I originally intended this blog post to be about the difficulty of securing the first notable literary review—how this was even more important for POD books because without a reputable publishing house’s mark of approval, there needs to be some vetting process to separate the wheat from the chaff. I then began to wonder if the evolution of literature would follow that of its sister industry: film.
Once upon a time there was no such thing as indie films. The Hollywood’s Studio oligopoly which, according today’s codification of all knowledge, Wikipedia, “controlled the production, distribution, and exhibition of films in the US from the early 1920s through 1950s.”
After the 1948 deregulation of the film industry, there was a thirty-year shakeout—low budget filmmaking, B movies, etc.—where Hollywood fought the invasion a new era of filmmakers who were outside of their control. This era produced a lot of bad directors making forgettable movies. It also produced some brilliant directors (Raymond Abrashkin, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty) making unforgettable ones (Little Fugitive, Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde).
In 1981, the Sundance Institute was formed, giving legitimacy to the burgeoning indie film industry. Now, there is healthy coexistence between indie films and Hollywood, with the Studios using the annual Sundance festival as a socialized vetting of the next indie blockbuster hits such as Reservoir Dogs, Little Miss Sunshine and Juno.
It’s obvious where I’m taking this blog. With indie literature, we’re in shakeout years. The 1990s introduction POD technologies are equivalent to the 1940’s advent of the inexpensive portable video camera. Now anyone can easily publish a book and have it distributed through online distribution channels like Amazon, Barns & Noble.com, etc. There are a lot of bad authors publishing forgettable novels. There are some brilliant authors publishing some unforgettable ones.
Like Hollywood before them, major publishing houses have decried POD-published books as vanity books suitable only for friends and family who were obligate to buy them. Really? What about Lisa Genova who couldn’t find a traditional publisher for her novel Still Alice and so decided to publish it through POD publisher iUniverse. Peddling the book out of the trunk of her car let to a NYT bestseller list led to a half-million dollar contract with Simon & Shuster. There are many outlier stories such as this. So why isn’t there a Sundance-like vetting process for Indie-books? In my curiosity, I went to the world’s source of all knowledge: Google. Sure enough, this June, author Amy Edelman is launching a site called Indie Reader, geared at vetting independent books. Will it become the Sundance of literature? Only time will tell. If not Indie Reader, someone will certainly step in to fill this void. Like Indie film producers, Indie authors are here to stay. Whoever finds the fastest and surefooted way to discover the overlooked bestseller or literary gem will serve an important role in the evolution of literature.
Below is a full list of Entrepreneurial Reluctances/e-Publishing lessons from my Top 10s blog post.
1. The Catalyst(s)
2. Good $ vs. Bad $
3. Risk Reduction
4. The Network Effect
5. Been There, Done That: The Serial Entrepreneur
6. The New New Thing
7. Emergence & Maslow
8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)
9. A Clean Cap Table
10. Perseverance or Blinders
1. False Deadlines
2. Readers & Editrs
3. Genre Opportunities
4. Target Marketing
6. Creating you Literary Brand
7. The Indie-zation of Literature
8. The Network Effect
9. Amazon Ranking
10. The Book Tour