by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Authors and readers are on opposite banks of a river.
The authors hold their manuscripts and need to get them across the water to the readers.
Until recently the only way for the authors to deliver their manuscript to their readers was by crossing the bridge the Agents/Publishing houses provided.
As trolls did in Fairy Tales, agents and publishers controlled access to the bridge.
In Fairy Tales, travelers had to had the right answer or the right token to be granted permission to cross to the other side.
In the publishing business, queries and connections were the tokens that would grant or deny access to the bridge.
In the old times, the bridge was narrow and trolls denied most travelers the right of way.
Frustrated, many attempted to cross on their own. But the river was wide and deep, and the current swift and most didn’t know how to swim, and drowned.
But then something happened, somebody designed a boat and travelers starting using this new device to get to the other side. And some failed, but others made it and sold their wares successfully to the customers there.
With time boats became more sophisticated and easy to use until finally an engine was added to them creating a motorboat everybody could use. Now more and more travelers, even those who had access to the bridge, avoided it altogether and used a motorboat to get to the farther bank.
And the trolls saw this and realized that, instead of wasting their time questioning all the travelers arriving at the bridge, they could do a better business by helping those that had already proved their worth by crossing the river on their own.
As you have probably realized by now, the boats in the publishing world are the Print on Demand services and the power boat the e-book.
E-books have made it so easy to get your manuscript to readers, publishing houses are no longer necessary.
Or are they?
Following the analogy, the readers’ bank is crowded now.
So the problem for the author is not longer to woe the editor/agent but to woe the reader.
But that is another story.