Amazon and Hachette have been locked in a titanic rock'em, sock'em joust since January that is negatively affecting a number of authors' sales. It's the kind of big-business contractual nightmare (they're fighting over the marginal pricing share on e-books, among other things) that makes a writer with an eye toward business want to go out and work in the garden.
Not all writers care about business, of course, and that's all fine and dandy. I dig the dedication of the 4thaluv crowd, but I also like to get paid for my work. Thankfully, there are loads of good options out there in a landscape in which the emphasis is increasingly placed on building a bigger megaphone.
The variety of self-publishing services (there are bunches out there beyond those three) are getting pretty sophisticated. Their software is intuitive, and many authors are experiencing strong sales with their independent works.
Services like Goodreads, Jellybooks, and Library Thing help authors with exposure. They also facilitate contact between writers and authors, which was pretty...stilted years ago. Stuff an envelope. Mail it to a publisher. Wait a few months for a form letter.
Rinse and repeat.
But now folks are chatting in real time, and it's all the better for the world of writing, in my view.
What about short stories? The surge in e-books has spawned a host of fine digital magazines that pay good rates and publish fine stories. If anything, we're seeing a stronger market for speculative short fiction in this digital era. Have a tale you'd like to shop? Check out the Submission Grinder for a home for that story.
All told, there seems to be a lot of fear about the future of publishing, but I think things are following the trends that accompany most disruptive technologies.
Digital opens more doors for novellas. It allows for experimental stuff that has traditionally been harder to place. It allows for poetry and multimedia and unique new themes that publishers might not have touched in the past.
Things are healthy out there. Some traditions are crumbling. New ways of doing things will take their place. The trick is to find your own path, be pro-active with your writing, and work hard to create something of quality.
If you have a story that you want to tell, put it on scibd.com or wattpad. If you have a novel, shop it to an agent or send it to Tor or put it up on your own free Web site. There are a number of paths, and it's up to the writer to find the one that doesn't scar his or her feet...