even teach grammar in school any more? Not from what I'm seeing published these days.
So, yeah, for me, I'm not looking at the authors, I'm too busy griping about the lack of basic grammar skills being taught in schools, causing young authors to not be able to string together words properly, to notice the authors behind the books.
If I find a book I like, then I look into who the author is, but, finding anything published in the last decade that I don't just want to throw across the room in frustration is difficult.
But you bring up a good point, one I never thought of before... I wonder if the shitty crap being published the past decade is not an issue of the school system's incompetence, and perhaps is more a side effect of social media? Could it be kids are too busy text talking on their cell phones in class to pay attention to how to diagram sentences? Are they too busy tweeting when they should be studying and then it shows in their complete lack of writing skills when they try to publish a book?
Perhaps authors these days are focusing too hard and heavy on social media when what they really ought to be doing is taking some GED adult ed classes to brush up on their grammar skills?
But, are there more young women in writing today? I don't know. I'm a straight female, so I'm not in the habit of noticing women in general, authors or otherwise. I'm also a Yaoi author, so, hey, you know what I notice... :P
I wonder if you are noticing young women because you are a man? (Are you a man? I don't know.)
I doubt if there are more women in writing then there ever were. I mean, this year is my 40th anniversary as a published author and, there were plenty of females besides me writing in the 70s and 80s, so not like we weren't out there before.
>>With the need for author twitter, blogs, photos
From what I've seen, only the smallest names in the business focus hard and heavy on social media... most top selling authors don't even have Twitter or FaceBook accounts. The ones that do, it's a dummy account managed by an agent and the author never even looks at it.
Twitter is a chat room. You go on there to talk to people. If you are only tossing around links you are using it wrong. You know before 2014 links weren't even allowed on Twitter, right? 2014 is when you saw me stop using Twitter so much, because like everyone else who used it as intended, I got sick of being bombarded by links and no longer being able to find chatters to chat with.
Perhaps it's my age showing, but I can't wrap my brain around the young people of today's desperate need for attention seeking on social media. It's like everyone under 30 lives only for the amount of "likes" they get on FB or Twitter and have no real concept how to actually socialize in the real world any more.
Everyone has got their face stuck in a cell phone and not one of them can identify a bird or a flower, heck, they didn't even notice the birds and flowers they are walking by because they can't stop texting long enough to look at the world around them.
But has this culture of mindless texting and endless social media, caused the raging trend of shitty crap grammar books being published these days? are these authors so used to excessively bad text talk grammar, that they think poor shitty grammar is good, simply because they wouldn't know good grammar if it stared them in the face?
Are we now seeing hoards of authors who hash out books on a whim, then instead of editing and revising to make the book better, do nothing but focus on social media preseance? I certainly hope not! But I suppose it's a possibility.
>>There seems an expected loss of privacy now.
What loss of privacy NOW? Loss of privacy is not new for authors. No writer ever had privacy. You ever been to Bangor? Hillbilly hick town in the middle of hundreds of thousands of acres of forest. Most of the roads are dirt and only used by logging trucks. Head to a little side street off a side street off another side street.... what do you see? a street barely 1/8mile long - 6 lanes wide...to accommodate the HUNDREDS of cars, tour buses, and tourists parked in front of Stephen King's house... a house he hasn't lived in in almost 3 decades, because he had to flee Maine and move into a gated community in Florida with armed guarded to keep out the stalkers.
I grew up here. I remember that street before King was famous. It was just another side street. People on that street used to have lawns... not a 6 lane road up to their front doors. In the 1980s, police surrounded the place after a psycho stalker broke in and took to living in King's attic. Internet and Kindle weren't around back then. You can't blame King's lack of privacy on self publishing or social media.
Authors have never had privacy. If you worry about privacy, then don't get into the writing career.
>>Another whole issue is being so close to your intended audience through the internet (forums, reading screeds of reviews etc)... is this an issue for you too?
And what the heck does reading reviews have to do with authors? Authors don't read reviews. Reviews are written by readers for readers. To help readers decide if they'll want to read the book or not. You're the author. You already know you like the book, you freaking wrote it.
You have no need to read reviews.
Reviews aren't there for authors they're there for other readers. Sooner authors get that through their heads the better off they'll be. If you're an author and your hung up on reading reviews, honey you got ego issues that probably need a psychologist to help you through. Readers do NOT write reviews as a way to try to get a message to an author. Only time you see a review like that it's another author doing 1 star drive by digging to try to make another author look bad, and that's NOT what the review system is for. You're using reviews the wrong way if you are worry about reviews at all.
Far too many newbie authors these days run around worrying about getting reviews. What good doe it do them? Just stressing themselves out needlessly.
>>Have you ever been turned down by an agent/ publisher for refusing to engage in social media or demanding anonymity?
I seriously question the legitimacy of any agent or publisher who did that. They definitely belong on the Writer Beware list, that's for sure.
If you have been turned down for such things, know that this is not normal and that the agent/publisher is likely not legit.
>>It's occurred to me how author-focused the world of books has become over the past few decades.
Okay... so as I said, this year is my 40th anniversary as a published author... that means I've lived through, witnessed, and been a part of 4 decades of the publishing/writing/author industry/world... I don't see that's it's changed all that much. Authors have always done book signings and interviews. Before we had to be constantly on the road, going to interviews in person, now we can do interviews from home over skype or a YouTube livestream. The focus on authors hasn't changed, just the way the author connects to the public has made it easier to connect more often. Authors who want to hide in the shadows still do, like they always did, authors who like doing book signings and photo shoots with fans at conventions, now no longer have to wait for the convention to connect with their fans, they connect online.
So, no, I don't think the focus is on authors any more than it ever was, I think, we just have more options as to how to connect to our fans then we did in the past, is all.
I don't think, there is more of a push to be in the public eye, I think it's just, we have more options to connect with the public now, so now authors who previously wanted to connect to their readers but couldn't fly to the conventions, now have other options, resulting in more authors being noticed in public then before. Authors who wanted to connect with fans, but have a phobia of planes or crowds, now can connect with fans from home without having to get on a plane and fly to some crowed convention.
More options to connect, means more authors being seen in public. But I don't think that means there is more pressure to do so. It's just those particular authors wanted to, so they did.
I don't think an author should be made to feel they MUST have a public presence if they don't want it, and I also don't think the publishing industry is trying to push authors on the public either. Perhaps it seems that way, because the internet made it easier for the authors who wanted a public presence to do so?
>>What is it that drives you?
What drives me?
I fell in love with a character and wanted to know more about him...that was 130 novels and 2,000 short stories about him ago, and I'm still writing him. This year is his 40th anniversary. I love this character. That's what drives me. I'd be writing about him even if I wasn't publishing the stories about him.