August 8th, 2008


Statements for the Future

One of the things the Prime debate has reignited in me is the belief that eventually there will be a change in publishing, similar to that which is currently happening in music, and which will result in well known authors forming their own imprints to control their own work.

It will not be a collective, in that the authors will band together and form their own print, but rather a series of authors who, having grown tired and dissatisfied for whatever reason with publishers--lack of communication, lost money, buried books, or even simply a desire to be in control--will step away from these firms. The technology is reaching the point that the actual physical creation of a book is not hidden from an author, nor out of reach, and given the rise in self employed and contract work in all professions, the professionals that they can employ, much like a publishing house does, is not out of their reach either. Eventually, I believe, writers will be drawn to controlling their own work because they can employ editors who passionate about the same work, who understand their intent, and to cover artists they connect with, and so on and so forth--just as those professions will work with authors they connect with. What will happen will be similar fashion to what bands such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have done, to pick the obvious examples.

Understand, I don't think it will happen now, or even soon. As Deb Layne (deborahlive) points out in the comments of my last post, "Writers can form their own "publishing houses" and publish under that imprint, but they still carry the scent of Vanity Publishing. And for now at least, Vanity Publishing has a whole different meaning in books from what it's equivalent has in music, you know?" She's right, of course, and it's strange that in literature, self publishing is seen not, as it is in music or even in comics, as putting your money where your mouth is, or controlling your work, but rather as a vanity, as the last ditch attempt of a desperate author who cannot be published by legitimate publishers. To an extent, the reputation is earned because there are hundreds of bad self published novels out there, each one of them as wretched as the next (the same, however, is true for the music and comic industries)... but yet, despite this, I do believe there will be a change, eventually.

This does not mean, of course, that publishers will disappear, nor that they should. There are good publishers out there, and there will always be authors who prefer to not take the huge responsibility or getting their book ready for publication, distribution, and so forth, and honestly, I don't think publishers should disappear.

Rather, I believe there will be a change in how things happen. Maybe in the next ten years, maybe more, maybe less.

Will it work?

Well, that, I suppose, only time will prove.