Yesterday my neighbour Buggeroff made an interesting point. (There's a first time for everything.) He was asking how my book project was coming along and I mentioned I was flat chat (he didn't take the hint) preparing my own art for the paperback edition, and formatting for the e-book. Buggeroff said, 'You're a regular one man band.'
I'd been thinking the same thing lately.
In centuries past the one man band was a street performer with a pedal-operated bass drum strapped to his back, a multi-instrumentalist who slid easily from cymbals and banjos to ukeleles, while a monkey in a funny hat sat on his shoulder for comic effect.
With the rapid advance of digital technology over the past few years, giving us print-on-demand books and multiple e-book formats and e-readers, a new kind of solo operator has emerged. The one man publishing band has become a reality.
The OMPB can write/self-edit/self-publish/blog/guest blog/podcast/beat their won drum/go virtual touring/make "live' in-store appearances (no monkeys required)/sell movie rights/sell all kinds of rights/everything, in fact, except the vocals (and some will even do that - karaoke has a lot to answer for.)
In the early '70's, there was a sudden wave of what the media labeled "singer/songwriters." Guys like Cat Stevens, Elton John and Billy Joel. It was a new trend for solo performers to compose their own material. And the film community has long had its indie writer/directors - launching their opuses at film festivals, then negotiating deals with distributors and studios.
A similar thing is happening now, literary-wise, with the indie author/publisher. John Lennon sang, 'Power To The People.' He might have had something else in mind, but guess what, power to the people is staking its own little claim in the book world right now.
On 'Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,' Elton sang that he and his co-writer Bernie Taupin had come "from the end of the world to your town." That is exactly what the internet has enabled authors - and not just authors - to do.
It's all very entrepreneurial. We tend to think of entrepreneurs as multi-millionaire heads of far-reaching enterprises. But entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.
Authors who create an original work, prepare a finished manuscript and set about selling it to an agent or publisher, or self-publish direct to the public, are entrepreneurs. Just not very big ones.
Your market might be a niche one. Or you might be aiming at a broader readership. Doesn't matter. Richard Branson might not have anything to worry about, but you're an entrepreneur with a capital "E".
Self publishing has always had its own stigma, fast fading now, but I've often wondered why, given that creative industry entrepreneurs aren't new. They've always been out there.
Walt Disney never worked for a boss. From an early age he devised his own animated shorts, headed up his own team, sold rights, handled distribution and promotion, and ultimately built his own distribution firm, Buena Vista. He formed his own studio, made the first ever full-length animated cartoon film, built his own theme park (the first one of its kind) and produced and hosted his own weekly TV series to tie together all his other endeavours. Whew!
If he'd been put off by the stigma of producing his own work, there never would have been a Disneyland or a Disney empire or the legions of others who imitated his works.
Mark Twain wrote, printed and published his own books and had a team of salesmen selling his titles door-to-door. (I'm thinking he really would've appreciated the internet.)
Author/publishers like J A Konrath, James Swain, Scott Westerfeld and a host of others are out there doing it for themselves and they're not even sisters.
Bestselling writers like David Morrell and F Paul Wilson are publishing some of their backlist titles as e-books, as well as some new material.
Indie author/publishers like thriller writers Mary MacDonald, Sean Patrick Reardon and many, many more are launching their own ebook titles and marketing them on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Smashwords and other online retailers.
I'd say the OMPB's are here to stay.
I'll be entering the fray shortly with my suspense novel, 'The Delta Chain,' (warning:shameless plug) a mystery about drowning victims whose identities cannot be traced. More about that another time.
The era of the one man publishing band is just, it seems, getting started. Like many others, I'm curious to see where this authorpreneurial wave of change is going to take us next...