The difference between writing and publishing is in part mindset, and in part knowledge application. While writers interested in having their work published need to apprach their writing as a business, this means to apply a certain objectivity and practicality to the process of receiving critiques, sending out queries, manuscripts and the like. It means treating the others in the industry with respect. But it is my opinion that the writers advocating the future of publishing wherein only self-publishing exists, do not understand all that goes into a successful release.
Why do I have this perspective? My writers' group self-published last year and we intend to do it this year. I find that I have to explain many things multiple times to my friends and colleagues, because of the difference in mindset. When we gear up to self-publish, my brain switches from "writing mode" to "business mode." I start planning: How are we going to get the funds? How regularly do we need to hold fundraisers? Who can volunteer what time to what effort? How do I build awareness through social media and print media? Who will be the best editors? Who will judge what art goes on the cover? Who will do the cover design? Rejection letter, if there are stories that don't fit with our theme: "Folklore?" Or don't tackle the theme in a professional way? Copy editor? Editor? Who will decide what method of self-publishing will be most suited to this year's efforts and schedule? Who will arrange for the publication? Should we attempt e-books? What about deciding what budget we're working with? Press releases? What are the best regional blogs to contact? Will we have money for ads? Can someone design banners and badges to host on websites and blogs?
I did a lot of this by myself last year, with a bit of help. But to give the anthology a fair shake this time around, and generate the local buzz we're seeking to (in order to inspire a more pronounced literary community in our city) we need to work as a team. But the writers around me, for all their ;love of community, tend to be intensely independent workers. They don't work well with others when it comes to a business enterprise. They want a clear set of duties that they can take off into their own little corner and be certain they can get everything done. And they do, oftentimes, get things done. But that process can inspire stress that detracts from writing.
So when it comes to publishing, each book deserves a team's effort. But that team need not always be writers. Some of us can switch between the two, but I don't think it'd be fair to ask all writers to do so. More than that, I am strong believer in the fact that writers should not have to be independantly wealthy vto succeed, but a self-published author (if they are not surrounded by a team of volunteers)must hire their team. That's a lot of commissions to pay. That's a lot of ads to send around. Our marketing efforts, while in-house, are not going to be comparable to what a large publisher can muster. But part of the purpose is to learn what it takes to publish a book.
That said, I do think the era of Large Houses may well come to an end soon. But Publishers won't go away. I think the interdependence of real life/internet will lend itself better to small publishers. Small publishers don't have as much overhead, and may well be able to sell e-books more cheaply than do the big guys. But in order to bring in enough of a stream on cash to justify this, the small presses will have to change business models, too. The internet does open a new world of writing and I think readers and writers are still figuring out the best way this media can be used to compliment and promote fiction.