Internet Authors arent losers

By: Mike Scantlebury

Ask the majority of so-called 'gurus' to talk about business or self-improvement, and here's a funny thing. They start talking about sport. That's odd. Sport isn't the same as life. It's completely different. As Brian Tracey says, in sport you get three chances to hit the baseball and then you're out, but in life you can go up to the mound as many times as you've got the energy and the inclination, try hitting the ball, miss and still keep coming back for more. Or, to be precise, keep on swinging until you hit the home run. That's not allowed in the actual sport. They're very strict. Three strikes and you're out.

Yes, if sport is definite about one thing, it's this. It has rules. It says that you have to pick up the bat and try to hit the ball. It defines how many people can play at one time, where they stand and what they have to aim to do. That's not like life. In life you can choose anything as an aim, you don't have to aim for 'the goal' that everyone else is looking for. After all, don't forget, the only reason we have a new game called Rugby in England is that a young schoolboy picked up the ball in the game of soccer and started running with it. Wow, he invented a new game. They came up with some rules to allow for handling, and now England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and France battle it out every year for a metal cup (plus fame and honour). That's fine, but guess what would happen if someone decided they didn't like running in the same direction as their team mates now? No, they wouldn't have invented a new game. They'd be ruled out and sent to sit on the bench. Those are the rules.

Having one agreed goal gives the game a major advantage. You can tell who's doing well and who's doing badly. You can measure success. You can tell who's won. That's not like life. The glossy magazines are full of stories of rich and famous people who are having miserable lives, divorces and diets. Have they 'won'? Your neighbourhood is full of people, some of them in big houses and some in small. Who's winning? The only way you could tell is if you made it into a game, with the rule that the person in the biggest house is the winner. Of what? Well, the 'biggest house' game, of course. Okay, that's true. But it makes no sense. Would that 'league table' tell you if they were happy? Or if their kids were doing well and going to college? Or if they weren't ill?

In the world of publishing they've invented a game too. The rules are that authors have to send their manuscripts to posh people in smart offices in the middle of big cities, and these business people then decide which offerings get printed and put into bookshops and which don't. Any writer who gets taken on by a publisher is 'a winner', which means that every author without a publishing deal must be – by the rules of the game – a loser. But what if that writer puts their book up on the internet and signs up with a print-on-demand publisher? That's not in the rules! But they've got their book printed, and, if they pay extra, they can have an ISBN issued, which means it gets listed in catalogues. As far as readers are concerned, there's no difference. These shoppers go into a bookshop and ask for a particular author. If that person is an Internet Author, the bookshop is unlikely to have the book on its shelves, but they can order it from the publisher, (someone like Lulu.com). Even stranger, if a reader goes to an on-line bookstore like Amazon, they can flip through the novels on offer – and not be able to tell which ones come from Traditional Publishers and which don't! If they order a book that's listed, they'll pay for it and have it delivered to their door whether it's 'won' the race to get to an old-style publisher or whether it hasn't.

Let's sum up. Authors who have their work published on the internet and their books available on the web – only – are considered to be 'losers' by Traditional Publishers and their cronies, traditional critics and journalists. These writers are people who have failed in the race to land a publishing contract. The fruits of that contract – printed work, advertised books, sales – are the same on the web, of course, and some 'successful' authors find this out too, when their books first go into bookshops and then end up on the publisher's own website as well! Internet Authors don't get the 'benefits' flowing from Traditional Publishers, but they do get published. They've scored a goal, they've won a point, it's just that they weren't playing the same game. By the same rules.

Which means they haven't 'lost'. The only way you could possibly think that is if you truly believe that you are playing the only game in town. No, Traditional Publishers are having to wake up to the fact that now there other people in the arena too. Trouble is, they aren't playing by the same rules.

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