Indies and eBooks: Saviors of the Industry! – Nor any drop to drink

So, here we are again. In my previous entries I’ve laid out my belief that independents and ebooks are going to actually save the publishing industry. The last post even went so far as to suggest one of the ways this could work. But after all is said and done, there’s still a problem that can’t be glossed over.

Even as eBook sales start to rise, they haven’t dramatically increased the number of readers. For every new eBook sold, that really isn’t a “new” customer so much as it’s one less traditional book sold. Obviously, if publishers started to follow through on the eCommerce side of things that would only get worse. But there’s still hope.

A few years ago there was a poll conducted that showed that 1 in 4 adults in the United States hadn’t read a single book in 2006. This is pretty damn grim, especially when we can catch photos like this:

 

This is how Planet of the Apes happened people. Sure, the newest movie suggests that it was science gone awry. But let’s all be honest, if James Franco’s character in that movie had read a few more books he would have realized literature long ago warned us of the dangers of a smart ape turning on its masters.

worse than illegal immigration

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Indies and eBooks: Saviors of the Industry! – Water Water Everywhere

In my last post I made some declarations. Some of them, admittedly, are either common sense or a little crazy. But I still believe in the basic premise of everything I have said and will say.

Independents are the key to the publishing industry revitalizing and stepping into the future. To do this, they’re going to have to make heavy use of the eBook format that is sometimes despised by what we’re going to go ahead and call “traditionalists”.

But I’d be a real dick to just leave it there and not explain how exactly I figure they can do this. People can make claims like that all they want and just be speaking from their ass. But that’s not how I roll.

So let’s get some examples going, shall we?

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Independents and eBooks: Saviors of the Industry! An Introduction

Okay, first of all, I know I’m late. But this could have been next September so what are you complaining about? Second, yeah, I know that title is writing a little more than I can cash. Third, I totally believe it to be true.

There’s been a recent upheaval in the publishing community as it realizes that independents are on the rise and eBooks are taking a great deal of the wind out of the sails of the traditional book. Some people have embraced this and have decided that this format and this movement needs all the support it can get. But, in my opinion, it’s not nearly enough.

For a long time there’s been a stigma around the idea of the independent author. They’re shut out of most of the writing unions and guilds, they rarely qualify for any of the award ceremonies and getting your work reviewed by a professional can be troublesome and requires some doing. Then, after all of that, if they happen to be a big hit they aren’t acknowledged until someone signs to publish more of their work. Up until that point you’re not just excluded from the industry – some might blame you for the recent decline in sales. In no other industry is someone treated like a leper for striking it out on their own as much as they are in publishing.

The music industry has embraced several independent talents over the years. Hell, in recent years that seems to be their lifeblood. The film industry devotes entire festivals to their independents. But authors? You better hope you don’t ever need someone to piss on you if you get set on fire. Not only will they not do it but the only liquid that might get tossed on the flames is a little of the stuff they’ve been passing off as water.

 

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eXhaustion and the “eVil” of eBooks

Keeping up with the internet as a writer can sometimes be a bit taxing. With all of the expectations placed on independent writers, the idea that you then have to continue to put out content can be unreasonable and stressful. Honestly, I realized this some time back when my self-publishing experiment turned out to suck more than I thought it would and I found myself burnt out on all of the little facets of self-promotion required.

I know most people who start writing blogs or opening twitter accounts happen to treat it like some sort of hobby, but it’s always been part of my work for me. It’s not that I dislike writing (obviously, look at the length of my posts) but I’ve always wanted my stories to speak for themselves rather than me rambling on in their place. I don’t feel all that interesting most of the time. And when my work was suffering in the past, and boy did it suffer, I lashed out a little bit at the social networking and web logging thing.

“Oh my god,” you’re saying sarcastically, “an emotionally unbalanced writer?!”

Yeah, well, let’s get something straight, I didn’t burn out because I’m emotionally unbalanced (though aren’t we all?). I burnt out because there’s aspects of the industry which suck hard, like the vacuum of space, and they don’t tell you squat about it until you actually get into the thick of things. You really don’t learn it until you’re slugging it out with people in a public forum.

But along the way it does start proving itself useful. You get a feel of the communities, you get a feel of the culture. In a way, you can use social media as a way of studying people and how they think. And eventually there are things you start to see as trends of thought on the internet, as you’re swimming through everyone’s stray thoughts and updates on their lives. In the process of seeing that, I realized there’s something that needs to be said.

To put it simply: Technology and progress are not the enemy of art.

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