When I read Angela Guillaume’s excellent post from last week, I was still reeling from
Even more concerning is the change in booksellers, stores, etc. No more shelf space, no more expensive manufacturing, inventory or distribution channels needed. It’s all going digital, just like music. Great. Less waste, and surprise, surprise, the publishers are no longer in control. No more gatekeepers. No more rejection letters. You can publish yourself. The comments and sales you receive will dictate your success as an author. Some will be loved, other hated, some will build a brand, others will take up painting.
Authors will now be built by the masses, by stars given and breathless quotes posted, by special offers and free sample chapters. In thirty seconds or less, our work will be downloaded all over the world to 20,000 readers, or maybe just 20, including family and friends.
Great, so now what?
How many authors feel like me? Lots, probably, which means that in the far reaching future, we’re not just talking about the death of traditional print publishing houses, but of traditional e-publishing houses too. Who needs them? The readers will decide who succeeds and who fails, just as they always have. This is not to say that publishers of all kinds won't find a new role and a new relevancy for themselves. Some of them certainly will. I see Harlequin's vanity line as an attempt at that. But I'm a writer and I'm just going to keep on writing, regardless.
Speaking to unpublished writers everywhere, I think we would all do well to forget about houses, agents, whatever. Forget about all the things we’ve learned about the industry so far. Waste of time. Instead, I'll be focusing on what it means to be a writer in the digital world. In my opinion, we’re going to have greater responsibilities and greater freedom. We need to know how to package and distribute our own work. We need to know new strategies for reaching our readers and we need to be damn good writers, good enough to sell a book in three sample chapters and deliver an incredible story to the last page.
No hand-holding, no passing the buck, no one to blame (or rely on) but ourselves. In a world where the great houses are shaking on their foundations, that’s exactly the place I want to be. I’ll bet on me any day, although secretly, I would still love to work with Chris Keeslar. For now, however, looks like that will only happen in my dreams.