In today’s publishing environment, there would never be a Shakespeare. Nor a C.S. Lewis, or J.R.R. Tolkien. If you don’t tweet, youtube, blog, stumble on, Facebook, or otherwise gain Klout, then you’re not a potential author.
When we (agents) submit proposals to publishers, we pay special attention to the part of the proposal that explains who the author is and what makes up their platform. And what publishers want to see is your platform expressed in numbers. So from the beginning, you as an author should be thinking this way… All publisher marketing is metric-driven these days. That’s one of the beauties of Internet marketing—everything is quantifiable. –Rachelle Gardner
No longer do publishers take on the task of finding someone with a lot of potential and something interesting to say, someone who’s a good writer with solid, but interesting ideas, and bring them along. Publishers are only interested if you’ve already done all the marketing —and, increasingly, all the writing and editing, too.
If the author must do all their own marketing (build their own “tribe”), do the writing, and then take care of the editing, what is the publisher actually doing? It certainly seems like popular (and Christian) publishers want to come in at the end of the process of someone becoming famous and grab a little money for themselves off the already popular author’s coattails.
Much of the publishing industry is so far down this road that there is a rising tide of ghost publishing –less and less of what you see published under a person’s name is actually written by that person. A “good name” is “chosen,” writers hired to “ghost write” under that name, and the buying public has no idea that this is all going on behind the scenes.
Rather than building a strong brand, publishers are relying on the personal brand of others to do their selling. In the process, publishers are committing suicide.
When publishing falls to the tribe mentality, is there much left except the tribe any longer? When popularity (or Klout) becomes the only meaningful measure of a person, what is the point of personhood? If Christian publishing has become nothing but a popularity contest, what does this say about the future of Christianity?
As the publishing industry goes, our entire culture goes. Something to think about.
(update: Rachelle has a post replying to criticism of her column even before I got to posting this –you can read it on her blog. She says (paraphrasing), “publishers didn’t create this, we’re just trying to live with it.” It doesn’t matter who created it. When every brand is a person, and every attempt to “get through the noise,” is a popularity contest, publishers have no place in the world.)