Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Ship has Sunk! There are Sharks! Modern Publishing is Lost at Sea! (The Blog Carnival Cometh).

Imagine that there has been a great shipwreck, and we are all in the water together. The land isn't far away, but there are sharks.

Six old men get into the only lifeboat. They are professionals and have had a lot of big meals over the years. They know they should swim for the island, but they are scared. Those big meals have led to lots of extra weight they can't easily shift. They know if they strike for the island, most of them will go down. The ones that do make it will lose limbs, and be nothing like what they were before. In the meantime, the tide carries the lifeboat further away from the island, making it harder by the hour for these six old men to survive.

Everybody else is in the water on their own. Some people grab broken doors, dining tables, anything they can find that will float. They head for the island together. But you can't be saved by consensus. One person has to take charge, and its not going to be you.

All the rest strike out on their own. Some are stupid, and think they have a much higher chance of survival than they do. Perhaps they can't even swim. These are the first to die. Some are stupid but lucky. A very few that seemingly had no chance will make it to the island anyway. There are only so many sharks, and determination beats tiredness.

Some have a much higher chance. Perhaps they are really good swimmers. Perhaps they know how to deal with sharks. Perhaps they have a ten year marketing plan, lol.

You know the score, right? The Agency Six publishers languish in the lifeboat. They might be the last to fall, but only an idiot would swim away from land to climb onto the lifeboat for temporary safety. Those committees trying for land, they are the small publishers. They are doing the same thing indies are doing, but they are doing it together.

Which is great if you need the support of your peers. If you need someone to decide your books title, or the cover art. If you want someone to manage your career (read: tell you what to write) or wipe your ass for you, then this is the best option.

I'm not mocking the small pubs. They offer a much needed service. They do it better than the bigger ones. These are the guys that for the most part will survive the storms ahead.

The self-publishing indies are heading for the shore on their own. Some are no talent hacks, and can't swim. Most of these will go down. A few lucky ones will make it through. Of the rest, the ones with real talent, they'll make it to the island.

In fact, some of them already have. Tomorrow you'll hear from 12 writers already on that island, as they tell you just why they they struck out on their own. Furthermore, you'll hear from 2 writers still in the sea, ignoring the "you'll never make it," cat-calls of the folk in the lifeboat as they drift further from safety.

At the end of the day, survivals down to your own choices no matter which path you take. But in tomorrow's blog carnival you may find the inspiration you need to decide one way or the other, especially if you've been on the fence.

There's been a fight brewing between self-pubs and trad-auths for a while. Remember, either way, we are all still writers. Some better than others (some probably delusional) but all writers.

So, whichever route you choose, good luck.


  1. Hey! Are you mocking my 10 year marketing plan? :P

  2. Methinks those guys in the boat need some towing done. I'll help 'em... for a price. If they want to reach that shore, they're going to have to start treating writers like artists, and not like slave labor.

  3. @zoe sorry, I'll make it more obvious next time, ;p

    @Levi lol at slave labour; that's exactly how authors are treated

  4. One person has to take charge, and its not going to be you.

    You said that because you didn't expect me to read this, right?

  5. Joe Konrath's on my blog, omg! You know you're like a self-publishing celebrity, right?

    In that situation, you'd be going with a small publisher, and the CEO of the company would be in charge.

    In your situation, you've built a hut on the island, you're sitting on your deck chair watching us all struggle against the tide, and each time someone else staggers out of the surf and collapses on the sand, you go down and give them a coconut.

    It's amazing how far this analogy stretches.

    And you're right, I didn't think you'd read this...

  6. Al this talk about an Island, people swimming got myself thinking about the TV series LOST.

    It's not that Island is it?