Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Changing Landscape

by Tony Thomas

I've noticed that writing is a lot different than it was in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when I was an active writer.

First of all, there aren't that many print magazines around anymore. The exceptions are large consumer mags and some specialized trade publications. Paper and printing costs have risen astronomically, and that has either bankrupted or constrained many players in the magazine business.

It seems like the British are still very active in magazine publishing judging from my trips to the local Barnes & Noble. Those buying their beautiful magazines probably get sticker shock every time they look at the prices. Some of them cost as much or more than a trade paperback.

Consolidation has also taken hold, and there are conglomerates with several similar publications under one roof. Many publications are entirely staff-written and, as a result, there is less work for freelancers. And most of the companies that were once involved in the magazine business have moved their content to the Internet, even if some of them maintain a print version.

The Internet has been a game changer in a lot of different ways. Some good, and some not so good. Content mills and writing brokers are pervasive. Some websites that allow you to bid on work, but it is a race to the bottom. Writing rates are going down, down, down. If you are a professional writer and want to get paid well, you have to market yourself to find clients that value quality writing.

On the plus side, anyone can start their own blog and write their own self-published book very quickly, easily and inexpensively. As a result, there are fewer barriers to entry for those who want to write. Technology has also improved greatly.

In the 70s, I wrote all of my articles on a manual typewriter. In the 80s, I moved to computers. And now, I can dictate my words into a microphone and they are automatically recognized by the programs that I use. That allows me to write faster, even if the final product requires a bit more editing.

The only thing that I struggle with is getting back into the frame of mind to write. That requires discipline and a lot of deep thinking. Right now, I am in the process of working to streamline my workflow and strengthen my writing muscles.

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