In MultiTouch Fiction There’s No Such Thing As a Publisher
by Stephan J Harper
Read that sentence again. Memorize it. It’s a MultiTouch Fiction writer’s mantra with major implications that go far beyond the individual artist.
Creating a novel-length MultiTouch Fiction title will require the author to collaborate with various artists and multimedia-content creatives over one or two years or more. Can you imagine the book pitch you send to New York, to the risk-averse Big Publisher already loath to give a fiction writer any advance? Now the acquiring editor must consider a production budget? After a good chuckle, she suddenly remembers something. Now she’s annoyed. She looks at her watch, grabs her purse and tosses your proposal in the trash bin. Your futile exercise has made her late for lunch at Le Bernardin.
Which leads us to a few short, but necessary, sidebars about the current state of the publishing industry.
- Big Publishing has gone through a wave of industry consolidation over the past three decades. The new Corporate Masters scoffed at any tradition that didn’t maximize return-on-investment as bad management. They were in charge now and required Big Publishing to maintain 20% net margins vs the “Gentleman’s 6” of the previous hundred and fifty years. A risk-averse business model was adopted and the result was a publishing industry focused on non-fiction ‘Health, Wealth and Wisdom’ titles by leading authorities; celebrity ‘authors’ of tell-alls and cookbooks; and brand-name authors for fiction. In this environment, there was no place for new writers without track-records or brand recognition. The few who did get past the ‘gatekeepers’ were industry insiders with the right connections from the right MFA program taught by the former editor who knew the names of the right people’s children.
- Big Publishing today is a wasteland filled with marketeers and sycophants who indulge their brand-name and celebrity clients, neither countenancing nor concerning themselves with new voices and new ideas. Their inside culture has distorted a once-vibrant publishing industry that took pride in introducing and championing writers, the great names who influenced generations and won Nobel Prizes and are taught at all levels in academia.
- Big Publishing also has a Big Problem: an unsustainable business model based on inflated product-pricing incompatible with a cloud-based digital economy. When the dust finally settles, they will be left with the cash flow to hold out for about six minutes before their Corporate Masters have them thrown in the street and convert their office space into Big Data warehouses for Hedge Funds in Connecticut who want their fiber-optic lines ten-millionths of a second closer to the New York Stock Exchange. The Corporate Masters aren’t interested in books; only profit.
Now, consider: any author or team self-funding a MultiTouch Fiction project to completion has no need for outside help from either Big Publishing or the Self-Publishing “experts” with their thinly-disguised sales pitches to sell you the important advice only they can give so you can be successful. They don’t know anything about the new genre of MultiTouch Fiction; if they did, they would be telling you all about it. They aren’t. They are literally old-school and dried-up as old textbooks that never get updated. In the lingo of the day they just don’t get it. And if you are reading these words, you already know more than they do. They are the past; you are the future.
Remember, the title of this post is your new mantra. You don’t “publish” a MultiTouch Fiction title: you digitally upload the iBooks Author files using iTunes Producer to package your assets in a ‘runtime-wrapper’ and then post your MultiTouch Fiction ‘book-app’ directly to the iBooks Store. That’s it.
It gets even simpler. Your MultiTouch Fiction title has only one market: the two hundred million plus iPad Users around the world. In six months, figure over two hundred and fifty million iPad Users. Is that market big enough for you? Put another way: MultiTouch Fiction titles created with iBooks Author are essentially iOS-ported ‘book apps’ that no other tablet on the market supports. But Apple defined the Tablet product category; built, then sold hundreds of millions of units all over the world; and is heavily promoting iBooks Author to ensure a continual stream of new titles for one of their flagship products. No one expects Apple to give up this advantage. The ‘haters and complainers’ need to give it a rest already and accept that Apple will dominate the Tablet market for as long as they wish. And this is a good thing! Apple’s dominant position in the Tablet space is no different from Microsoft’s dominant position in the desktop space. Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop helped Business standardize around a common platform across the Enterprise, creating the most efficient workplace in history. This standardization was a more important factor than performance specs alone. It happened for Google in Search and Adobe in Image Editing as well; google and photoshop are now verbs in the Oxford English Dictionary. Standards are set all the time and are vital to the growth of any industry and market. The iPad is the defacto ‘gold standard’ in the Tablet space and iBooks Author is the revolutionary multimedia-authoring platform that will forever change the publishing industry. We’re not just out for a Sunday drive here; these products are transforming our world.
Believe it or not, it gets even simpler still. After your MultiTouch Fiction title is secured in the cloud, all your future efforts are focused on a single marketing objective: persuading iPad Users to download the free Preview/Sample of your product. This is the model responsible for the phenomenal success of the Mobile App Market: the consumer is given a free Demo version of the app because only the app itself can persuade the consumer to buy the full version. This is the fundamental difference between traditional publishing and the brave new world of digital content delivery. Today’s digital consumer will typically purchase multiple apps in a year because the majority of these new digital products are offered at ‘impulse-buy’ price points where ‘buyer’s remorse’ is literally nonexistent: your Preview/Sample has already persuaded them to buy your product. It is organic marketing at its finest. It was the App Market that not only validated the concept of micro-payments but facilitated an entirely new way to let consumers persuade themselves to part with their money. Today, mobile computing devices are the primary means of delivering information and entertainment to the consumer; and consumers are participating in the digital economy in ways that have surpassed the most optimistic predictions. This pace will only accelerate.
MultiTouch Fiction is dream category. New technologies are providing authors the tools to create the richest and largest literary market in history. Authors, artists and multimedia creatives have an unparalleled opportunity before them to enter a multi-billion dollar mobile market primed for explosive growth. In a world where the mobile platform is pervasive, there is every reason to expect that MultiTouch Fiction will actually increase readership across all demographics. We are now witnessing one of those rare opportunities that comes along once or twice in a century where the outmoded gets swept aside to make way for the new and innovative, promising great rewards to the forward-thinkers in a position to take advantage of those opportunities.
Given the very nature of MultiTouch Fiction, it is inevitable that authors, not publishers, will dominate this space. We need only believe in our abilities and our capacity for hard work. No writer would expect it to be otherwise: we already know what hard work goes into creating a fictional world. The real world – that’s a cakewalk!