This week we’ll take a look at how the future may impact us (authors) and the publishing industry in an ‘Oryx and Crake’ kind of way. I’ll metaphorically compare the publishing industry to an ecosystem, and all the different parts (Publicity Media, Sales Reps, Distributors, Direct Marketers, Editors, Copyright Staff, Printers, etc, etc) are different species living in said ecosystem.
Publishing is a business. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either run out of their medication or has a bank account and bills that don’t rely on income from book sales. As long as the publisher (ecosystem) is flourishing, a steady crop of income can be culled.
Let’s concentrate on Publicity Media. Within this “species” are several types, such as book reviewers, producers, periodical editors, event coordinators, and publicists. Arguably, a book’s sales and revenue would be stunted without the Publicity Media like a kink in a garden hose. If people don’t know a book exists, there is little chance that it will get purchased.
Let’s say a new species, a cost-effective beta policy that relies solely on placing the onus of publicity on the author and their platform called the Money Badger gets introduced into the ecosystem. Depending on the effectiveness of the Money Badger to adapt – by adapt, I mean create a healthier bottom line, and the amount of revenue lost through lack of professional publicity is less than the payroll of the Publicity Media department – the Publicity Media would be overtaken and replaced. If the Money Badger is too successful, it could spread its influence to other species, as well.
Do I think it will happen? Well, as publishers put more and more pressure on authors to advertise and maintain a platform, I’ll say the possibility, however slight, is out there. I like to think that the publishing industry has more of a soul than that.
Then again, as they say, the Money Badger don’t care.