There’s a lot of talk out on the interwebs this week about the future of publishing: most notably this article in Time. But the thing that’s really blowing my mind is this Publisher’s Manifesto by Sara Lloyd. To my publisher brain, this is the equivalent of reading Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces with my writer-brain: it makes my head fire with ideas I never had before, at a rate that would probably make your average brain-scanner blow up. Each time I go back to it I have a different set of thoughts.
If the Time article predicts a book landscape as alien to us as the shores of the Amazon, the Publisher’s Manifesto makes me reconsider my methods and role: how am I to serve my writers and readers in this shifting landscape? How will the ways I market books change?
The short answer, I currently suspect, is that each work will demand its own methodology. I am already talking with other publishers with whom I swap ideas and support (yes, another shocking idea, that) about the strategies for books they’re publishing. In some cases I can see books becoming the centers of online communities; in others my mind is running towards serialization and online roleplay. Still other stories, I think, must be enjoyed as we have always enjoyed novels. Each of these subgroups will demand a different type of strategy, and each work within these subgroups will become the center of something unique.
This, I think, will become one of my most important jobs as a publisher: helping works find their ways in the wide electronic world. And here’s the key: that’s not the same thing as “publishing digital editions”. I can already see that this will require a remodeling of author-publisher relationships, in ways that I think will be exciting for some, frightening for others.
I don’t have answers yet. But I’m sure having a lot of exciting ideas. Stay tuned…