Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Emperor's New (Media) Clothes

This past weekend, I attended—for the 4th consecutive year—the La Jolla Writers Conference. I have always come away from this small conference with a renewed enthusiasm for the art of writing as well as the business of publishing. I have met some wonderfully generous authors, agents, and industry professionals who served on the faculty—without compensation. People like Robyn Carr, Mark Clements, Jane Green, Alan Russell, Steve Berry, James Grippando, Margaret Weis, Linda Lael Miller, Ken Kuhlken, Lisa Gardner, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Warren Lewis, David Morrell, Stephen J. Cannell, Eldon Thompson... to namedrop but a few. There are more. Many more.

In past years, self-publishing received a wee bit of attention from self-made mogul Greg GodekPrint self-publishing, that is. Print-on-demand might have been mentioned… in passing.

This year, however, was the first time digital publishing appeared—officially—on the agenda.  I was thrilled. In fact, the new media session went a step further than even I'd anticipated, bypassing small press and epublishers completely. Author and podcast guru, Steven R. Boyett adamantly forecast a time in our NEAR future when the layers (agents, publishers, distributors) between artist and consumer would go the way of the dodo.  It's already happening in isolated instances. He should know. His podcasts are a good example.

Having just launched my own self-publishing label, Purple Prosaic, a month ago, this was—as you can imagine—music to my ears.  In my first month of operation, I earned SIX TIMES my last royalties check* just on re-packaged and re-released short stories, so I know first hand the accuracy of Boyett's assertion: the savvy new media consumer doesn't give a rat's ass about the so-called stamp of legitimacy bestowed by a middleman. That's just what we've been led to believe by those who have a vested interest.  Whatever services those middlemen do provide (and there ARE unquestionably value-added services in the mix), legitimacy in the eyes of the new media generation is not one of them.

At a time when most authors are still defining the formula for success as the traditional agent plus New York contract, this news might sound ominous. To the new media entrepreneurs and consumers, well… it can't happen fast enough.

I'm ready.

peace and passion,

* One third of the way into its 2nd month, Purple Prosaic has earned two-thirds of its 1st month revenue.

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