Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tradpub

Is there a future for it?
Not so much.
Sorry.
When a small group of people, call them elitists for the sake of this post, impose their will on the larger group of people without a dialog taking place, it doesn't end well for the elitists. Maybe they enjoy a good run at the expense of "the little guy" but it doesn't last forever because there's something in the human spirit, pushing in the heart, growing in the mind that wants to be free. The "little people", call them readers or writers, take what they can get and grumble. The grumbling grows but still the elitists don't hear. They don't want to hear. They have their cushy situation, they don't seek change, and they want to impose their tastes and rules on the rest of us. One day some new technology shows up. The Gutenberg printing press. Suddenly the proletariat had access to books. The elitists no longer had a monopoly on education. Now there's digital everything. And international conglomerates can see their hold on us crumbling.

What made me think of this? On a forum some newbie writers were wondering longingly about tradpub, waxing rhapsodic about how these companies would give them publicity and get their books into the stores. It doesn't happen for the vast numbers of books published each year. They're ignored and Stephen King gets the hoopla. Penguin couldn't get my knitting book into Barnes & Noble. That's a big company and they thought it was going to be a big book. They did nothing.

The black swan is not the norm. JK Rowling is not the norm. The tradpub trough is almost empty. My advice--look to the future and take care of yourself.

2 comments:

J.B. said...

I think it's O.K. to point out the flaws that are steadily eroding the profit margins of traditional publishers, but it's also important to focus on the positive: indie publishing is growing strong. Also, I'm sorry to hear about your knitting book. My girlfriend, The Waif, knits a bit. If it's available anywhere and you send me the title, I'll have her check it out.

Best Regards,
JB

Robin O'Neill said...

Tradpub isn't going to die tomorrow and I expect it will be around well past the end of my life. It will be like radio and television learning to live together.

Many writers got their start in radio and migrated to television. Many actors got their start in television and migrated to films. People follow the opportunities and the money by necessity.

Writers should have realistic expectations for tradpub if they choose to go in that direction, but they also need to be realistic about digital.

Write the best book you can.