Sun 27 Jan 2013
In the bad old days, ebooks didn’t exist and publishers were the royals, ruling over all the reading landscape from their lofty castles.
Readers were common folk and publishers listened to them the same way politicians listen to voters – which is to say – not a’tall. And even though publishers built their castle from money they made by selling writer’s books, they considered the writers commoners and they didn’t listen to the writers either. All the nasty dealing with the commoners was done by minions called literary agents. The minions made their living from the writers work too, but even they didn’t want to deal directly with the people who made it possible for them to not only survive, but to have direct access to the royals. So the minions only dealt with commoners who petitioned them properly – from afar and as briefly as possible.
And the readers? They read what the minions and the royals thought they should read. They had to, because there was nothing else. The royals controlled the workers who bound and printed the books. How did the readers hear about the new books? What made them think that these books were worthy of their hard-earned money? The royals and the minions had vast networks of trumpeters and town criers who went about, shouting the merits of the books the royals and minions wanted the readers to buy. And so the readers did buy. What else could they do?
Then one day, a new Castle was built by a company called Amazon. The company said it would change the world by dealing directly with the writers, valuing the opinions of the readers, and bypassing the printed books. They would deliver ebooks directly to readers who would screen the work for themselves, deciding whether or not to buy. And those readers could return to the Amazon and leave their thoughts and opinions about the work right on the Castle walls, for all to see. These reviews would tell future browsers what books they might enjoy.
And so the world changed. Even the royals had to travel to the Amazon and others came in to build Castles called Smashwords and Nook and KOBO. And the royals had to travel there too, for these days, the readers had become emboldened by having their power acknowledged. The readers didn’t want their work pre-screened by the minions and the royals. Readers could decide for themselves and they did, in vast numbers, helped along by those words scrawled on the Castle walls.
But still – there was something missing. An advantage still lay in the hands of the minions and the royals. ‘Twas those bloody trumpeters and town criers. The readers and the writers lacked those. What could be done about that? The writers despaired because great work went unread. Readers despaired for books they had discovered and loved and scrawled about on the Castle walls – they went undiscovered.
Then one day, a reader was shouting to a reader friend along a vast roadway about a wonderful new ebook. At the end of the message, the reader friend decided to pick up the book his comrade liked so well. And the reader friend shouted back to the reader, “Why, I heard that message loud and clear. You shout as well as a town crier!”
That’s when the reader realized she had undervalued her own worth. Not only could she scrawl an opinion on the Castle wall — she could cry to her friends about the work. Each reader could also be a town crier!!
Lo, it came to pass that the reader not only cried to the friends she met about her favorite ebooks, she took the message to her friends from afar via her personal message networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Email and her blog.
Yes, readers – today the playing fields are still far from equal. The Castle walls of the royals have crumbled and commoners wander in and out amongst the minions. The minions and the royals can no longer have absolute and total control of what readers can and cannot read. But wait — while the minions and the royals lack total control, they still have EFFECTIVE CONTROL over which ebooks thrive and which molder in relative obscurity. For the minions and the royals can still afford to pay an army of town criers!!!
Such publicity machines often work all too well to convince readers that they should only spend their money for certain books. If that means they should avoid others, well, that’s what they’ll do. After all, they’ve never heard any publicity about THOSE books…..
This is a call to arms dear reader friends. The publishing revolution is not yet complete. The overthrow will culminate only when readers become town criers. If you like a book, by all means, leave a review at your site of purchase. But that is the beginning and not the end of your task. Once you’ve scrawled your endorsement on the Castle walls, you must take to the real and the virtual streets. Tell your neighbors and email, facebook and tweet your online friends and followers. Post your review on your blog and mention it on other sites you visit.
All the power will flow to the readers only when they seize it and claim it.
So — seize the power. Be the publicity machine. Become a town crier and —
TWEET ‘EM IF YOU LIKE ‘EM!!!