The first part of this author & audienceÂ series said,Â every person has at least one good story inside them andÂ that story demandsÂ to be beheld. It hurts us and our society when important stories remain â€˜unspokenâ€™.
The second part of this author & audienceÂ series said,Â business systems and processesÂ tend to support (and pressure)Â consistent authors to create best-selling products. Industry workers at all levels ofÂ the publishing systemÂ value the status quo andÂ the main role of todayâ€™sÂ publishing industry is to attract, collect and funnel a few consistent, acceptable authors into the system and to filter out others.
Because the industry is in flux, this old pattern of success is not as dependable as it once was. Therefore, we in publishing need to re-examine our mindset momentum and remember the important underlying principles of our industry:Â Â
The author has a need to connect to their audience + audiences have a need to engage with important stories
The problem is, we have gotten too far from this fact and have begun toÂ believe we are more necessary than we actually are. For decadesÂ publishers convinced both authors and audiences that we middle-people are both the path to getting their needs met and the gatekeepers of what is worthy. But now the great medicine wheel has turned and authors have begun to revolt at being kept off the path of having their stories beheld. Also, audiences have begun to hunger for their generation’s stories and to have those stories offered in ways they love to receive them. Additionally,Â new technologies are enabling both authors and audiences to overthrow theÂ established norms, beliefs, companies, deliveries, and processes.
The wheel keeps turning. If there are indeed â€œtoo many submissionsâ€ then we (innovative small publishers) encourage ourÂ big brethren companies & distributors toÂ continue to vet submissions. In the meantime,Â those-with-stories-that-need-telling and those-that-desire-different-stories will devise methods to meet their needs without you. And we innovative small publishers will help enable that meeting.
If it is still true that today’s publishers and booksellers need to â€œfocus on quantity salesâ€, then hungry niche markets will find ways toÂ meet theirÂ needs directly from the source (authors)Â at good prices throughÂ mass customization.
Almost every industry magazine, website,Â and analyst opinion claimÂ booksellersÂ “canÂ only survive if they purchase titles from the big distributors”.Â However, customers areÂ beginning to realize thatÂ this means stores deem theirÂ book-buying processes to be more important than customer’s needs. And thisÂ is whyÂ customers areÂ looking elsewhere – they are buying elsewhere – andÂ they are becoming more and more comfortable with a new buying process. Our complacency (plus a dependency on volume sales and bean-counter-type decisions) has made us vulnerable to changing conditions.
The bottom-line is this (and has, actually, always been this): Because authors & audiences are the basis of our industry, it is easy for authors & audiences to take back their power. They can easily cut out the middle people, which are us in the publishing and bookselling industry. We bookstores and publishers need to wake up and innovate a new paradigm (a better way of doing business in this environment) if we are to survive.