Friday, August 26, 2011

Look to the Future

Let me repeat something that's already been said elsewhere: publishing is moving into the future at lightspeed velocity.

Writing and storytelling? Not so much. These ancient and honorable arts remain durable, though they may soon take radical new forms—but if you're a practiced practitioner thereof, trust me, you're still gonna be in demand—even if you ain't that all that radical.

But on the business side, wow, I feel like a spectator at an insanely rapid sporting match where the rules keep changing daily and new players can join the game at any moment. You may not even notice them until you collide with them unexpectedly.

A heck of a lot of stuff has happened this week.

John Locke, of whom I'd never heard before a month ago, and whose work I have not yet had a chance to read, just got an Indie writer's dream deal. He keeps all of his e-rights, and all of his more traditional other rights, and Simon and Schuster will print, distribute, and promote his books in paper form. I don't actually know if he got an advance (probably), or has to submit to editing (that's optional, I'm guessing, but he might want to take advantage of that), or if they'll supply the cover art (almost certainly, but he probably retains the final say-so), but any way you slice it, that seems like a really good deal to me.

It's just that I really didn't think such a thing was possible. I thought we were all lined up over here, and they were all dug in over there.

Just shows what I know.

But I'll damn sure be keeping it in mind. I'd like to have a print publisher someday, but I don't want to give up my e-rights. And I'll bet I'm not the only one who feels that way.

I'm reminded of an interview with musician Steve Miller that I saw in Guitar Player magazine back in the 1970s:

"--but what we did was we really revolutionized the contract. Everybody wanted us; we had we had three major companies really bidding for us. They could see that we were better than most of the bands that were around at that time. So we negotiated for about ten months, and we got all of our studio costs, half the advance, a five album contract; we were given complete control over pictures, advertising, anything they did on us. It had to be approved by us, which was unheard of then. Plus, we got a really hot royalty. We were making twice what the Beatles or the [Jefferson] Airplane were making on royalties. Then we turned around and just gave it away to Quicksilver [Messenger Service] and everybody else--[we] said, "Hey, this is what a contract is." Because it was my attitude that record companies had always historically cheated musicians."

In other news, Smashwords has finally announced that they'll be distributing to Amazon by the end of this year.

For me, these are welcome tidings. The next item on my agenda was going to be investigating what it would take to publish on Amazon—I'm aware of their "Amazon Direct" option, but I don't yet know the specifics (though I'll certainly investigate the matter when I can find the time)—but my gut tells me I'm better off just focusing on my writing now, because there's no way I can have my next book ready for publication any sooner than late November anyway, and if Smashwords is at last ready to put my books on Amazon, I'm just as happy to let them.

So for now, I'm thinking, the future looks bright.

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