Tuesday, July 31, 2012

These Are the Best of Times, R.S. Gompertz


 
Author, No Roads Lead to Rome and The Expat’s Pajamas: Barcelona
 
Instructor: Every Trick in the Book to Optimize your Presence on Amazon
 
 
This is the greatest time ever to be an author.
 
I played guitar in garage bands back when I was an awkward teen hiding under a mountain of hair and amplifiers. In those post-Motown, pre-Madonna dark ages, the notion of recording a demo tape or cutting an album was the smoky stuff of fantasy. Even if you were able produce a demo, you had to be of royal birth to get it listened to by anyone of influence.
 
Now, of course, any talented kid with a smart phone can record a tune. A singer/songwriter with 1000 fans can make a living. More “next big things” come from YouTube than from the traditional talent factories.
 
The artists have taken over the asylum.
 
Writing and publishing have followed a similar path. Writers, like indie rock bands, have access to sophisticated publishing, printing, distribution, and marketing channels. We can print, tweet, blog, Kindle, Nook, and Facebook.  The tools at our disposal are truly groundbreaking.
 
The potential to be heard and read is greater than ever. A productive writer with 10,000 readers and an expanding back catalogue can bang out a modest living.
 
As a kid, I woke each morning to the staccato rant of my father’s Royal typewriter as he banged out novels and tore through sheets of eraser-worn onion skin paper. Long before word processors, my father struggled like Sisyphus to push his paragraphs up Rewrite Mountain and send his queries into the void. Then he waited months for rejection letters from agents, magazines, and book publishers. Hope, faith, and the occasional nibble kept him typing.
 
Writers now have more pathways to reach people and earn money than ever before. In writing as in music the industry has turned upside down. The tools have become cheap and the means of distribution democratized.
 
What hasn’t changed is the need for talent and good marketing. But the balance has tipped in our favor and that’s a nice place to be.