Writing as Adria Townsend and J. S. Laurenz

Monday, March 14, 2011

Deputized by Kindle

In preparation for my radio appearance today (Tuesday at 12:30 ) on NHPR’s Word of Mouth show, I talked with Professor Robert Thompson at Syracuse University.  He is the go-to guy for all things popular culture and he said this: “I am ashamed at the way universities have become deputies to the promotional departments of organizations like Facebook and Twitter.”  He does not exclude his own Syracuse U from this. 

I, too, have volunteered to wear the badge especially for Kindle, but also for Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  There is nothing I won’t do for them.  Publicity, advertising, customer outreach and end-user training.  I shoot down misconceptions left and right:  You don’t have to be online the whole time you read an e-book, you can download free software from Amazon to read ebooks on computers, iPhones, etc.  If I had a dime for every time I mentioned Kindle…  Actually the potential is there to earn money by adding advertisements to my blog.  Don’t worry, I’m not going there.  But the big question is:  where is publishing going? 

Are traditional publishers (tradpubs) on their last legs?  I’ve been talking to publishing insiders and the tradpubs may be down, like so many industries today, but they are certainly not out.  They stand to gain by shoring up their considerable bulk with a bionic leg in the ebook market.  I worked for Holtzbrinck Publishing for a few years just after they acquired St. Martin’s Press.  Tradpubs aren’t just companies.  They are holding companies.  There’s money behind them.  Maybe not as much in front of them in their future, but they are still giants.  They have strength.  They’re also not as light on their feet as an indie author. 

I enjoy this challenge of going up against the big guys, and to do that I’ve aligned myself with the big guns like Amazon and FaceBook.  But I don’t enjoy seeing the older giants stumble as they make the sometimes drastic cuts necessary to stay nimble enough to compete in the electronic age.  Some writers who get rejected think publishers and—in particular—editors are the enemy.  They’re not.  98% of the folks I worked with were extremely professional, friendly and (especially editors) overworked.  And they have families to support. 

But change is the only constant.  In economic turmoil there is plenty of misfortune, I know that firsthand.  But there are also opportunities, and I plan to try my hand at them.  Back in 1976, due to a mix of corruption and consolidation, the trucking company my father worked for in New York City went under taking his hopes of a pension with it.  We went west to Pennsylvania where he spent the next 25 years working as a dishwasher in a resort.  In his new “career,” he saw not a dead-end job, but an opportunity.  Not for economic gain, but for good.  He became a one-man food pantry, distributing quality resort leftovers to our rural neighborhood.  He saw value where others saw waste.  As an indie author, I am not about to waste an opportunity.  Thanks, Dad, for the business model!   
Here’s a link to The King of Crumbs, a piece I recorded about my Dad for public radio: http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/11570/20080613/commentary-the-king-of-crumbs    

Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club author) once told me my Dad’s story reminded him of his Aunt, a waitress in a seafood restaurant, who also used to bring home leftovers.  I’ll tell you next time what he found on a plate she served him…

Also, next up on the cowgrrl blog:  How the West was Undone.  Indie authors are calling for a revolution in publishing.  Are we headed for democracy or anarchy?  And hear why the traditional publishing model is so much more like socialism than I ever realized. 

Here's the link for today's radio interview: 

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