Book Publishing Enters Myspace Era

The rift between writers and publishers is getting louder.

The writers argue that they can publish directly through Amazon and make physical books on demand.  They can even build their own fans and followers (aka potential buyers) on Facebook and Twitter for free.  Just ask Mark Cuban whom produced at an eBook and marketed it with a few Tweets.

The publishers counter that without their marketing expertise and global store distribution, the writers simply won’t make it.

Both arguments are true.

There’s going to be a huge number of book releases this year, just based on the ease of digital distribution.  Seth Godin believes the number will surpass 1 million.

In order to stand out in the long tail, writers will need to (1) either write something completely different, almost revolutionary, (2) sign up with a publisher that can reach into its bank and push the book into the front of stores, digital and physical.  Remember, a stores’s “Picks of the Month” doesn’t come free.  Or (3) have an an existing fan base of 10k (preferably emails) to sell to.

Of course, even getting the attention of a publisher is also difficult.  The book era is going through the Myspace stage, with so many authors that look attractive yet are really flaky.

The good news is that in writing books, your writing does most of the talking/marketing and doesn’t depend on the way you look or how you sound.  Writers also have an advantage in being generally educated so if they had to learns the rudiments of business they could, unlike musicians that typically care about sound and the partying that surrounds it.

Generalizations aside, the best writers will still stand out from the pack.  Content quality is always key and will find an appreciative audience.

But until the book industry comes up with a universal format like the MP3, going direct like Louis C.K. is not an option.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.