Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wild Wild West?

It's a phrase tossed around when people talk about the "digital revolution" currently befuddling plaguing facing the publishing industry. And it's silly.

I went to a delightful panel on Monday, given by the Association of Author Representatives, about how apps/ebooks/enhanced ebooks/unicorns are affecting how agents do their job. It was the first talk on the subject in about a year that actually delved into some meat--what are the new possibilities, and how do agents and publishers work to best develop them.

But there was still a lot of blood spilt time spent talking in terms of "The Old Ways." The way publishing has always worked, where contracts are king and the product, first and foremost, is always a printed book. News flash, people, we're going to have to change the way we think about everything about books. In fact, if we haven't already, we're behind the curve.

The truth is that this shouldn't be a terrifying landscape anymore. The interwebz have been around for 20 years! Ebooks have been stalking us developing for 10. Publishing has to stop lamenting the ways that these developments will change the old business models and realize that they already have. Now it's just a matter of imagining what's possible given the technologies (and their incredible availability). That's a lot more intimidating than adhering to boilerplate contract language.

This will be the first in a series exploring the obstacles and possibilities that agents and authors face on the front-end of the publishing process. How do we prepare and package a book before we even go to sell it to a publisher? What are the pitfalls?

A series making you not this. >>

It's not scary, and it's not going to ruin publishing. In the next few posts, I'm going to talk about why I'm not crazy for saying so.

14 comments:

B.E.T. said...

I am frankly excited! Looking forward to seeing what's going to be going down in the 'new generation' of publishing.

Alicia said...

I think there's a huge generation gap problem. People learned to adapt to personal computers and to the Internet, but many people only did so when they had to, because everyone else was doing it.

The way to get ahead in business is to do it before everyone else is doing it. An example of what publishers could be doing is offering e-book versions for less than the hardcopy price, to reflect not having to pay for printing. They could be offering free downloads of the eBook with the hardcopy purchase. They could be offering free e-books of public domain works.

This past Christmas season, while I was shopping for others, I bought myself Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn in hardback. Normally I would have waited for it to come out in paperback, but I could not wait to buy it because it included a CD of omnibus editions of her previous books in the Miles Vorkosigan series. That was a seriously good deal.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Awee :( I saw the title and thought you were going to say that westerns were on the rise again.

Loreen Leedy said...

From the standpoint of an author-illustrator, the possibilities are breaking wide open. I'm looking forward to what you have to say, am subscribing.

If you're interested in what a group of children's authors are saying about ebooks and story apps, please check out E is for Book

Thanks!

Kaleen said...

With the world being so enamoured with technology, ebooks and all the gadgets/apps will keep people reading, so bring it. While I love the tactile lovliness of paper and ink in my hands and don't think I'll ever convert, I see those e-readers more and more frequently in the hands of people in the waiting room at work. If it gets people to read, the format shouldn't matter.

Sandy Williams said...

Oh, yay! Looking forward to reading your posts. All the changes and e-stuff fascinates me.

Cynthia Lee said...

Yay! I'm looking forward to this series.

Travener said...

I just wish the publishing industry would move, you know, a little faster -- even a 20th century pace, not a 19th century one.

ClothDragon said...

Yes! Thank you.

I know I'm approaching that big 4-0 so I can really truly be called old, but I've had computers most of my adult life. None of this is new any more.

Max Cool said...

I have never used a computer, and have never had a need for one. Mostly because they are for geeks and I'm a manly boomer-dude who makes himself sound really cool when he speaks about them with scorn.

Whoa. I have GOT to stop channeling the wrong generation.

David said...

I forsee a day when books are printed as more a collector's edition than a vehicle to deliver a story. I have a Kindle and it is amazing. I actually prefer it to printed text.

But when that day comes I see a reactional issue: self-publishing through Amazon and other digital distributors will combine with the degeneration of speech.

Text speak will lessen the expectations of common readers, who will begin to consume badly written self-published novels that have not been edited. These bad novels will get more stars in reviews than they should. (We see it even now in some cases.)

In fact, as good novelists continue to write well, they may actually lose readers as the gap between reading and writing ability widens. Consider Bujold's novels, and it is a good thing that people can read those semi-French fantasy wonders with their kindle/dictionary in hand.

M.T. Anderson had it right in FEED. It's coming sooner than we thought.

Dylana Suarez said...

Lovely blog!


xoxo,

colormenana.blogspot.com

Cozy in Texas said...

Wonderful blog you had me laughing out loud - oops I mean LOL.
It just means we have to keep learning new things. I'm still trying to figure Twitter out.
Ann

Jeanne said...

Totally agree. The publishing world has to adapt and evolve like anything else. I don't think books are dead, they are evolving. I have an e-reader and refuse to feel guilty about reading on it (gah, what is wrong with ppl that they can decide reading is only good on one format?) I also love paper books. And I look forward to where things are going. It's hard for many people right now because it's so different, but in time (maybe now-ish?) all of this will seem "normal." If it already isn't.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?