Monday, January 23, 2012

If not you, who will force publishing companies to change?

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="LOUD speaker by woodleywonderworks"]LOUD speaker by woodleywonderworks[/caption]

It's been about 10 hours since I wrote this steaming post regarding Audible1. Read it if you want the full details, but I want to talk about something else here.

The establishment fears change.

No, I'm not going to strap on a black arm band and suggest we stage a sit-in with our MP3 players. But that simple fact hit me today, and I urge all digital authors to take note. It's the rare publishing company that willingly embraces change. Yet at the same time, the publishing industry is going through changes it hasn't seen in... ever!

That makes for a difficult environment for you, the digital author.

Chances are, you are willing to try different things. To step beyond the boundaries of what worked in the past. To try and emulate other trailblazing authors who are re-defining the space.

And chances are, you'll be beset on all sides with publishers, agents, editors and others from the establishment who will try and convince you to abandon your wild and reckless ways.

Sorry. I'm back to wearing the black armband. Next up, I'll sport a goatee and sponsor a poetry slam? Maybe I should just get to the point...

Learn from history. Don't be a slave to it.

There's wisdom in standing on the shoulders of giants. But you're a fool to do so when the giant is standing on the edge of a crumbling cliff. Smarter giants are stepping away from the precipice and seeking more solid ground. And they are finding that ground is always shifting. Thing is; it always has been shifting. It's just that the shifts are happening with more regularity, and with fewer rest periods in between.

Your choice is simple: stick with your giant, and hope it stays standing for a little longer. Or you can seek out a giant who's taking steps to find more solid ground. There's plenty of it out there.

Cripes. Now I'm taking metaphors way, way too far.

What you can do.

If you don't get how free and for-fee work together, educate yourself. If you're still waiting for that six-figure deal for your first book so you finally have time to write, stop with the delusions. And if you think that the marketplace selling your wares should make more than you... well I'm not sure there's much hope for you.

Don't be the change you want to see in the world; force it. Settle for nothing less. If that means making a stink when necessary -- do it. Be unapologetic about it. Just try not to burn your bridges along the way. Some (read: The Establishment) will eventually come around to reality. You want to be remembered as the person who got them off their collective asses and moving toward a solution. Not the jerk who called them out and pointed fingers at their idiocy.2

1 - Truth is, I wrote the post last week, with the anticipation that my call with them would be bad. Hey, at least I was right!

2 - Still not sure how I did there...

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