As self-publishing in ebook format becomes more and more popular, publishing professionals are beginning to wonder about their status in the ever changing market place.
Before the ebook craze, there was a rather tight filter in place that distinguished what got published and what didn’t:
Author writes book. Agent likes book. Editor likes book. Publisher publishes book.
But with the ebook craze, this filter has been replaced with another:
Author publishes book. Author promotes book. People read book and decide if they like it and want to promote it. Author makes a profit.
Now, instead of a privileged few deciding if a book is worth reproducing in mass, an entire population of readers are the ones who make the call and decide who rises and who sinks. Like in the older publishing system- few authors actually make it past a few hundred books sold. But the filter and the financial investment required to make a best seller has completely changed.
When I woke up this morning I was led to two different posts talking about the current revolution. One is An Open Letter to Agents by Courtney Milan. The other is Rachel Gardner’s ‘How Do You Become A Literary Agent’. Both explore the current changes and how they are affecting an agent’s roll.
And after reading and thinking it all over, I must admit I’m feeling…tired.
I’m glad that the world is changing- that authors who might have never had a chance in the old system are perhaps thriving in the new. But I’m also sad for everyone in the publishing industry whom this might negatively effect.
I’m also a little conflicted. Stories are a form of entertainment used since the beginning of time. Like music and theater- they are all just ways of taking a break from our mundane lives and experiencing something off the grid. And in a society where work has been simplified and regulated and free time is much more abundant than it was a hundred years ago- keeping ourselves entertained has gone up in worth and esteem. Why else would we pay so much to see a movie? Buy a video game? Go to a concert? Or a sporting match?
Are we perhaps paying too much and giving too much importance to things which are, in general, created to pass the time? Couldn’t this money be going towards a more worthy cause like saving lives or creating a better world?
However, even if imagination and talent might be free, I think the work put into creating should be compensated. A fair compensation isn’t an easy thing to agree on. What it really depends on is what people are willing to pay. But this whole revolution brought on by the internet and the ease with which it is now possible obtain free music/movies/books has made everyone take a step back and rethink the price of modern day entertainment.
What do you think is fair compensation for someone who creates or helps create entertainment for the masses, whether it be an athlete- an author- an actor and all the little guys in between?