Friday, November 4, 2011

The Collapsing Publishing Model


Writer/cartoonist Brady Russell strongly urged me last year and this to start producing ebooks. The final motivator for me was the realization of where publishing is headed. The Borders store closings; new inexpensive ereaders; new ebook stars like Amanda Hocking and John Locke: the trend is unmistakeable.

One thing I learned, and learned well, during my life in Detroit is that change is constant. When I sought to hang on to the past—melancholy bartender in a Detroit riverfront dive full of nostalgia for Detroit's golden era—I was told by a business-type customer, "Change. Change! Change or die."

Change is nature's only constant.

In 2000 I reinvented myself as King Wenclas, crazy radical literary promoter. I formed the Underground Literary Alliance and shook up the clubby halls of literature. We were the most exciting writers group on the planet.

I've learned through the course of my life to adapt, on a moment's notice. Physically and mentally I live out of a duffle bag.


The inescapable fact is that the $25.99 Harbach/Franzen novel, lit's standard, is an economic and artistic dinosaur. Unexciting; lethargically paced; solipsistically self-focused to the max same-old same-old. Overpriced and supported by a top-heavy structure of writing programs, agents, editors, chain stores, and high-lease Manhattan skyscrapers.

What's my infrastructure? An el cheapo netbook and a two-dollar coffeeshop purchase.

I don't need a bureaucracy. I can outwrite, outedit, and maybe outmarket the publishing dinosaurs. The pop prose in my newest ebook Crime City USA is sleek and explosive. Tighter than any MFA editor, or phlegmatic Harvard-educated intellectual, could make it. Against the industry's slow-moving 4,000 pound Buicks I offer fast and fun race cars at 1/25 the price.

Stop by the King Wenclas showrooms at Kindle or Nook and pick one up.

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