Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness
As technology allowed self-publishing to rise, the Marathon overtook the Tournament as the primary model through which most authors need to view their relationship with books and publishing.
Before the advent of POD and digital books, the primary model of publishing was a tournament.
In fact most “glamorous” or “creative” jobs such as
- allied fields like advertising
any place where very many people want to get into very few available slots, and round after round of attrition winnows down the contenders for the scarce positions.
Whether one’s goal is to be one of the few new authors published by Random House, an artist in an advertising house or painter appearing on a gallery’s wall, life happens. Choices are made. Editing gets put off, portfolios lay incomplete, and canvases remain untouched as lovers arrive, as marriages occur, as children are born, as paying rent becomes too prominent.
Over time, those still competing face fewer and fewer challengers. Eventually, only a few will outlast all the others and grasped those few places on bookshelves, in offices or on gallery walls. No matter who is most talented, best, or is a genius—the ones who survive the tournament win. Everyone else fails. Period.
For books on the Traditional Publishing Path, this means completing a manuscript, getting the help it needs, attracting an agent (or risking the slush pile), both tournaments on their own, and that one won, the author joins the next: convincing an editor to back a book.
Then, this multiple tournament winner must join yet more struggles. Once the book finally appears, the chosen author must not only battle other titles for the publishing house’s limited marketing resources, but then with all other books for shelf space, virtual and not, and then with TV, games, social media, etc. for an audience’s strained attention.
Here, our valiant survivor enters the marathon of promotion: I’ve seen both Stephen King and Umberto Ecco hawking books (Pet Cemetery and Prague Cemetery respectively.)
While there are similarities between marathons and tournaments—both are about lasting—it’s the differences that are key surviving each.
With marathons: as long as you cross the line, you win, no matter how long it takes. Sure, some people get across the goal faster than you, but you do make it in the end.
With current technology, all it takes to skip the tournaments is money and time. Pony up your bucks and buy a starting place in the marathon. Of course, the amount of time and money spent on getting that starting spot can determine if it’s a half or full marathon: more money and time spent on better quality editing, the shorter distance, in theory.
The leap into the Marathon via cash and technology isn’t without it’s issues. Each technology works best for accomplishing specific goals, and next up, we’ll dive into hitting one of the limitations I’d not fully considered: page count, pricing, profit and the realities of marketing.
Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.
To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.