Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Future of Publishing

That was the name of the panel discussion on the Westside of Los Angeles that I attended: The Future of Publishing.

On the panel were a couple of literary agents, one conversant with technology and one who didn't speak, a book consultant specializing in self-published ebooks and print books, two entrepreneurs--one with a company combining ebooks and video, and the other running a small press and a book PR firm, and a successful author covering the film industry.

One of the entrepreneurs met most questions with an answer along the lines of, "I don't know what's going to happen, but it should be exciting." I'm not mocking him. I think all in all, he probably expressed the most truthiness.

While one woman proclaimed that "the time for self-publishing is here, definitely and without doubt," not all agreed. Rather than repeat their (very polite) arguements, here's what I learned:

  • In the last six months, the publishing industry has convulsed and changed more than any other industry.
  • Before 1976 (before Star WArs, iow) two of five published books made money. But that was OK; in publishing up till then, novels had years to make back their investments with slow, steady sales. Now, however, publishers are conglomerates who produce only the cream of the crop, as proffered by agents. The business is Hits-drven and celebrity-oriented.
  • OTOH, there are more opportunities than ever for those willing to venture into self-publishing and ebooks. Remember, though, you still must produce a superior product. Spare no expense on a great cover and editing.
  • The gatekeeper and many middlemen are being eliminated. Everyone can be published, and hopefully the best books will rise to the top. This all means more $$ for authors who get bigger shares of sales for their ebooks, and who don't have to wait months and years for publishers to send them checks for books sold.

All agreed on this: Authors must become marketers. One entrepreneur advised learning as much as possible about the way Itunes works and sells. Reviews and word of mouth will still be important.


mklifman said...

Tx 4 the recap, vick. I really wanted to join you for this. Am not surprised at the upshot of your summary. Will this info redirect your course for marketing 'Death Speaker?'

Vix said...

No, it won't really change the marketing aspect. Everyone's been telling me for at least 5 years, maybe 10, that marketing is the author's responsibility, no matter who publishes you.