(Or, hey, maybe e-media IS that bad…)
So, when we last left our intrepid heroes, brand new USB ports were being installed directly into our foreheads.
Now that we’re equipped with the latest technology and a new love for electronic media, we’re all going to rush right off and self-publish our books, so we can get a crappy deal with a publisher that writes in an indefinite e-media clause into the contract, so our novels can be implanted forever on Google Books and Kindle without so much as a cent ever crossing our paths…
Wait. No, we’re not.
Electronic media may not be the homicidal serial killer of print media like people say, but it is kind of a creepy stalker. It has its hazards.
One of which is, of course, self-publishing. Now, I’m not going to totally malign self-publishing, because I do have a bit of an anarchist streak, and I really like the idea of thumbing our noses at The Man and hacking our own way through the jungle of success with a cheap and accessible machete. Lots of people have circumvented the often prejudiced and short-sighted major publishers by self-publishing, and gained the respect they deserved.
And, many people have gained the non-respect they deserve. Before leaping into the pit of Self-Publishing Doom, it’s good to have a reasonable idea of exactly what kind of respect you’ve got coming to you.
But that’s not the only pitfall. Things like dubious copyright enforcement, interminable agency clauses, Google just up and deciding it was going to scan a bunch of library books and dump them on the internet, copyright e-protection scams, and predatory e-publishing houses are all pokey spiky bits at the bottom of the pit that could very well skewer us.
Just as Napster and other file-sharing programs brought down the music industry by ensuring that its artists could no longer get paid for their work—wait, no it didn’t—so is the electronic publishing industry ending the world as we know it. E-Media may not destroy our ability to write and get published, but it sure is going to change how we get paid.
The best thing we can do while the New World Order of Publishing figures out how to deal with the complications that surround electronic media is arm ourselves. Do our research. Clarify our contracts. Check for traps. Always check for traps.
All in all, we must tread carefully, and not go leaping into any pits, whether electronic or print, before we’ve thoroughly checked what’s at the bottom. And make sure you’ve got a cleric in your party when your thief fails their disarm traps roll. (For any non-D&D geeks out there, this means you get blown up. Essentially.) A Staff of Literary Resurrection is handy, too, but I hear you can only get one by slaying an Agent.