Further underlining that the publishing industry is currently in a similar position to that of the music industry a decade ago, this week brings news of the imminent creation of The Alliance of Independent Authors,
the lamest superhero squad of all time a self-explanatory society that aims to give a voice to those writers who bypass traditional publishers in favour of self-releasing their work online.
The Alliance is the brainchild of Orna Ross, herself an author (who published two novels through Penguin before turning to self-publishing) and former literary agent (who ran Font, a Dublin agency-slash-writing school).
The Bookseller quotes Ross as saying: ‘We will be speaking up on behalf of independent authors, and making links with booksellers, wholesalers, agents and legacy publishers, so people have an idea of what our creative needs are. It requires a change of attitude both in writers and in other players. In the past, the author was a resource to be mined, but indie authorship is about meeting the publisher as a partner.’ Ross hopes to launch the Alliance website in a matter of weeks.
When bands figured out how to do this and do it well, record labels began to crumble. They took too long to catch up with the new paradigm. Now the best most bands can hope for is to just about make a living from touring. Very few will make sizeable profits from their recorded output, in large part because of the failure of the music industry to keep up with the free culture of the internet.
Publishers are in a better position right now by comparison, but still need to take pains over the coming weeks, months, years to prove their worth to a generation of new authors who’ll come up believing – and believing is the crucial word here, even if the reality is somewhat different – that they can do everything by themselves.