Dear Publishaurus: It’s over.
You had a good run. As gatekeepers, you were able to determine what was “good” or “bad”. You mercilessly sheared artists for the bulk of their rightful funds, and you did so all while demanding that the clamoring masses come to you in your shrine (New York) in order to reinforce this system.
Then came Napster.
I can draw a direct line between the immolation of the music industry and the ongoing crumbling of what has been a model of archaic business practice– the publishing world. Amidst the cheers of this new landscape, there are stalwart detractors who immediately use the same arguments in order to stave off the inevitable.
“Traditional publishers protect the public from poorly crafted art.”– Uh-huh. And where were you during the heady days of soft core smut that flooded the market and made dump trucks of money for you and your authors who tapped into the frustrated sexual zeitgeist of middle class women? Do the names Pat Booth, Judith Krantz, and Sidney Sheldon mean anything to you? They wrote, in my opinion, some of the most marketable fiction (that happened to be soft-core porn) of the past forty years, and yet I didn’t see them being held back from the delicate palate of the general public. Perhaps I missed that altruism on your collective part, but I doubt it.
There are absolute gems among the Indies of the publishing world, and anything other than embracing your new overlords is a death rattle that wastes your dwindling freedom on arguing a point that smart publishers will have conceded five years ago. The barn door isn’t just open, it’s off the hinges.
“We provide business acumen that independent authors cannot understand.”– That may have been true prior to the digital age, but now, that assertion isn’t merely false, it’s lazy. The speed with which Indies act is beyond anything that a publishing house can muster. Another issue: Indies share. Indies help one another, and we do it in a manner that is organic, inexpensive, and result-oriented.When your budget is smaller than most grocery bills, creativity and firing for effect become the norm. Lean becomes efficient, and that leads to– with the proper product– sales that weren’t generated by an ossified industry that still regards the right to determine artistic value as their own domain. And much like the larger dinosaurs who had primitive yet redundant nervous systems, the death throes are already occurring at the other end of the beast.
Don’t worry. The head will catch up soon, and when it does, the surprise will be as genuine as we in the Indie community expect.
Remember, we’re watching from the front.