Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Everyone is selling you the system they use

I appreciate the openness that is occurring on-line, where authors post their numbers, and talk about the way the sausage gets made, so to speak. But, I also see a similarity between the discussion of the way sausage is made as it relates to the selling of sausage. One way to advertise sausage is, naturally, to talk about the process of making it and how great that process is and how positive the world is because of the sausage. Discussion of the business of writing falls seamlessly into the selling of the business model.

eBooks are a classic gold rush, in a bad way. The successful titles sell the idea of their alternative business-model, some even being successful titles about how to be a producer of successful titles. The people who sell the tools are always the ones who profit in a gold rush, not the miners. But, everyone is selling you their success stories.

Selling you the idea of traditional publishing as a thing and a force and an important thing is a natural impulse because traditional publishing is a thing and a force and an important thing. And, selling you the idea of indie or self-publishing as a thing and a force and an important thing is also a natural impulse because it is a thing and a force and an important thing.

Ultimately, I suspect there are too many emotions wrapped up in the different systems to speak about the process effectively for any of us. It's hard to watch things we love fall apart and things we don't trust rise up.

In the final image from Gore Vidal's Creation, all matter is a swirling vortex pushing together and pulling apart all at once, and all in a swirl. Everyone is pushing and pulling. Everything is a force that is moving and in motion and moved.

I expect to be done writing in sixty years, at the ripened age of 93. I expect by then that I won't be writing much. I try to imagine what I think the future of publishing will look like by then, and I tell you what I don't see: bookstores or e-bookstores. By then, I have this vision of a kind of democratized spotify/pandora content delivery entity that pays very little per download, generates revenue through advertising, and leaves the audience much happier than the artists who scrape by inside the recommendation engines.

I'm glad that there are still publishers paying advances and eBook stores that manufacture a content paywall. I try to use both these forces for good. I just try to be good, make good art, and meet my audience where they are.

Be a good force for change. Be good. Don't get too caught up in the goldrush, or the defense of things that takes you away from your work. There will always be another goldrush, and another system worthy of defense.

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