The Great Publishing Wars of 2012
In a decade, after the zombies have taken over the world and are hunting down the last of the vampire empire, they will look back at the great publishing wars of 2012 and go: huh?
I’ve retreated on the tactical front in the war for the past month as I am under deadline and writing a book I’m excited to share with my readers. It’s really hard to pull myself out of the snark and action in my current WIP, Area 51: Nightstalkers, and go back to social media.
I’ve been thinking a lot about publishing and have changed my views in a number of ways.
I think there is a tipping point in social media for authors. Where it begins to detract rather than attract. Where you are turning more people off than you are being of interest to. Especially if you are on one side or the other in the indie vs. trad vs. small publisher vs. print vs. eBook vs. the Martians vs. the indie bookstore vs. the chain vs. Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble vs. Kobo, vs. well, whatever the hell one wants to be versus. When one is versus, then one has alienated a segment of the population. I had an agent who ran a conference I taught at a couple of times email me and say I wouldn’t be invited to the conference because she was an agent, and I was like, huh? What did I do to agents? I guess saying that traditional publishing died in March 2012 didn’t go over well.
I also think the whole author/social media thing has become a little too incestuous. It’s authors talking to authors. Yes, I know, there are readers out there, but when we take a close look at who is talking to us on most social media sites, it’s other writers. I look at a lot of the really successful authors and their focus first is on content AND getting that content to readers. They aren’t too concerned with the publishing wars, except in terms of how to run their own business. Key words in that sentence are how to run their OWN business. In fact, to be frank, the really successful people in publishing right now are the ones who make the most money off of any war: the ones who work behind the scenes and supply both sides with needed supplies. The most critical supply needed in publishing is content. One can have the best whiz-bang device, app, brand, hat, distribution, yada, yada, but it still comes back to content. We got Cool Gus Publishing running two years ago and it took a lot to build it into a seven-figure business in less than 18 months after a whopping total of 3 eBook sales our first month. Now we’re shifting from focusing on the actual business structure to increasing our content.
For me, I’ve thrown out a flag of truce in the publishing wars. I don’t have the time or energy or really the inclination to take one side over the other. My focus is on content and running my publishing company. I’ve got a conference call next week with a non-fiction writer I’ve known for a long time and we’re hoping to put out some of her old backlist that pre-dates eBooks and we’re really excited about it. We just put out Your Brain on a Bike by John Brent Pye and have other titles in the pipeline, including those from Colin Falconer and Shannon Donnelly that we’re focusing on.
One thing we’ve learned during our time in the publishing wars is that one is just as likely to be wrong as right. And even if one is correct for now, if one’s situation changes, they might be singing a different tune in just six months. That’s how fast things are changing. There are two key factors in determining a course of action: the overall situation and one’s personal situation. That means every single person in the wars is in a different situation. Thus there is no one ‘right’ position. As often noted during wars, when each side claims God is on their side, both sides cannot be right. If they are, then it is a God with a very nasty sense of humor.
Fear. Every war brings fear. And I still see fear ruling too many players in this game. The successful people are the ones who, as my book titles says: Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way to Conquer Fear & Succeed. There are still too many people looking over their shoulders, wishing for the old days to come back. In fact, I’ve literally heard people say: watch, eBooks will die out and print will come storming back.
Uh, no. That’s like saying that tank fad thing will go away since they use gas and mechanics and are noisy and expensive to make; and the horse, which lives off the land and are easy to reproduce and cheap to maintain, will make a comeback. The biggest argument for the return of the cavalry was the nobility of it. A dashing man on horseback with a saber looks a lot better than some grunt inside a tank with his main cannon. Yep, lots of people arguing that in the 20s and 30s. Tell it to Poland and France after Blitzkrieg.
In essence, my position now is that I’m focusing on doing what I’m supposed to be doing: producing content and running a business. I’ll keep track of how the wars are going, but the nature of a war is, once people choose sides, they very rarely are willing to surrender and switch sides. So it will be interesting to watch.