Friday, September 16, 2011

Dead Man Walking

I'm trying to figure out all of the anger and animosity that seems to occur when I talk about ebooks, or the end of bookstores or paper book events or publishers, or self-publishing. I even hear this anger when my name is mentioned.

Yes, apparently the mere uttering of my name incenses some people.

I shake my head at this behavior. For years, I've told people the sky is falling. Because, indeed, the sky is falling. Some listened. Some ignored. Some got angry. Some denied. Some blamed me for it.

I was discussing this with my friend, Henry Perez (author of Killing Red, a #1 Kindle Bestseller, and Floaters, which I co-wrote) and he said something that was so spot-on, so perfect, that I've got to repeat it.

"It's like you're telling children that Santa Claus has cancer."

What a terrific analogy.

People have a lot of affection and good feelings tied in with the publishing world and all it entails. They like paper books, and bookstores, and events. Authors once struggled mightily to land an agent and a Big 6 book deal. There are dreams at stake here. Dreams, and fond memories, and hope.

And I'm shouting to the world that it is all going to end soon.

While anger may be a natural emotion when someone tells you something you love is going away, it certainly isn't a productive one. A much better way to approach the issue is with reason.

To wit: I like Santa Claus, because he brings me toys. If he dies, he won't bring me toys anymore. Perhaps I need to figure out how to get toys without Santa, since he won't be around for long.

That's been my message from the get go. Times are changing. Change with them.

Some have taken this message to mean I'm elated Santa is dying. I have no feelings for Santa one way or the other. I am elated that I figured out how to get toys without Santa. But that doesn't mean I'll be dancing on Santa's grave (even though he did give me coal a few times.) Nor do I have a vested interest in Santa dying. Right now, Santa is still alive, and I'm co-existing with him perfectly fine.

But I am right that Santa is dying. And I am right to say we need to figure out how to live without him.

The business is changing. Lamenting it, getting upset, blaming the messenger (me), or otherwise doing anything other than learing how to thrive is a big waste of energy.

I find it interesting that the changes in this industry seem to mirror DABDA, the stages of death.

Depending on who you are, you might be:

Denying there is a problem.

Angry at the unfairness of it all.

Bargaining for a bit more time.

Depressed it will all soon end.

Accepted it and moved on.

These stages seem to apply more to those who have either been involved in the publishing industry, or have been trying for a while to break into the publishing industry. Some newbies who self-pub skip straight to acceptance, because they have no other base of experience.

But I've encountered a lot of folks mired in the various stages. Writers who are depressed they can't get deals anymore. The Big 6 acting silly--their agency model was nothing more than a bargaining attempt. Agents denying there is a problem at all.

And a lot of anger.

Newsflash: it ain't my fault Santa is dying. I'm just trying to show there is life after Santa.

You can deny it. Be angry about it. Bargain with it. Get depressed about it.

I, and all of my blog posts, will still be here to learn from when you accept it.