How Long Will It Last

I’VE WRITTEN SOME here and there that people make a serious mistake when they assume that current trends will continue straight-line. This is especially true when you consider that most trends are built from a single data point — or two at best — and a ruler. You don’t know if that one data point is accurate, and with two, you don’t know if either of them is accurate. To build a trend prediction on such thin data is arrant foolishness.

Bob Mayer writes with some countervailing thought to the current optimism that the current trend favoring independent publisher-authors cannot continue straight-line on its apparent path.

He reasons that there is no sense in assuming that the current players in these waters will stand thus amazed by the brilliance of the independent movement and not act to recover their previously (and current) dominant position in the market. Why should they?

Now, individuals and companies may make stupid moves and fall away. The die-off may make the extinction of the dinosaurs look like a mild flu epidemic, but there will be survivors among the current players, and they will more-than-likely dominate the market. They will embrace those parts of the independent movement that make sense to their business models, and they will co-opt those independents who look to be making good money, and the rest will either fall away or adapt.

Makes sense to me. The field will look differently in January, and will look differently in a year, two, and ten. But it’s like a scene. If you write a scene in which your protagonist blows in, has his way with the antagonist, and the antagonist has nothing to say about it, no motivation to resist, no agenda of his own, you are going to tell yourself that’s a stupid way to write a scene. So why would you assume that people would act like that in real life?

It’s beginning to look as though there’s a brief window of opportunity for pure-indie authors, that will last until next summer at the longest. Then the reaction of the New York houses will begin to take hold. I guess you could count that as a prediction, which looks like it might overestimate the intelligence and nimbleness of the traditional publishsing world. It’ll be interesting to look back in June and see how wrong or right I was.

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