Tag: popularity

19Oct

The Slow Motion Suicide of Publishers

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.)

7Oct

Is the Digital Revolution Sustainable?

Every now and again I can’t help but to slip into thinking about technology, being a technologist. Sitting at LACNOG, listening to the various presentations on the state of the Internet in Latin America. And this leads me to the question –is the digital revolution sustainable?

Why do we believe that jobs where we are paid really good money to do work that can be systemized, written in a manual and/or exported are going to come back ever? The internet has squeezed inefficiencies out of many systems, and the ability to move work around, coordinate activity and digitize data all combine to eliminate a wide swath of the jobs the industrial age created. –Seth’s Blog

The answer Seth supplies is that these physical jobs are being replaced by “unjobs,” a flowing series of things-that-you-do-to-make-money.

When everyone has a laptop and connection to the world, then everyone owns a factory. Instead of coming together physically, we have the ability to come together virtually, to earn attention, to connect labor and resources, to deliver value.

Throughout history, humans have valued intellectual capital over physical capital, so this makes sense. Everyone who can create intellectual capital will be producing higher value output, and hence being paid more. But does this pattern hold?

Economics is based on the concept of scarcity. At one time, books were very scarce, and hence those who had access to intellectual capital was small, and hence they were worth a lot. But what happens to this model when everyone is an artist, everyone is an intellectual?

You might expect the world to shift back to physical capital, or to balance between the two –but that’s not actually what we’re seeing. Instead, what we’re seeing is value being squeezed into the single thing that we can never have more or less of –our attention.

Now books are not published because they are good, or because the author has done a lot of research, or because the author has something valuable to say, but simply because the author is popular. Musicians, artists, authors, bloggers, pastors, politicians –all of these people now talk about their “tribe,” or their “platform.”

“Tribe,” and “platform,” are really nothing more than, “I won the popularity contest.”

Is the digital revolution sustainable? It’s already fallen from a revolution of information to a revolution of popularity. This is a good thing?

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