2011 saw great change. 2012 will bring even more. 10 predictions below.
The reality is, to thrive and not just survive, everyone in publishing must be willing to change on a dime and innovate. My background in Special Forces taught me how to do that. Also, it taught me that to succeed, I must take risks. The company isn’t called Who Dares Wins for nuthing (as we say in da’ Bronx).
What do I see for 2012 in publishing from the perspective of someone who spent two decades in traditional publishing and two years in indie publishing?
- One big thing lurking is a major trad author who goes indie, once they crunch the numbers on their royalty statements (which are still working via the Pony Express rather than the Internet) and realize their loyal readers will follow them regardless of which imprint the book is published under and how their royalty rate can skyrocket on their own. I still feel the fear coming off many authors about abandoning traditional publishing, even though trad publishing will dump them in a hearbeat if the P&L statement isn’t favorable. And gives them very lousy royalty rates and restrictive contracts to boot. Fear will kill you.
- Slow will also kill you. I’d forgotten that “I’ll get back to you next week” in traditional publishing equals “I might get back to you in a few months, but likely never” in the real world. That’s not going to cut it in the electronic age. Five years ago, when describing publishing, I’d use two terms: SLOW and TECHNOPHOBIC. Both are killers today. And they’re still damn slow. Tick-tock says the reaper.
- Agents as publishers. Yep, every agent wants to make a living and keep their clients. So they’re cobbling together some “experts” and offering services to their clients. I’m not even going to weigh in on whether it’s ethical, my issue is can they do it? Being an agent is not being a publisher. It took almost two years to get feet on the ground with Who Dares Wins Publishing. Can an agent do it? Can their clients afford to go through their growing pains and mistakes?
- Authors as publishers: ditto. I call myself indie, but in a blog post earlier this year I pointed out the term “self-publishing” is a dangerous one. I’m not self-publishing. I’ve got a company. I can’t do it all myself. I think the success stories from self-publishing will occur, but be few and far between. What will happen is agents and publishers will use self-publishing as the new slush pile, letting the author do all the work, and then scoop in. Nothing wrong with that. I think it gives authors a fairer shot by letting readers and thei authors’ own initiative and work ethic count a lot more than the vagaries of the unpaid intern reading the slush pile.