Dinosaur = a person or thing that is outdated or has become obsolete because of failure to adapt to changing circumstances (OED)
Daffodil = one of the earliest plants to emerge in spring, heralding a new season of growth and abundance (we hope).
In my view, this is where we’re now at in the continuing evolution of the world of genre fiction - the period when dinosaurs still rule, but daffodils are sprouting.
Qn: Will the dinosaurs turn around and stomp the daffodils into the ground?
Or will they recognize and nurture them so they can feed on the leaves and blooms?
Or will the dinosaurs be unable to sustain themselves on said daffodils and die?
(Note: Daffoldils are narcissi, therefore loaded with narcotics. Who said this wasn’t a good analogy?)
Dinosaur - as Anne Elk said, they are thin at one end, thick in the middle, and thin at the other end (tip of the hat to the Monty Python guys). I’m thinking brontosaurus. To me, publishers look rather like that - a huge body of workers in the middle, but with a long neck and a small head - meaning only a few people at the top with time and the task to look about and see what’s coming, sniff the air, and report back to the huge body. But the head is a long way, communication wise, from the huge body. And I’m not sure that the head spends all that much time looking around anyway, too consumed with the need to graze and feed that huge body.
As for the tail...that’s the analysis side of publishing, which is...well, thin. Not to say tiny. The “recognizing and noting and learning from past mistakes” department, which I’m not sure exists in big publishing at all. There’s always so much focus on dealing with “now” and of course the demands of “now” never end. Looking analytically back at yesterday, then projecting forward to tomorrow...who has time for that?
For me, the daffodils bravely blooming today are the prospects and possibilities for authors that are rising out of the e-book (r)evolution.
The indie authors are leading the way, with Konrath, Wesley-Smith, and a host of others giving support. This is a vibrant community, and one which has much to teach us all - I know I’m watching. Avidly. Excitedly.
So much easier (and safer) to let others blaze the trail, and nurture, feed, and propogate the daffodils.
Which is why I’ve decided to write this blog. Because it’s not good enough for authors like me - traditionally published and settled comfortably in a niche with my name on it in the house of one of the Big6 - to simply sit back and let the revolution roll - and then at the end say: well, if they’d listened to us they wouldn’t have built that fire just there, in just that way, so that it got out of control, burnt all the daffodils, and left us with a lunar landscape.
That’s not a viable argument if we never raised our voices and spoke up in the first place.
So that’s what this blog is: a place where a successful traditionally published author will ask questions and raise issues. Nothing more, nothing less.
Whatever I write here is intended purely to provoke thought, and hopefully discussion. There are few if any absolute truths, definitive rights and wrongs in this business. What works for one may not for another.
But overall directions matter. The skeleton of this newly emerging industry matters - to all authors everywhere - and it’s that skeleton that’s taking shape now. Today.
For established authors, standing back and not sharing our views isn’t helpful. Not to others, and also not to us. If we never speak, no one will hear us. And we - many of whom have been making a good living in this business for over 20 years - might have important insights that need to be addressed if we want this new revolution to play out to the best benefit of all storytellers and their audiences.
Because ultimately that’s who matters in this business - the storytellers and their audiences. Publishers, distributors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers...all those are facilitors in connecting the storyteller to their audience.
How well we all survive - storytellers, audience, and all in between - comes down to how well we all adapt to our changing circumstances.
Those of my peers who are attuned to analogies should be able to point to at least one “fire” already crackling (e-book price point), but that’s for another post.
The point of this first post is to posit this: traditionally published authors need to engage with this new world. It is not in ours or any one else’s best interests to let the revolution roll on without our input.
Authors at all levels need to join together and share our views - traditionally published, self-published, and all in between. As a reader, I don’t look at and don’t care who published the book - I only care about the story.
I’ll close this first post (I was going to call it a virgin post, but thought better of it) with the following observations:
One thing I know beyond question or dispute - I don’t know the answers, I don’t know what the landscape of genre fiction publishing is going to look like 1 year, 3 years or 10 years from now - and neither does anyone else. Period.
I do know that sittng in my lovely library writing my stories and effectively hiding my head in the sand (which I could so easily do) is not going to help me cope with the changes that will inevitably come.
If I have my head down, how am I to avoid a forest fire that someone else might have unintentionally lit?
That happened here on the day they call Black Saturday. People drew their blinds against the heat, sat down with a cold beer, focused on the screen and shut everything else out. They didn’t look out, look up, and see the sky turn red...not until it was too late.
Anyone for United Authors?
Anyone out there in traditonal-publishing land feeling schizophrenically torn between welling paranoical fear and burgeoning hopeful excitement?
One simple question to get the exchange rolling: as this new publishing landscape takes shape, what’s your greatest fear?
CAVEAT: Nothing posted on this blog, or in its comments, should involve commercially sensitive information. Contracted authors please exercise due diligence in your comments.
All blog posts by the author should be viewed as postulation. I love playing devil’s advocate, but I can guarantee my opinions will alter to reflect changing facts.