Well, I sit on most sides of the literary table - I am an author, a publisher, an editor, an online journalist, a writers' community leader and increasingly an author incubator as authors willingly move on from our small publishing company to bigger and better things.
Small? Yes, as author Andy Rausch recently described us, we are 'tiny', but we will publish our 100th book this month (after 18 months of operation) and we do publish books regardless of commercial opportunity. Whether our books will sell one copy or a million is irrelevant to the commissioning process, but we would like a few million-sellers in our portfolio, please, while our minds linger elsewhere than on the balance sheet. The highest sales we have generated so far for one book is 140,000 for Joanne Ellis' 'Spoilt', with three more in the 70,000+ category.
I mostly find writing books both delightful and easy. Some of my books have virtually written themselves - and they have still received 5-star reviews. Sadly, the publishing side has taken over, so although I have three books planned, they are not likely to be written any time soon.
As a lifelong marketeer and business strategist, however, I find the current state of the book market fascinating. How better or worse can you get - what Schumpeter calls 'creative destruction'? The centuries-old paper technology is fast on its way out, bookshops are disappearing, major publishers have even more major problems retaining their glass towers and meeting the 99c Kindle price point at the same time, Amazon are currently dominant - but in a life-and-death struggle with Apple, Sony, Samsung, Google and various others over who will own that e-tablet in your hand - the barrier to entry for new authors to publish and promote their books is nil so that almost as many people are writing books as reading them, the technology and structure of books is set to revolutionise over the next 5 years, and a bunch more stuff.
So why would one ever become a publisher at this dread hour?
Two reasons: because I am a writer, and love other writers and all their works; and because a dread hour is also a golden opportunity like no other.
I won't go on about all the wonderful writers I know, but what I have learnt in recent years, and especially as an editor, is that indie-published books are generally much more exciting than major-published ones. There is something about the defensive-editing of the major publishing houses that sucks all the raw passion and the joy out of a book, leaving it beautifully shiny and flawless for sure, but tasteless and listless - like a butterhead lettuce (you know, the floppy papery ones, appropriately enough).
And the opportunity is that we can have fun doing what we love most, living and promoting stories, and probably, one way or another, earn enough money thereby to feed ourselves at least once a week. Who could want for more ('want' in both senses, I reckon)?
And, if we are going to get commercial, a book is an asset forever - not just for the first weekend, as Hollywood and the major publishing houses view it. Many of our books sell a handful of copies for months and then, suddenly, bam, they are off. One sold about three copies in 6 months, then 11,000 the next day.
How I laughed! (So thanks to Danny Birch for that moment of pure joy).