(To read Part Two, click here.)
The first person to speak to me post-conference was an intense, tiny woman who fired off a number of equally intense questions, “How does that work for you? Do you put your ebook on your site? People come and download it? How do you collect payment? How do you price your product? How do you get people to know about your book? And—”
I interrupted, reaching out my hand, “Hello. And you are…?”
She shook my hand briskly and told me she was an MEP, for the Greens, and her a rapid-fire name got shot out there too but I did not catch it (I rarely catch names in the best of times).
Since she wasn’t screaming nasty words at me I began explaining about that little known phenomenon called the Kindle .
And Amazon. Combined, an author needed no one or nothing else to publishing an ebook.
While hardly into the first steps of explaing these amazing Kindle-Amazon concepts, an older MEP guy with dyed yellow hair and a wobbly under-chin spoke from my left side. “But it is only famous writers who have success on the internet!”
I turned my attention to this, how can I put this gently, this rude creep, and began, equally gently, supplying some information he obviously had not encountered. “No, there are plenty of examples of unknowns attracting a large audience over time, such as….” But I could not get any further so click here for what he wasn’t interested in hearing.
Feeling his inner Alpha MEP, he raised his voice over mine and continued proclaiming his truth over my facts. It was fairly clear he hadn’t come for a conversation, let alone gathering information, but to hear himself say things he knew and not take on any information that might mean rethinking his thoughts. Quickly enough, he turned his face to that of the Green Party lady MEP, making his point to her, and she began nodding, and that circle slammed shut. I turned to the three other people had come up on my right. I smiled. Friend, or foe?
“I liked what you said.”
They were a literary agent, a trainee, and an assistant to another MEP from the Netherlands. Something refreshing happened. We exchanged ideas. One of them said, “They know nothing here.”
My attitude to most institutions is fraught with distrust, based on a lifetime of experience and observations. I had found that, after attaining a certain size over a period of time, an institutions primary activity was simply to conserve their existence after they ceased to be relevant. Sure, they had power but little influence on the street. For digital publishing, which was basically an online world with energetic communities, you needed to log on and stay logged on and dig around and dig in. The opposite of hanging with colleagues and lunching with lobbyists.
And the conference didn’t even touch on Social Media which powers all this vibrant online publishing.
We spoke of copyright, one of the subjects needing addressing in these circumstances, because what now is the meaning and purpose of copyright online? Right now anyone can upload their ebook to Kindle for free, and without an ISBN number that tracks and controls publications, or any copyright claim posted in the book. Online it’s all about good Metadata. Plus a title and your author’s name and a rather good book. Writers don’t need protection, they need distribution. And that’s where Social Media steps back in…. There’s circles within circles here, and hardly any of them are closed.
And, it seemed, perhaps, my dance card to these institutes and their conferences isn’t utterly blackened. The assistant to the Dutch MEP told me they were organizing another conference on the digital world at the end of this year, and would I be interested in speaking at it?
I said, “May I say what I want?”
Then to be continued, sort of.
Before ending this Three Part Monster, here’s some For Further Reading bits.
The author Barry Eisler refused 500,000 dollars from a mainstream publisher and has gone ebook and Amazon instead.
Readers and writers said No to offline Power and Kindle and Nook readers staged an online ebook pricing protest with angry one-star reviews of Michael Connelly.
Something on VAT & and UK which the Big Guy was so adamant about.
And even Forbes weighs in on Publishing without publishers digitally
Last cliché: He who dares wins. And what I heard at this European Parliament conference on digital publishing was the exact opposite of daring.
Now, completed, worn-out from gabbing, I return happily to the stories I make up.
TO READ PART ONE, CLICK HERE.
Tags: Amazon, Author-Publisher, Barry Eisler, digital publishing, ebook, ebook pricing protest, European Parliament, indie digital publishing, ISBN, Kindle, lobbying at the EU, MEPs, Metadata, Michael Connelly, Publishing without publishers digitally, social media