My last novel with a traditional New York publisher was released in 2018. The world has . . . um . . . changed since then.
One of my good friends in the litNFT space made something like $30,000 USD in under one minute when Book.io launched one of his novels via Cardano less than a year ago. To say my ears perked up when this happened is an understatement. That began my journey into web3, a term I'd previously only seen in tweets that I scrolled right past.
Back when the internet actually first happened, and people like me were getting deluged with these ubiquitous AOL discs in the mail (snail mail, that is), music companies laughed off any idea that their way of life and conducting business was about to change forever.
Then I watched publishers make the same mistake when ebooks hit the market.
While both music companies and publishers are still in business (more or less), it's easy to see where the same old slow-boat mistakes are being made all over again.
My first novel on ADA sold out in less in than 24 hours. There were 700 NFTs made, each with 1:1 covers. I didn't make enough to live on for a year . . . but I still made more than my most recent advance from a traditional publisher.
I've been trying to tell my author friends about this revolution. About readers owning their ebooks for the first time, like they own their old hardcovers. About the idea of earning royalties in perpetuity every time a "used" copy of their ebook sells. About sending fans new chapters or bonus materials automatically, or having more than one cover design that can be collected and kept or re-sold.
I've tried to warn them that their literary agents must be on top of these changes, and to ensure their publishers are handling their rights fairly.
While I know that certain "Big 5" publishers are moving to make partnerships with litNFT companies, the industry as a whole is very slow. Always has been. It's entrenched. And while I do not believe that traditional publishing is in mortal danger, I absolutely believe working writers are if they do not study up on web3 right now.
This has nothing to do with AI writing. This has everything to do with building a brand, or presence, or whatever you wish to call it to reach and keep readers.
Web3 has made the idea of "community" around an author or other creator not only a practicable reality, but a necessity. Authors need to understand this idea and learn how to put it into practice.
Additionally, the less authors understand about this technology, the more likely they are to lose rights and money to publishers who will understand it faster and put that knowledge to their own benefit.
I'm not saying traditional publishers are predatory; they're not.
But they are businesses, and woe to the author who doesn't grasp that concept. Fast. If they thought royalty rights were a little skewed in the good-old-days, see what happens when a Big 5 who understands web3 licenses a novel from an author who doesn't.
Like social media, like very internet itself before that, this can be a golden era for writers and creators like me . . . if we are bold enough to learn about it.