If you could call it a debate.
Information and link to download audio of the debate are here.
Selected summarizing quotes:
“It’s not better, it’s the way it is.” — Scott
“The signal to noise ratio is going to change.” — Howard
Scott’s made his success by podcasting his novels, gaining him exposure and a loyal audience. This translates into book sales. Obviously, then, he’s in favor of releasing content for free.
Howard feels that, while this is all well and good for now, once publishers are no longer trying to stop authors from releasing things for free and, instead, force them to, there will simply be so many choices out there that it will become more and more difficult for authors to speak to a large section of the culture. And the publishers, as the moderator suggested, will expect authors to bring their fanbases with them, instead of using their clout and money to create an audience through publicity and distribution.
Howard may have a point, here, when it comes to the expectations of publishers. But Scott’s quote up above is really the best argument. The industry’s evolving, and Howard mentioned that evolution doesn’t necessarily mean that things will get better, they’ll only get different.
But that’s simply the way it is.
Authors like Scott Sigler and Cory Doctorow are on the leading edge, and they’re the ones that stand to benefit the most from this trend. Eventually, everyone will be doing it, and then no one will stand to benefit.
What will happen then?
Someone else will figure out a new way to make money, and others will follow. What appears to be so difficult for people like Howard Hendrix to understand is that, yes, trends can make some people suffer and some people succeed. But once everyone tries to cash in, it merely changes again.
Creative Commons may not, in fact, be the end-all-be-all, the one final answer to problems of distribution and fortune-making. It might just be a temporary fad with which some people will create large fanbases. But someone else, somewhere, someday, will find another way to create popularity and money.
Maybe some science-fiction author will try to get even closer to the fans than they’re able to with only a blog, and form an entire social network around themselves, or their book. Max Barry created the game NationStates to sell his book Jennifer Government a few years back. Will every author have to invest that kind of time?
Who knows? Maybe they will. And then they’ll all start doing it, it will stop working, and then, surprise surprise: Someone will do something else.
As Ian Clarke once said, loosely quoted, ‘If you’re selling water in the desert and it starts raining, it’s time to change your business model.’