Whew, what a week. Did you hang out through the whole thing? You’re awesomesauce. You know that? Here, have a velvet hammer. No, it’s a drink. It’s tasty, I promise. For those of you who are new to The Edge, we’ve been running the Oracle Series, a follow-up to my guest blog post in Rita’s World.
For each day this week, I’ve been exploring the logic behind the predictions that Carlos and I shared in the Writer’s Companion about where the publishing industry will be in ten years. On Wednesday, we took a break from rocking the boat to welcome Rita Webb to The Edge.
Now, for the final predictions that we made in the Writer’s Companion.
Most of the Internet free services to writers will be subscription only.
We meant to write that most of the valuable or relevant Internet content will be subscription only but we exercised restraint. The digital bubble has burst once or twice and it will do it again because the business models (or the lack of one) are untenable. Some people will maintain informative sites without expecting any income, as a hobby or for the hell of it, take your pick.
Other commercial ventures will have to rely on heavier advertising practices to survive; after all, to go by the name of “business” an enterprise is supposed to attempt making money. Services to writers, such as promotion, retail, edition, and review will have to be paid for one way or another, to provide income to whoever has built a website and staffed it. The dream of an Internet where everything is free is… well, a dream, a beautiful dream, but one that shatters before the shrill of an alarm clock.
Traditional writers will be on the road to extinction.
By this we mean the scribes of old (such as Carlos) who would hammer away at keyboards and typewriters sixteen hours each day to complete a manuscript and rejoice when typing THE END.
These writers still linger, but they’ll soon be a memory like the Dodo. The writer of the future will be a hybrid of politician, speaker, pimp, blogger, publicist, hustler, diplomat, and writer—almost as an afterthought.
This has been the easiest prediction to make, because the signs are already upon us. Nowadays, many publishers and literary agents demand that submissions include a sample of the writing and a detailed marketing plan or “platform.” Without a platform, we doubt Conrad reincarnate would manage to publish anything.
Whether you see this as a good or a bad thing, it’s a train that can’t be stopped. Believe me, I’ve tried. If you can’t put yourself out there and be more than “just a writer”, the odds of establishing a writing career are very slim. But you know, it’s not a horrible thing. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention (I know that’s hard for you all to believe) and the idea of putting myself in the middle of the fray of authors I see slogging their way to the top absolutely terrifies me.
But I do it anyway. I swallow the fear and the anxiety and I jump in with enough force to make a tiny wave now and then. And you know what? It’s kinda fun.
I know some of you have different opinions on these last two predictions and I’m eager to hear them. Do you think a writer can be simply a writer, focusing entirely on his craft to the exclusion of marketing and pimping his talented self out? How would he manage to be successful?
We close the Oracle section in the Writer’s Companion with a little bit of advice and I’d like to close this series with the same advice. You may take it or leave it, but it’s well-meaning and I hope new authors at least consider what we’re trying to impart here.
“In closing, we’d like to leave all new writers with this heartfelt counsel: Build a marketing platform concurrently with your fiction writing; create a presence, a following, and expectations. Without it, your chances in the flux of the New Publishing Industry are close to nil.”