There Be Titans: Negotiating the eBook Marketplace

While at Origins this year, I was talking to Gregory Wilson (and the issue came up again on a panel or three) about what was going on in the digital book marketplace.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the “Big Six” and iTunes, et cetera.  He said something very, very smart (though I can only paraphrase it now):

When titans fight, small guys have to watch out, because we’ll get crushed.

And “small guys” basically means anyone who doesn’t sit down with the CEOs of those companies for lunch on a regular basis.

Similar case in point:  Apparently Dish Network is having all sorts of contract disputes with people, so a bunch of channels are, at this time, not carried by them until contracts are negotiated.  Two networks are having very different responses (both originally via BoingBoing):

Viacom:  We won’t stream the Daily Show or Colbert on the web until you let us on Dish at our terms.

AMC:  We’ll stream Breaking Bad live so our fans have time to switch providers.

Both moves put pressure on Dish.  (Well, supposedly.)  The attitude of the two couldn’t be more different.  To give a bit more tone to this, let us turn to Ryan Gosling…

 AMC has always supported you, the true fans.We’re okay being in the friendzone, because we care about you.

Viacom:  Nice show.  It’d be a shame if something… happened to it.  Or its friends.

Yeah, one of these strategies is smart and respectful of the people who earn you money, and the other is extortionist at best.  But that’s the network, not the show.  Something tells me the staff of one show are very happy, and the staff of some others are very pissed off. 

Because, as mentioned before, it doesn’t matter how big a fish you are in your pond (how many of you have the writerly equivalent of a single Emmy, let alone a handful of them?), our ponds are nowhere near the size of the ocean that the titans are moving in.

So, much like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, have the option to sell your creative work on your own, directly to your fans. 

Here’s my guide to doing just that.

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