Monday, October 19, 2009

The Game

Just got back from Bouchercon, and had one of those revelation moments.

When I play, I play to win. That's the point for me. If I lose, I try to learn from it so I can win next time.

Traditional publishing is a game where I'm not allowed to win.

I suppose this is rather obvious. There are too many factors involved--luck being one of the biggies--that are out of my control.

But if I look at my writing career, I've done my best to have as much control as possible. I was the guy who sent out 7000 letters to libraries, who visited over 2000 bookstores, who blog toured over 100 sites in a single month, who gathered 10,000+ names for his newsletter, who talked about social networking before anyone knew what Facebook was.

I think all of this has had a positive effect on my career. I've made some money. I'm still selling books.

But even with my best effort, and with all I've learned, I'm not allowed to win.

Winning involves big print runs and marketing campaigns and distribution. No matter how hard I try, or how well I play the game, those things aren't up to me.

So along comes ebooks.

For the first time, there's a level-playing field. It's no longer about who has 200 copies of their latest hardcover on the Borders New Release table for five weeks at 40% off cover price. It's no longer about huge New York Times ads, or getting a review in People magazine. It's no longer about being available at every Walgreens and CVS.

I have no idea if I'll be able to win the ebook game. There are still a lot of factors involved.

But it's nice to finally feel like I actually have a chance to compete.