I just watched the Thursday Colbert Report and find myself thinking that Stephen Colbert is completely missing the point.
With regard to the Amazon/Hachette dispute he references a first time author and how the lack of anyone being able to pre-order her book on Amazon is the kiss of death for a new title.
Well, yes, if you go through traditional publishing. Sadly, that publishing approach has failed to keep up with the times.
Case in point: I just published my first novel length story on Amazon. Dark Streets will be available tomorrow, once it completes the Amazon review process.
Unlike authors published through Hachette, or in fact any other traditional publisher, 70% of any sales are mine (as opposed to 10-15% through traditional publishing), I retain the rights in perpetuity as well as total creative control, I publish whenever I’m ready, and my story is available for as long as I want to make it so.
What Hachette and other publishers aren’t saying is that they missed the boat and let someone else control not only the means of distribution for books, but also provide a direct line from the writer to the reader.
How many of us remember the name of the publisher of the last book we read? If you’d asked me in the 70’s I’d have said Penguin, or New English Library. Back then those were the only publishers who made available the books I wanted to read. Now, I don’t have a bloody clue. Most of what I read comes to me not from a traditional publisher, but the actual writer. That’s a pretty tough value stream to replace*.
Publishing is changing *very* fast and we’re going to hear a lot of sturm und drang from traditional publishers. After that, unless they change, we’re going to hear nothing.
* I do have some thoughts on this – my day job is helping companies with process improvement and identifying value streams – and I’ll post those on another day.