With the old economics destroyed

With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

Clay Shirky

4 thoughts on “With the old economics destroyed”

    • 1- Why?

      2- What is your genre?

      3- What can they do for you that can’t do or pay for?

      3.5 – What is that worth to you over the next few decades?

      4- How fast do you want to reach the market?

      There is no single answer for everybody but the questions cover pretty much everything that matters to somebody.


    • For me, the basic questions are:
      1. How much will a publisher cost you?

      2. What benefits will a publisher provide you?

      3. How certain are you that the publisher will provide the benefits promised?
      – Are each of the benefits your agent or the publisher told you you would received set forth in detail in the publishing agreement? Not generally, but specifically.
      – A national book tour? Where does the contract is the tour described? How many cities – name them. What specific bookstore(s) will you appear in for each city? (Joe’s Bait Shop and Paperback Book Store won’t cut the mustard.)
      – What costs will be covered? Airfare and airport transportation to/from each airport is a must. Will the publisher pay for someone to travel with you so you can be certain to arrive at the hotel the publisher is paying for (including meals charged to your room)? Will this helper cab or drive you to each bookstore where you’ll be appearing? And take you back to the hotel or the airport to fly to your next destination?
      – Is the description of each of the benefits specific enough so you and the publisher will each know if the publisher has delivered on this promise – number of major cities in the tour, specific bookstores specified so they don’t have you sit in a small college bookstore that will draw only undergraduates?
      – Incidentally, payment for each of these items, including decent restaurant or hotel meals is standard for business travel in other businesses. A minder may not be provided if you’re in a city with lots of cabs and your appearances are all in the city proper, instead of a distant suburb. Business travelers can rely on descriptions like, “reasonable business expenses incurred during corporate travel,” but an author needs more because reasonable business expenses for Proctor & Gamble business travel will be close to the standard because zillions of P&G employees travel each business day while East Bronx Romance Publishers doesn’t have the same corporate travel volume.

  1. Advances in technology eliminate activities that once were vital. Usually they are welcomed. The process is simplified. But books are very odd. Many seem to value the complex process as much as the end result. They wouldn’t think of taking a wagon train to cross the country, and would find it strange to use an operator to place a phone call, but they yearn for the days of queries, agents, advances, earn-outs, and book signings. Individual tastes and preferences.

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