This post, from literary agent Richard Curtis, originally appeared on the E-Reads Publishing In the 21st Century blog on 8/17/09.
Is the book business beginning to feel like the movie business? An article by the New York Times‘s Michael Cieply might reinforce the similarities.
Cieply reports that, unlike filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino who landed huge studio deals at the Sundance Film Festival, today’s aspiring young movie makers have got to finance everything, investing in themselves on the speculation that lightning will strike in the form of financing and distribution by a major studio. As more and more authors throw in the towel in despair of landing a book deal with a big publisher, they are publishing their own books and underwriting every step from editorial to publicity.
Are there other ways to compare Cieply’s description of the film industry with the current state of publishing? Let us count them, and to help you, I’ve taken the liberty of extracting some of Cieply’s descriptions and substituting language that might reinforce the idea that New York is a lot closer to L. A. than a five hour flight on the red-eye.
The glory days of independent film [first novels], when hot young directors [authors] like Steven Soderbergh and Mr. Tarantino had studio [publishing] executives tangled in fierce bidding wars at Sundance [Book Expo, Frankfurt] and other celebrity-studded festivals, are now barely a speck in the rearview mirror. And something new, something much odder, has taken their place.
Here is how it used to work: aspiring filmmakers [authors] playing the cool auteur [literary lion] in hopes of attracting the eye of a Hollywood power broker [major New York literary agent].
Here is the new way: filmmakers [authors] doing it themselves — paying for their own distribution [self-publication], marketing films [books] through social networking sites and Twitter blasts [social networking sites and Twitter blasts], putting their work up free on the Web to build a reputation, cozying up to concierges [maitre d’s] at luxury hotels [chic publishing watering spots] in film festival cities [New York] to get them to whisper into the right ears.