Friday, February 18, 2011

The New Paradigm?

If I hear a particular new concept or opinion three times in short order from three different sources, it's usually a little signal to pay attention.

This week I read someone's blog (I'd have the link here if I could find the blasted thing, but as you can see my middle-aged, drug-and-flu addled brain has forgotten which blog) about authors banding resources in order to form their own publishing company.  DH later questioned if I could join forces with friends looking into publishing our own books "sort of like the actors who formed United Artists."  Then I got an e-mail from an RWA cohort wondering if groups of independent authors would end up forming their own publishing consortiums to keep a majority of their profits.

Is the hive mind already formulating the next step in the publishing chaos?

The idea has its good points.  Consolidation of resources would definitely cut down on individual overhead.  Such a partnership would provide a platform for writers with out-of-the-box stories, a la Tina Engler and Ellora's Cave.  And it would give authors a home where art is as important as profit.

And therein lies the problem.  I've met very few writers whose business sense is as sharp as their storytelling ability.

Some simply don't try, thinking they are beyond such mundane concerns.  Or they want someone to take care of them.  Or sometimes, both.

Some simply don't have the talent.  Acknowledging your shortcomings is not necessarily a bad thing.  For example, I could create my own covers, but I suck at design, and I'm very aware of the fact.

And some people have issues of control.  Or more accurately, letting go of control.  Let's face it.  Writing is a solitary business compared to dance, music or acting.  We writers have a lot of trouble sending out submissions, much less accepting advice from crit partners, agents, or editors.  To paraphrase Lucy Van Pelt, "Ahhgg!  Someone criticized my work!  Get me some hot water!  Get me some soap!"

But could a writers' joint business venture work?  With the right people, yes, I think it could.  As long as I'm in charge.

Seriously though, dear readers, is this something you try?  Why or why not?


  1. For me to consider this, the publishing cohorts business (PCB) would have to have a very clear mission statement. I mean everything would have to be spelled out.

    Also, they would have to employ an advertising genius to get people to their site. Because let's be honest...if this endeavor takes place it's going to be a lot like someone selling their stuff on their own will anyone find them on the WWW? We all have friends who'll buy our books, but Amazon reaches millions.

    I do think if they have an extremely successful author join them it might work. Otherwise I think it would take years for the PCB to really gain enough readership for it to be profitable.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. But it's two cents invested wisely, Tess! You know what you want and what to look for.