Many of my friends now work for themselves. Part of it is our age group. But a lot of it is the economy. People lost jobs and couldn't find new ones, at least ones that worked out well for them: career or money or family. And so they built their own paths as contractors, my husband among them.
This article even speculates that perhaps jobs are obsolete. Utopian notions of "everyone having a roof over their heads and food in their bellies" aside, I think this guy is onto something about where western culture is headed, at least for the professional types. And it's not just computers, either. It's a shift in how we do business. As I said this week in another post, we have enough stuff: apps, computers, toys, TVs, clothes, Pottery Barn decorative items...
What we need are efficient ways to manage that stuff. Plus, efficient ways to run our businesses, to achieve Time To Market. Which, incidentally what my husband focuses on, in a nutshell.
For many writers, it's simply more efficient to hire an editor and formatting service and cover artist and get that shit out there. TTM can become weeks instead of months. Or years. (Disclaimer: my publisher will take a solid year to publish my urban fantasy, Sentinel: Archive of Fire. My buy out clause is small and very reasonable should a better offer come my way, as a tentative, conditional one did recently. Currently, though, I am still happy with my publisher and editor.)
It's certainly something we've been going round and round with in the publishing industry lately. Even Powell's thinks so, eliminating much of their top brass in a reorganization. There's always been a ton of turnover in the publishing industry, and I'm not sure there are more jobs for these laid-off editors. What will they do? Switch careers? Maybe. But these are people who are not in it for the money. They do it for the love of the thing. So they will go it on their own, likely.
Real writers, good writers, recognize the need for editing whether they self-publish or go traditional. I can count on one hand the times I've sat in a bar and heard a writer bitch about an editor...unless they were an editor who did nothing. THAT real writers cannot stomach.
I see writers in this torn position a lot--writers whose work suddenly turned from "job-like" to utter self-employment. Midlisters dropped by their publishers for diminishing sales in a crappy paper book buying climate (it's getting tougher to even FIND paper books to buy. I have to drive ten miles now to get to a real bookstore, and some of them I wouldn't even term real bookstores anymore. They're more promotional items stores. I swear there's more t-shirts and toys and games in B&N than books anymore). OR they've decided to go it on their own permanently, even those with contracts on offer.
Writers are realizing they have to be in business for themselves. They always have been, but they're getting more control. Back to the people I know who (mostly techies) have switched from regular jobs to contracting...most of them wouldn't change a thing. They like the control. They like working long hours when needed (it's easier to stomach if you're paid hourly and there's an end in sight) and then taking off to play when they want.
And I think: you guys have finally achieved my life.
Except... with money. heh.