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You Gotta Serve Somebody
By Scott Nicholson
You know the players.
They have a good thing at home, a sweet and loyal mate who takes care of them and fulfills their every need.
But they cant resist a little on the side. Its not even about need, because they are already fulfilled. Its the curiosity, the dim hope or fear that maybe that side action is somehow the secret awesome soul-mate thing they talk about in books.
Or maybe they are scared to death of exclusivity, because all their hopes, dreams, and book sales are pinned to that loyal partner. And how much do you really know about that partner after all? Huh?
Yes, writers in the digital age sometimes have too many choices. A few short years ago (an entire epoch in technological evolution), we signed a deal with a publisher and hoped it worked it out. We deeply suspected wed eventually get dumped, and with no alimony, but we couldnt help but dream it was a love that would last forever. And our publisher was a jealous mate, often shackling us to the bedposts and not even allowing us to look out the window at other prospects.
Now we have all the partners we want. Promiscuous publication. Unsafe text. As many places to sell our books as we can seduce someone into posting. The new indie freedom means never having to say Youre the only one for me.
I think that freedom is also a different kind of prison. Ive even been preaching, Diversification is the key to survival when everything is changing so rapidly and in such unforeseen ways.
So we run our books through Amazon, BN, Smashwords, Apple Kobo, Overdrive, Xinxii, and the myriad of small online bookstores that we arent even sure exist. Has anyone ever actually sold a Google book? Or a Diesel book?
But what if one good publisher wanted a true partnership and lured you to the altar with dreamy promises of Happy Ever After?
First, dash cold water in your face. There is no happy ever after in publishing. At the luckiest, you will amass enough money to take care of yourself in your old age, but weve all been to those writing conventions where theyre holding a charity auction for the old and sick living legend who somehow lost everything, including the rights to their own work.
But that doesnt mean it might not be worth a shot. Amazon has announced its lending library, and reports say indie authors will be allowed inwith the catch of exclusivity. Yes, your book could only be distributed through Amazon.
On the face of it, thats a true horror after weve fought so hard for our freedom and stormed the Bastille andoh, wait. We actually did nothing but get lucky. We were sitting right here writing when Amazon launched the indie age for us.
Bob Dylan sang, You gotta serve sum-bahd-ah. At some point, probably soon, we may have to decide which market, or few markets, will be the beds we are making to lie down in. A rental library is not only inevitable, its a no-brainer idea that should have happened years ago. Dont be surprised if every major market, and every major publisher, soon launches some form of a rental library. The wide-open egalitarianism sparked by dozens of markets acting in their own best interests (opening their doors to scads of easy content they didnt have to develop) may constrict and narrow as the partners get jealous and controlling.
The device wars will likely be over in a year or two, and then the real lovers spat erupts. Its ultimately a content war, as Apple demonstrated with the music business (and a nice 30 percent off the top, thank you very much).
Youre going to have to serve somebody. It might be a good idea to make sure its someone you love. An even better idea may be making sure it loves you back.
CREATIVE SPIRIT is Scott Nicholsons revised edition of the 2004 U.S. paperback THE MANOR. Scott is Kindle bestselling author of 12 novels, including THE RED CHURCH, DISINTEGRATION, LIQUID FEAR, and SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD. Connect with Scott on Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Twitter, blogspot, website or Amazon page. Hes also written The Indie Journey to help writers find happiness in their careers. Its available at available at Amazon, BN.com, and Smashwords.
(This article may be freely shared, published, distributed, etc. as long as my byline and the ending bio material appeare with the article.)
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