A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors

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The publishing world is in mass-flux.

I don’t know where it’ll end up. Nobody does.

But, I do know, as I sit and write this, that the other side of upheaval is opportunity. For both publishers and authors…who get what’s really happening here.

For generations, big publishing houses have played a huge role in:

  • Selecting,
  • Shaping,
  • Packaging,
  • Printing,
  • Distributing and
  • Marketing books.

What they offered, you couldn’t easily get anywhere else.

By controlling each of these processes, they drove the engine that sold a mountain of books and helped build large followings for authors. This was their value proposition in the eyes of aspiring and signed authors. And, it was a model that kept control focused in the hands of publishers.

In part, because authors didn’t want to do all the non-writing work that publishers did, but also because authors didn’t have an easy way to take control of each element of the publishers’ value proposition, especially identifying and reaching directly out to their followings.

There were just too many people and steps between the pocketbook and the pen.

Interestingly enough, the publishers didn’t even have direct access to buyers. Still don’t. There was no list of who bought what, along with contact information. But because of their position at the helm of the brick and mortar bookseller distribution machine, publishers knew where these folks shopped and still sat in the gatekeeper’s position to be able to deliver books into those places.

Enter the digital age. What’s changed?

On the “today’s reality” side, not much…at least for MOST authors. On the possibility side, a lot. And, it’s the possibility side that’s:

  • Freaking out certain publishers,
  • Leaving most authors confused and
  • Making a smallish group of authors dance with glee.

It’s now entirely possible for anyone, with a bit of legwork and a modest budget, to find and pay for top-quality editing, packaging, printing and even many aspects of traditional marketing. And, with social media and blogging, it’s becoming far easier to build direct relationships with and sell direct to your readers.

And, that’s gutted a big chunk of the publishers’ value proposition.

What’s left is their:

  • Position as gatekeepers to brick and mortar distribution
  • Better access to and validation for mainstream media
  • Willingness to do at least some of the work most authors hate doing, and
  • Stamp of approval that still matters in certain other revenue paths, like conference speaking.

So, why did I say this hasn’t changed much for most authors today?

For the handful of authors who foresaw the potential of digital tribe-building tools to create a direct connection with their readers years ago, the world has become a publishing playground.

And, for those with mammoth offline followings yearning for a way to connect with their favorite author, it doesn’t take much to convert offline fans to digital devotees. Just open the door, give them a place to show up and demonstrate that you’re listening, you care and you’ll share.

So, for people like Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Paulo Coehlo, the opportunities to walk away from traditional publishing are truly myriad. Because they’ve embraced the technology, engaged their audience in the digital ether and built massive, direct-access followings online.

When Paulo Coehlo shares a single update on his Facebook page, more than 2.5 million fans see it, tens of thousands “like” and “share” it and thousands often reply.

Authors with the ability to digitally engage massive nodes of raving fans get to live the tribal author dream today.

They get to choose whether to stay within the traditional publishing system and command tremendous advances and control over the publishing process, because of the power they wield, or walk away, do it on their own and likely earn just as much, if not substantially more in less time.

But, herein lies the rub.

While the dawn of a new era for tribe-building, digitally-savvy, engagement-loving, marketing-oriented authors is truly here, truth is…

Most authors haven’t done and don’t want to do what’s necessary to leverage this new dawn.

They don’t want to hire an editor, a designer, a packager and publicist. They don’t want to have to figure out how to prepare, submit and sell their own books online. And, they don’t want to invest the massive amount of time needed to build their own tribes.

One of the happiest days in the life of your average aspiring author, and that includes many bloggers and social media wonks, even ones with substantial followings, is the day they sign a book deal with a traditional publisher (fair disclosure, I recently sold my next book to a traditional publisher).

How can this be?

Because, what Seth, Tim, Paulo and a fractional share of digitally-prescient authors are experiencing right now is still years off, hundreds of thousands of digital fans away and a ton of work for your average author, aspiring author or even social media content creator.

That’s not to say it’s not worth the effort. It most certainly is for those who are energized by the process and the prospect of harvesting their own power as authors. Hell, if that’s you, tribe-building, book marketing resources abound.

There are endless ways to fan the tribe-building flames and accelerate the process.

But, for your average author who’s not yet entered the realm of the digerati, many aspects of traditional publishing not only still matter, but are preferable.

Because, without direct digital access to large numbers of readers, brick and mortar distribution is still important in your quest to reach the greatest number of people and sell a lot of books. Sure, every year, more and more sales are happening online, but paper books and local stores still respresent a huge chunk of the potential market. Ten years from now, all bets are off, but we’re selling books now, not then.

Because, at least for now, traditional media still matters in your quest to take a book from selling well to selling truckloads. And, as one top book publicist recently confided:

“To top it all off, independent publishing – self publishing, rather than small houses – doesn’t get the street cred that indy music or film gets. Try booking a self-published author with traditional media outlets. Ain’t happening – unless he/she is a known name, or the booking is in a “local” local market. The traditional press wants a traditional publisher’s approval. Since they never read the books, they need someone to tell them it’s ok.”

Because getting paid upfront for a book still has appeal to what is often a non-venture-minded, largely risk-averse community.

And, because, at least for now, if you want to sell a boatload of books or build a paid speaking/keynoting career, hitting the big print lists (NYT, WSJ, USA Today) still matters. And, it’s nearly impossible to do that through self-publishing or digital-only sales.

That’s the way it is now.

So, why are many traditional publishers so freaked out and digital marketing savvy writers salivating?

Not because of where the industry is now…but where it’s headed.

For publishers…

There is a growing awareness that the authors they’ve helped build into giant-sellers now have the ability to reach past them and connect with audiences directly. Many still don’t, because of the time and effort needed. Most just want to write great books.

But the very idea that they can is terrifying to an industry who’s flagship value-proposition is gatekeeper to buyers, via the vehicle of distribution.

As more and more book purchases move online, the value of brick and mortar distribution will get smaller and smaller. And, as high-quality authors opt into self and indy-publishing, the other pieces of the value proposition will likely fall away as well.

Again, we’re not there yet, at least not for the huddled authorial masses. It may take years or even decades. But that’s where this is all going.

So, traditional publishing is left with a giant question, how do we keep ourselves relevant when our core selling-point for authors, the one thing they still can’t buy themselves, has been access to readers?

Put another way…how do we stay in the middle, when authors have the tools to go direct?

So, here’s a modest proposal for traditional publishers…

First, realize, even though savvy authors now have the tools to build their own tribes and go direct, most want nothing to do with that process. In fact, they straight up dread the prospect.

So, if you can grant access to a giant tribe of permission-gathered, appetite-whetted potential book buyers with a stated interest in an author’s niche, that still has tremendous value. Even in the digital age (more on exactly how to do that in a minute). There’s a sea of difference between what the vast majority of authors “can” and “will” do in the name of selling books.

Opportunity does not a marketer make, action does.

And, most authors, yes even well-known, established ones, would rather pour their energy onto the written page than the marketing stage.

Even if every author decided to go direct online, the very same technology that makes this possible has also made self-publishing so easy that the volume of noise out there has risen to astonishing levels (more than 1 million books were published in 2009, about 275,000 of which were done traditionally), making the need for trusted curators, filters and gatekeepers WHO ADD SUBSTANTIAL VALUE to the process even more important.

And, guess who those curators, filters and gatekeepers can be…if they’re willing to step up and add independent value to the digital book-selection ecosphere?

Yup, the publishers.

But, that’ll mean no longer viewing the ebook format or the digital evolution, itself, as the enemy.

The format is not what’s causing you pain, nor what will cause you pain down the road. It’s what the format and bigger online social revolution is doing to your role as gatekeeper, curator and filter that’s causing the “potential” for pain. Remember…

Most authors still want you in the mix IF you can port direct-access to readers into your digital value proposition.

So, how can publishers reinsert themselves into the divide between authors and readers in the digital realm?

Instead of looking only for authors with substantial digital platforms, look for mindblowing writers and digital-connectors and build your own massive tribes.

Reclaim the power of your own brand.

Hire and dedicate a team to build your own digital tribes around the tightly-niched topic areas in which you publish. Empower them tantalize, give to and engage readers and create high-quality, high-value, provocative text, video and audio content to share.

Yes, just like bloggers and digitally inclined authors are doing now. Offer substantial additional value into the digital realm and slowly and methodically build your own self-improvement tribes, marketing tribes, small business tribes, romance tribes.

Take all the money you’re dropping on ads that barely convert and hire a team of incredible writer, engagers, raconteurs and provocateurs…to work for YOU!

If one author can do this working a few hours a week without spending a dime on advertising or marketing, what do you think you might be able to pull off?

Then, once you’ve built a tightly-niched, engaged digital tribes, turn around and sign authors who can create not only killer content for these tribes, but killer multi-faceted content-driven experiences. Start with books, both digital and paper, then expand the content to create and offer blended mixed-media experiences that tantalize those tribes. The ones you, as a publisher, now have direct access to.

In fact, there’s a little-known publisher who’s done just that and, from the outside looking in, seems to be kicking some serious ass.

SimpleTruths.com creates inspirational slideshow videos, then posts them online and drives traffic to the videos. The videos sit on a private page, which allows them to redirect viewers to an upsell page at the end.

That upsell page asks viewers to do 3 things:

  • Share the video with others, both by email and social media
  • Join their email list, and
  • Buy a book that is an expanded version of that video, essentially as a momento.

The first video they launched was called The Dash and, depending who you ask, it has been viewed between 25 and 50 million times.

More than 75,000 people view a SimpleTruths.com video (each upselling a book) every day.

You think that’s built a MONSTER e-list, a massive digital tribe, and sold a few books?

Now, every time they release a book, it’s preceded by a video that not only continues to build their inspirational direct-access digital tribe, but pre-sell books.

This is just one example of how a publisher can take a page from the blogger/social-media solo artist’s handbook and create engaging content to build their own niche specific, digital tribes, then sign authors they know will create books these tribes will gobble up.

The opportunities here are endless, but publishers need to be ready and willing to accept the challenge of creating direct digital pathways to potential book buyers by adding value to those buyers’ experiential ecosystems.

Of course, this raises the huge question of the rift that arises between traditional booksellers and publishers any time a publisher explores anything smacking of direct-to-consumer.

And, to that I’d answer…both sides need to get a life.

In this new world, preserving an us against them mentality will only lead to one thing…us and them dead.

What got you both here ain’t gonna get you there! There is no preserving the status quo any more. So…

Rather than retrench behind battle lines drawn around a dying paradigm, maybe it’s time to look forward and figure out how to facilitate and leverage the inevitable, rather than rail against the clouds for raining yet again.

Sit down at a table, better yet, take a walk in the woods and figure out how you can collaborate.

And, by collaborate, I don’t mean get the heads of the families together to carve up and horde whatever’s left of the bookselling pie. I mean…wrack your brains to figure out how to work together to add value to the experience of book buyers on multiple levels. Levels you didn’t even know existed until 2008. Harness your collective resources to delight potential buyers in ways that’d be hard to do working alone.

The future lies in evolving the value-proposition. And…

It’s hard to add value on a level that translates to impact when you’re working from a scarcity mentality.

So, what about the authors?

How do you prepare for the next generation?

First, accept one fact – if you just like to write and have no desire to share and be paid for the content you create, that’s fine. That’s amazing. What a gift to have that outlet. But, if you want to get paid to write. And, I’m not talking chump change, but real live-well-in-the-world money, accept that you can no longer be just a writer, you must also be an entrepreneur, a marketer and a tribe-builder.

If you want an enduring career as an author, you must become an enterprise.

Maybe not now if you’ve already got enough of a track record, but things are moving that way incredibly fast. And, I’d much rather stake my livelihood on the existence of deep connections with a sizable, engaged tribe and my ability to consistently serve and delight them.

If you’re an author with a traditional house, rock on. I’m not saying you need to walk away. I certainly haven’t. In fact, I recently sold my next book to one and I’m thrilled about it.

Because traditional publishing still matters to my bigger-picture business model. I’m a author, but that’s not the entirety of the the enterprise I’m building. I’m also an entrepreneur, a speaker, a blogger and a teacher. And, while I’ve grown a wonderful tribe, my bigger picture still works better when I work with a publisher, rather than hire a team and manage the process myself.

What I’m saying is that you need to step up and start to take ownership of your platform, so that down the road, you can be in a position to call the shots, whether that means publishing yourself or being able to command more from those who’d publish you.

With rare exception (and there will be those), unless publishers begin to heed some aspect of the ideas shared above, there is no long-term future for writers without a willingness to build tribes.

And, even if there is…

Tribe-free authors will find themselves stunningly de-leveraged over time.

The risk to publishers in signing a digital-tribe-free author will be too great. Again, maybe not today, maybe not next year, but that’s where it’s going.

The good news is, for those willing to own that knowledge, the opportunity for control has never been greater.

You now have the tools to reach digitally and directly into the hearts, souls and minds of the people you are writing for. You have the chance to connect directly with them, to compel them, to move them not only by the books you write, but by how genuinely you engage and provide value to them over time online.

For those willing to create remarkable content, solutions and experiences AND engage with people consistently over time, the future is mind-blowingly opportune. You now have access to the ultimate consumer of your work and the ability to build relationships with and delight those folks every day. That’s both a responsibility and gift.

You may still choose to stay with traditional publishing houses.

But your leverage will be dramatically magnified.

Meaning, you’ll be in a position to command a lot more money and control.

Does this all mean that someone can’t come out of nowhere and write something so stunning and original that, with no tribe, no relationships and no marketing savvy, the content explodes virally into the public consciousness and sells millions of copies, downloads or whatever format is waxing at the time?

Of course not. It’s possible.

We all work until our fingers bleed to reach for that.

Every bone in my body aspires to it.

But, that’s a hell of a burden to stake a living on as a grown-up.

Especially if you’ve got a family along for the ride.

So, in addition to writing the best stuff I can write, I still spend a serious chunk of time every day building my tribe.

Fact is, on a practical level, even on my best days, I can’t write, really WRITE, for more than 3 to 5 hours without my head exploding. That leaves me a whole lot of time to live, play, take care of other projects, ventures and clients and, yes, build my tribe and grow my author enterprise.

So, what’s the future of publishing?

For both authors and publishers, it’s largely about who controls access to the tribe.

Because, they are no longer anonymous, random purchasers. They have faces, names, desires, interests and the ability to not only read what you create, but help craft, support, interact with and evangelize it…if you:

  • Give to them,
  • Treasure them,
  • Honor them,
  • Respect them,
  • Delight them,
  • Engage them…and
  • Empower them to act and share.

Neither side HAS to build a digital tribe to succeed. And, even if you build one, if you then offer crap into that tribe, you’ll still go down in flames.

But, to those who are willing to put in the time, energy, work and even money, the rewards on both sides of the publishing pond are potentially transformative.

The opportunities immeasurable. But, only for those willing to…

Own the idea that what got us here ain’t gonna get us there.

Then suffer a healthy bit of creative destruction in the name of evolution, survival, then triumph.

So, what do YOU think?

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84 responses

84 responses to “A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors”

  1. […] just posted a 3,000 word essay called A Modest Proposal For Publishers And Authors over on JonathanFields.com. It’s intense and it has my thoughts on where the industry is going and how both publishers […]

  2. Great post Jonathan.

    I have a friend who is an author who has had several books published by a publisher who went belly up several years ago.

    His books were good sellers, and he developed a small army of fans. He’s been battling ever since to find a new publisher for his old and new works.
    I’ll be forwarding this post to him.

    So Douglas – THIS is what I’ve been urging you to do for ages.

    Eric G.

  3. “Put another way…how do we stay in the middle, when authors have the tools to go direct?”

    A big clue for the future is that any business operating with the mindset demonstrated in the part of your post quoted above is going to have a very bumpy road.

    If you have to ask yourself, “How do we stay in the middle,” well that’s not such a smart long term strategy.

    How about, “How do we become so valuable that authors WANT us to play an active role in their work, even if they DO have a huge tribe?”

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Jason, yup, that’s exactly the point I’m making. It’s all about value. But, you’ve got to ask the question the way it’s being asked by those who are asking it.

  4. Leisa LaDell says:

    So much insight. Thanks for crystallizing the way forward for authors and publishers, Johnathan. When it comes to this subject – you. are. the. man.

  5. Carol says:

    Brilliant, Jonathan. I loved the calls to actions and you getting to the heart of the issue for both sides. Well done.

  6. Andy Mathis says:

    Interesting and great insight from both sides of the fence.
    Congrats on the book deal.

    Years ago, many fine artists decided to self publish their artwork, and quickly realized that all the marketing and promotional stuff that art publishers did, takes time. Time that most had rather spend painting.

    Flash forward to today. Galleries are having a rough go of it as well. But the same tools that a painter can use to build a following, the gallery can use to build THEIR following as well. With a little effort and enthusiasm.

  7. Mike Holman says:

    Excellent piece.

    I would argue however, that those of us who write informational or “how to” books, will not benefit much from a tribe.

    I think a tribe works best for authors who command a following with their ideas (Seth Godin) or their brand of storytelling (Stephen King)

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Mike,

      Totally disagree here. Social media is perfect medium for info/how-to writers to establish themselves as thought-leaders, build credibility, reciprocity, add value and build strong devoted tribes before the book even comes out. It’s actually a lot easier for prescriptive non-fiction writers than it is for fiction. Though there’s plenty of opportunity on the fiction side, too.

      • Mike Holman says:

        I would agree with you, if the non-fiction writer wrote books that are connected in some way ie a series of books on home repair/remodeling.

        But if the books are of very different topics ie one on sewing, a 2nd book on historical trains, a 3rd book on child discipline – then I just don’t see where the benefit will be.

        Tell me I’m wrong! I like the idea of having a tribe. 🙂

        • Jonathan Fields says:

          Hey Mike…

          You’re wrong! Happy? LOL.

          Actually I’m betting you could find blogs, forums and social media accounts that focus on all of the above niches. Thing is, they don’t have to be huge, they just have to be the right people.

      • Mike Piper says:

        I would (kind of) agree with Mike here. I’d imagine a tribe is helpful, but I can tell you from experience that (for now anyway) it’s not a necessity. Search traffic alone–both traffic to your site and traffic to Amazon–is enough to get a book rolling.

        That said, I’m excited to soon be releasing my first book since having had more than a couple hundred subscribers.

        • Jonathan Fields says:

          If you’ve got a great site and the ability to draw enough organic traffic, that’s awesome. But if you take that and build a tribe on top of it, the magnifying effect can be pretty dramatic. Good luck with your launch!

          • Mike Piper says:

            Thank you! I’m hoping to see that “magnifying effect” in action. 🙂

          • Mike Holman says:

            Mike, I think the biggest difference for your next book launch will be network, which wasn’t in place for your previous book. It will be very easy to reach out and get a lot of great publicity on a lot of financial blogs which should help speed up the initial sales and Amazon rank boost.

            Might help a bit with long term sales as well.

  8. Anne Wayman says:

    First, congrats on the sale of your book to a trade publisher… hope you got a zillion dollar advance!

    Lots of truth here. I’m behind the curve with tribes – working to catch up. One of my books, self-published in the early early days is still selling some… very long tail and it’s on the list for me to do some marketing again.

    Suspect tribe and reality how-tos like Bowerman’s Well-Fed Self-Publisher are what we authors need… wouldn’t hurt publishers either.

    Will intro this to my book writing class… thanks!

  9. Seth Elliott says:

    In essence, these power-authors have accessed direct consumers and replaced traditional distribution methods. What is to stop them from taking advantage of this position to create a “mini-publishing empire,” with like minded producers (think of how James Patterson now has a staff that writes many of his books).

    I don’t suggest that everyone will wish to do this – but it certainly strikes me as a potential scenario…


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Nothing. But, what’s interesting is that, at least until now, most are still staying with their publishers, but doing it much more on their terms. You mentioned James Patterson, perfect example. According to recent NYT profile, he’s added something like $500 million to his publisher’s top-line, but he’s also arranged to essentially run his own machine within the publisher and stayed with them. For him, the value proposition still works, at least the way he’s been able to leverage it.

  10. Thanks, Jonathan, for addressing this issue from both sides of the aisle. The “us vs. them” approach is galvanizing, but won’t really take either side very far.

    Just like in the music biz, there’s an incredible potential for artists and labels alike that are willing to put down their guns and start finding opportunities together. There’s a limited upside for either party that goes it alone.

  11. as usual, jonathan, your perspective is thought-provoking AND inspiring. thanks for that, again today.

  12. I think the issue of digital rights and royalties is going to be a major sticking point between authors and publishers.

    As of now, self-published authors (or those who own full digital rights to their work) can receive a 70% royalty on US Kindle sales. I imagine that’s far more than the typical ebook royalty from a traditional publisher.

    The Kindle version of my book (The Joy of Less) is outselling the physical one. I don’t know if that’s a sign of the times, or unique to my audience (people interested in simplifying, decluttering, and minimalist living). If it’s a sign of the times, I think publishers might have to share a bigger piece of the pie here.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      These things all need to be worked out, but they’ll be figured out in due time. But, I think the real long-term and potentially massively disruptive change is most about the evolution of power and access

  13. deb walsh says:

    Great post, one I’ll be sharing with my colleagues in music, film, arts management AND publishing. Would love to bundle all this great thinking with that of Dan Pink and his whole new mind theories…as authors (or musicians, dancers, filmmakers) are going to have to electrify both the right AND left sides of their brains if they aspire to reaching their true artistic and outreach/fan engagement goals. The ones that do will be the ones reaping the personal and financial rewards….as you are doing.


  14. It’s a joy to see your thoughts laid out – or today’s thoughts about publishing laid out. I appreciate you taking your time, significant thought and effort to put it down for us.

    The one caveat I would add, just because I’ve been around a bit longer, is that Seth started with 1 fan, as did Paulo and Cory Doctorow. It took the three of them ten years – that’s right at least ten full, long years – to get to a place where they had millions of fans. I think it’s Seth who says you better like what you’re saying because you may be saying it alone for a long, long time. (I always remember the ‘overnight sensation’ of Jim Rome – 10 full years at shitty rinky dink no pay radio stations. Yea Blink 182 too… and the Beatles… and…)

    Tim is a different story.

    Anyway, this is what we’re doing with Cook Street Publishing. We are working through the models; setting up the systems; finding the key players – content editors, proofreaders, people with discerning taste, artists, printers, etc; learning about tribe/platform building; new book marketing, etc. We think we’ll be ready to support other authors by mid-next year. If not next year, the following. Who knows? We may just… do… it…

    Sorry for blathering in your comments. Great topic for me.

    Love ya J, but you know that! 😉

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Completely agree, with rare exception it’s not a short-term process or investment.

      It’s like the famous quote, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is today. : )

  15. Thanks for doing what you do, my friend!

    Kind Regards,

    Alexandra Levit
    Business and Workplace Author and Speaker

  16. Linda Peckel says:


    This article does an amazing job outlining the issues that have made the traditional role of publishers far less necessary than before online marketing. Publishers are no longer in the business of monopolizing what gets published, but they are still crucial to helping authors find their audiences.

    One of the biggest roles of publishers, which I think you may have overlooked, is helping writers to bring their content to finished, publishable form. The EDITOR is not obsolete at all, but as writers circumvent publishers, they are not getting the editing help they need. The majority of what is self-published is often laden with typos, factual errors, grammatical errors (is that spelled right?), errors of construction. Editors were generally extremely supportive of their authors, providing a new set of eyes that could catch things no author would want to see in final print. Now, it all goes out there. Writers don’t have the time to go back and reread what they wrote previously, and can easily develop an archive of work that is really less than the writer is capable of.

    The publishing process had a lot of benefits to writers we may have lost. Editors considered the audience, and were somewhat more tuned in to who the marketing strategy would reach. While authors now have to become much more savvy about the marketing of their work, they still need the support of a good editor. This is a huge function that publishers can fill, to help even the best writers really grow.

    Proofreaders are enormously helpful too. As a writer, I have very little time to proofread, and I often miss things because I’ve read it so many times in the writing stage. As a reader, it really drives me crazy to read something that has a lot errors–I’ve read books on Kindle that have cut who pages, or repeated paragraphs, or had sentences that just didn’t make sense. Nothing like sitting on the beach with a simple book you can’t understand.

    The online platform for writing has only proven how hungry the world is for written content. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all offering the best quality?

    So the bottom line is we still need publishers, but they need to go back to their editorial roots and find a way to partner with writers, rather than control them–and both sides of partnership will thrive.

    Thanks for your provocative posts!

    • Jonathan Fields says:


      I completely agree on the value of editing. I’ve benefitted from it immensely. That’s what I meant when I said shaping up toward the top of the article. But, what I also said is that editing has become an element of the value proposition that is now far easier to hire yourself. If you’ve got the money and the desire, there are many really good editors who can work on a project/freelance basis to help shape your book.

      So, yes, editing is immensely valuable, my point was that publishers are no longer the only real place to find that service.

      • Linda Peckel says:

        I can see your point, but I would be wary of hiring editors freelance, without any attachment to the marketing side of publishing. (I truly cannot believe I am saying this!)

        When good editors work in specific fields, they see trends and begin to understand the marketplace, simply because they are not immersed on the ground floor of content making. They have a structure to stand on, and that’s usually the publishing entity.

        I think rather than trashing the whole notion of publishers in the editorial process, they ought to become service organizations FOR writers, maybe more like PR companies or ad agencies that serve clients.

        Unfortunately, it still doesn’t clarify how writers get to make money for what they do.

        • Jonathan Fields says:

          Sounds like you may have just come up with a very interesting business idea, lol!

  17. Rich D. says:

    I think of traditional media as “legacy brand media.” The big names in media still convey trust and legitimacy in their articles. Although they may have financial problems, legacy media continues to be a powerful promotional tool, if you have the editorial contacts to score interviews.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yes and no. Certain ones do.

      But check this out. At a recent book marketing event that I ran, I asked a room full of writers, aspiring authors and published authors if they could identify the publishers of the last 10 books they read. These are the people you’d figure would be paying the most attention…not a hand in the room went up.

      Certain publishers have very strong category-driven brands. We all know what Harlequin stands for. But, in my experience, they’ve become the exception to the rule.

  18. Frank says:

    I’m merely going to make one point and one point only.

    You write “When Paulo Coehlo shares a single update on his Facebook page, more than 2.5 million fans see it”

    This is BS. 2.5 million fans DO NOT see Paulo’s updates. Do you even use FB??

    Do you know how large one’s FB newstream can be the more friends you have?? Have you ever wondered why different people comment on your post in FB and not always the same people? Because many DO NOT SEE YOUR FB post! Just like many do not see a TWITTER post, unless one is meticulously tracking every single post by one person.

    So while I agree with you in that authors and potential authors should be embracing “their tribe” a la Burning Man, that does not mean you will garner 2.5 million fans!

    Self-marketing is not everyone’s talent. Some are exceedingly good at it. And some aren’t! There are no guarantees in life, other than death!

    And the same applies to how well you market yourself and how good you are at it.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks for the comment, Frank. You’re right, it’s unlikely that all 2.5M fans see his updates.

      BUT, there are some interesting things about FB’s algorithm, one that most people don’t know about. The percentage of your followers/friends/likes who actually see your updates is a factor of, at least in part, an internal quality score that FB assigns to your page. And, one of the biggest factors in the score is the level of engagement on the page. Paulo’s page has an extraordinarily high level of engagement. It’s not unusual for each update to have thousands of likes and comments. Because of that, his updates are likely seen by an unusually high percentage of his total followers. A far higher percentage than your average user would experience.

      Proof of this is in the extraordinary rate of growth of his FB following. You can’t do that if your updates aren’t being viewed, liked, commented on and shared by a large percentage of followers.

      Hope that clarifies things. Oh, and yes, btw, I do use FB. 😉

      • Jonathan:

        I am a literary publicist who works with authors that already have a very well carved out, high public profile. I get a big kick out of all the talk about ‘tribe building’ and social networking today because I think the value of these tools is highly over sold to the average writer out there in the field (i.e. someone NOT yet published by a traditional publishing house). I get calls EVERY DAY from writers– some novice, some mid-level — asking about self-publishing and why no one is paying attention to them or buying their book online.

        You realize that self-published writers will not be reviewed? Have you ever heard of the Library Journal? Yes, libraries still exist and buy books. If you are self-published, you will not be bought by any libraries. Guess what? There’s still a lot of libraries out there.

        I think you are encouraging mediocre writers who have a few ounces of promotional savvy to clog the system. In a sour economy, there are a lot of people out there with time on their hands who might be willing to invest their savings in a losing proposition.

        Non-fiction and fiction are two different animals. If you are an expert in a field and have a story to tell the public that will educate them, then yes. Promote yourself to the hilt. Social network ’till the cows come home. Write your book and find a lit agent and have them pitch it to every size publishing house. If they all “pass” on the book, and you still want to use the book as marketing tool for your profession of choice, then go the self-pub route.

        If you write fiction?? You will get creamed if you try to self publish. You will invest a great deal of time and money and will possibly get very few returns on that investment. You will likely lose money.

        Writers should be encouraged to write and do what they do best. One book does not make a writer. And also, the best writers are not always the best at sales. Follow the path: first, come up with a great idea. Write a great book. Find a lit agent. If you can convince one to take you on, work with them. Improve the book. Submit to publishers. If they all turn you down, then maybe the book is not that engaging and perhaps you are not seasoned enough as a writer yet. I stress “yet.”

        But, my god, they say, I’ve done all this work! I set up a website, and I have all these friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn? Why do I need those publishing people who turn me down, they ask?

        Flashy websites and 1000 friends on Facebook do not translate to automatic book sales. You may not be the writer you thought you were. And don’t blow your nest egg in this economy on outside editors and marketers and whatnot. There’s only so many spots at the table. We all can’t be celebrities.

  19. Paula G says:

    Excellent and thorough article. Particularly what people say they want and are willing to do to get it. I know personally when it comes to my hard-copy published endeavors the willingness to focus on that is in my upcoming plan but hadn’t been initially. So there’s no trading the fact that time and commitment are required no matter what, but for those willing to play, new possibilities abound.

    I recently had a conversation on one of my podcasts with Penny Sansevieri where we touched on this topic. You can catch that fee here: http://bit.ly/90KiT3 She shares some of her book marketing expertise as part of our larger conversation on success.

  20. […] title of the long and valuable post is A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors. He neatly describes what publishers used to do and what’s happened as we’ve […]

  21. heidi2524 says:

    Very nice piece, and one close to my heart as an aspiring author and as someone wanting to create products and services to help new authors with their online promotion and marketing.

    You’re right on target about most authors not wanting to take the time away from their writing to develop an online platform – in a recent survey I did, someone said exactly that. But they feel the pressure to have an online presence, especially new authors, since any publisher money is going to toward promoting the big names, people who don’t really need the marketing efforts anyway.

    The idea of a publisher having their own digital tribe is interesting. Do you think such a model could apply to literary agencies as well? And would that, in turn, help those agents sell more of their authors’ books to publishers, since the publisher would know there is some built-in online promotion and marketing happening?

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Interesting question about agencies. They’re caught very much in the middle of this evolution, too. And, yes, I think anyone who had made a living by being in some way between the author and the reader can benefit by finding ways to add value into the experience of both the author and the ultimate consumer.

  22. That IS pretty epic. I mean, the post…(and the concept) — immediately thought of vook.com – they’re pretty incredible, and taking the concept of ebook to a whole ‘nother level. I got Seth’s Super Ideavirus from them and it rocks.

    I’d say this is pretty much a prophecy of what’s to come… Certain companies are capturing the human spirit on a different level now, and the flow is towards being more and more real. These are the companies that will really thrive, as the tides continue to shift in mass consciousness and business.

    The other thing that comes to mind is… looking fwd to more about your new book, and more destruction. The old ways must die to make way for the new…!

  23. Adam King says:

    What do I think?

    I simply sit here, nod my head, and smile.

  24. Great industry analysis! Thank you!

  25. Annabel Chiarelli says:

    Much of this could apply to the music business as well.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Doesn’t surprise me, Annabel. A few others have mentioned that in the comments, too. I think the music biz may actually be a few years ahead of publishing, having been pushed by the impact of peer-to-peer sharing earlier in the curve.

  26. I’m an author with two non-fiction and two novels published.

    I agree that the tools we now have create massive opportunities but I think this applies much more to non-fiction than to fiction.

    The impediment for novelists like myself is that our skill is in writing fiction and the idea of leaving the traditional publishing temple to go out in the streets and flog our own work is confronting to say the least. It’s also bewildering because we only see a very small part of the publishing process – not the whole.

    Having said that it is also very frustrating not having that knowledge or expertise. I have a novel that achieved best-seller status in Australia, has an movie option and is ‘in development’ (which is a very loose term!). I’ve been working with the director and producer in LA on the screenplay for two years – but one of the issues in getting it made is that it has not been published in the US. My publisher would prefer to tackle that issue when the movie is at the ‘green light’ stage but it’s tough getting it to that stage without a US publisher. The ol’ Catch-22!

    Despite having four books published, I have little or no idea how start to deal with this problem. Authors are not business people (mostly) and these matters are mind-bogglingly complex for the uninitiated.

    What we need now are people in the industry with the ability to expand their role beyond being an agent and become people who mentor/train authors so we can expand our skills and hold our own in this exciting new world of publishing.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, there’s a lot of wackiness in the way the “intellectual property” is sold, developed and brought to market. I’ve had a lot of conversations about the role of tribe-building for fiction authors and come to believe a few things.

      One, you’re right, it’s not quite as easy as it is for nonfiction, especially prescriptive nonfiction. But, it is entirely doable. You just end up sharing different things. Most fiction readers would love to know more about authors whose work they enjoy, so there’s a great opportunity to share parts of your process, ideas and life. I know fantasy authors who’ve built substantial online tribes and they tap those tribes as help build out the stories, characters and worlds.

      Good luck getting your book onto the screen and into more countries and readers’ hands!

  27. Evan says:

    It’s usually new companies that do well out of new opportunities. Cobb&Co didn’t build cars.

    All the signs are that this is going to be true in publishing. Increasingly the traditional publishers want people who are already celebrities. (And then they are lucky to get 10% of the price).

    I don’t think it will be long before some digital marketers specialise in promoting books (hardcopy and ebook versions) – and promoting themselves to publishers.

    Are the slideshow people a new company or an offshoot of a traditional publisher?

    There is a good book on this called The Innovators Solution. Part of it is about the new people being under the radar until it is too late for the big original players. Well worth a read.

    If the online marketers can offer 25% to authors and get the same or more sales than traditional publishers – traditional publishing (but not hardcopy books) are dead in the water.

  28. Sean Cook says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    As usual, you kind of blow my mind. You’ve given me a few ideas for being more purposeful in how I engage my audience and maybe even partner with them differently.

    I’m stirring them around inside my head now and even getting a little dizzy thinking about how to connect the dots here.



  29. Ah the times they are a changin…

    Great article and one of the most comprehensive (for a blog post) I have encountered on this subject!

    People are forgetting this happened to the music industry in less than a decade! Indeed traditional publishing is in for a wild ride and it will come faster than you will have ever imagined!

    I am one of those wanna-be writer / blogger / infopreneur types you write about… I have been working on building my tribe while learning the ins and outs of technology platforms, social media strategies and tactics all at the same time. I can tell you from experience that it is a bloody slow process to get 1000+ opt-in subscribers to your blog! I am literally a needle in an immense haystack… like you say… don’t believe anyone who tells you can build your digital scene quickly. Which is why many authors would rather write…

    The idea is to make the author /publisher relationship one of higher value for both parties… when my scene is big enough, I will have more influence with a partner who can bring a larger audience, in turn, my work brings with it an eager tribe willing to pay for every word I write…the marketing is built in to my scene…making it far easier for my publisher to sell more stuff…whatever form it happens to be in at the moment.

    Thanks Jonathan!

    Thomson Dawson

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      And, remember, who is in your tribe is a zillion times more important than how big it is

      • Ardin Lalui says:

        Great post. It encourages me to keep putting in the work required to build up a little tribe of my own. Thanks for the advice.

  30. Jonathan,

    Great… first, let me say, Love this:

    “It’s hard to add value on a level that translates to impact when you’re working from a scarcity mentality.”

    No joke.

    I so resonate with all that you said here. Having had an in-house publication and a “BIG HOUSE” pub, (no pun intended?), I know something about both experiences.

    Well, selling myself short there.

    But I can say that you did a masterful job of nailing it–and taking the high-road. Let’s face it, publishing, in the most standard, and brutal form, can be rather challenging as in ass-kicking rough. So you sharing the best of the best, the right move for both is a big deal.

    I pondered if I’d have “told them” or not. Probably… but you still have to ask. I did get some similar advice inside the Big “R” House… and well, not so well received.

    It’s interesting to see some of the people who have left the industry and found ways to use their blindness and resistance to their advantage in big ways.

    But I digress.

    As I read this, I thought of my last book and the feeling of working with the publishing house being like i was put in a time machine and sent back to the 1970’s… of business. They had it figured out…

    I really suggested my next book would be, “The Death of the Last Dinosaur: How Publishing Extincted Itself”

    Not far off… not far.

    I’m glad you recognized the value of the pubs still and the significance of getting a deal. I do a lot of writing about e-books vs. books and while there’s an argument to be made on both sides, the reality is that when you put something in between to hard backs, a lot of people have checked it, asked quesiton, expected more, driven you, etc.

    On the other hand, you can get drunk drop your computer and print out the mess it made and you’ve got an ebook.

    Ain’t a sole gonna ask.

    I love the advice to Publishing houses. Interestingly, my bro and i toyed with setting a publishing house up for a while and it was based on the advanced marketing play and personalization, consumer profiles, etc.

    I do think that publishers can and should build really strong, relevant, targeted list. Imagine if you as the author came to them and they showed you the lists, the target, the results they can produce… shared thier wisdom.

    yeah, only the poor fool would do it themselves. This is plug and play..

    Thanks for the massive knowledge dump… loved it.

    Much to say about it… some day.


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience on this Shawn. It’s definitely an industry in the midst of a whole lotta evolution. I’m actually really psyched to be working with my current team. Like i’ve shared, for my bigger business model, there’s still a lot of value. Even so, I won’t be relying on anyone else to move the marketing needle when it comes time to launch.

  31. Mark Kelly says:

    Really great post here Jonathan. It got me thinking that traditional publishers must feel a bit like Blockbuster did prior to Netflix/Red Box putting the hurt on them. Sure traditional publishers have a lot more value add and clout with book stores that is slightly harder to replace vs what Blockbuster had but it is a perilous position for them nonetheless. Your advice aligns well because if they do not add more value and change with the times eventually they will have to fight for a shrinking percentage of the market.

  32. Thanks for this great insight! As a book marketer, many of my clients work with traditional publishers and I agree, there’s a ton of validation and credibility that comes with having those logos attached, not to mention the distribution which, as you clearly point out, is an incredible value.

    Yet the traditional pub process is a slow one – even with an agent and a rockin’ proposal, it can take a year to have the book in hand. An author must be engaging people throughout that process so that when the book launches, when the short window of media attention is attainable, there’s a way to capture new tribe members. But then what? It could be years before a new book deal is finalized. What are you feeding your tribe in the meantime?

    Many of my clients (non-fiction ones) resist creating anything new – a newsletter, white papers, e-books or an interesting blog or social media “experiment.” Yet they scratch their heads wondering where all the attention and speaking invitations went once their books are no longer “new” (a shorter window of time that most believe.) Even true bestsellers can get “stale”. The content and expertise of the author may be perennial, but the packaging needs to be fresh to keep momentum. A tribe, even a small one, needs nourishment or they’ll pick up and move camp.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      So true, Krista. My next one’s not out until fall 2011, but because I’m a marketer and blogger, too, that doesn’t bug me nearly as much because everry day I get to engage, serve and share with more people and build a bigger tribe in anticipation of the release. If you’re not doing that, though, it’s going to be a tougher and tougher road ahead as an author.

  33. Amanda says:

    Great original and innovative insights once again, Mr. Jonathan. I couldn’t agree more with most all you said, after my 18 years in the bookselling business.

    Talk about rocking the Casbah.

    The only piece missing from the discussion is the marketing done by booksellers. Having managed bookstores from tiny to huge over the past 18 years, I can’t begin to remember how many times a customer asked us for advice on what to read next, trusting our judgment because we’d given them many recommendations in the past. Particularly in fiction, self-help, new age and business motivation. There are always a few booksellers in each store who have the background,knowledge and passion for books to give such advice. Interestingly, very few visiting authors took the time to figure out if any of those booksellers were working when they came in for an event or to sign on hand copies, and to get to know them and draw them into their tribe.

    Another brick and mortar issue will be the many unpleasant customer experiences over pricing. I’m no longer in the business, partly because of burning out on such things. (The explosion of theft and scams being another factor.) “If an e-book costs $9.99 why should we have to pay $24.95 or whatever for a new HC?” I can just hear this echoing ad nauseum from those (read most) customers who don’t get the economics of the book business. Or pretend not to. “Well if you’re not prepared to match that price, I’m taking my business elsewhere,” in an intimidating mode. Feel free to **** off runs through the bookseller’s mind behind the sweet smile after they’ve heard this 600 times.

    I do know that the biggest chains are cutting way back on brick and mortar inventory, which does not bode well for non-bestselling/mid-level authors in terms of shelf exposure and bookseller hand selling.

    Just a few more elements to throw into what I agree is an intensely exciting evolution of the business. (Except for all the booksellers who will be losing the part-time jobs which help support them through college, sadly.)

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks for adding this, Amanda. I have less experience and sources from that side of the fence, so it good to get an inside look at the psychology, reality and perception.

  34. […] Jonathan Fields had a great essay on the role of publishers and authors in the new era of electronic media. […]

  35. […] A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors “First, accept one fact – if you just like to write and have no desire to share and be paid for the content you create, that’s fine. That’s amazing. What a gift to have that outlet. But, if you want to get paid to write. And, I’m not talking chump change, but real live-well-in-the-world money, accept that you can no longer be just a writer, you must also be an entrepreneur, a marketer and a tribe-builder.” […]

  36. […] Fields on Jonathan Fields A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors “You now have the tools to reach digitally and directly into the hearts, souls and minds of […]

  37. […] Fields on Jonathan Fields A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors “You now have the tools to reach digitally and directly into the hearts, souls and minds of […]

  38. […] Fields wrote a really good essay on this topic called A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors.  Well worth a […]

  39. […] Fields (author of Career Renegade) has written a tremendous article entitled A Modest Proposal for Publishers and Authors.  In the article, Fields suggests that for the good of both publishers and authors, they learn to […]

  40. Derek Dugan says:

    I think traditional publishing will always have an important role to play in the publishing business. Now we all know, business-wise, that the only thing that is really consistent in business is incosistency – meaning the business – any business in fact – will always change. Self-publishing seems a good idea, but it is easy to make a plethora of mistakes with it. Traditional publishing houses, however, can act as a guide to new authors, uniting their niche or talent to the right audience – each individual reader. What will probably emerge in the next twenty years or so is an outcome none of us could likely have predicted.

  41. Evan says:

    Hi Derek, yes, publishers could match authors with their niche – but at the moment they don’t: they look for people who are already famous.

    The publishers could get savvy about niches but there is no evidence that they are doing so.

  42. Very enlightening article on how the future of the publishing industry (publishers, content creators and content consumers) is likely to reshape itself…with room for everyone to co-exist.

  43. Jonathon, great post.

    An important area that you did not cover, but will become increasingly important for authors and publishers to understand is generating multiple revenues streams from their content, skills, knowledge and expertise.

    In China musicians can’t sell their music because as soon as they release a song it is copied and distributed for free on the Internet. But there is a thriving music scene in China with many musicians and bands making a good livings. Because they have never had the opportunity of making money from their songs they have become very creative at making money in many other ways including sponsorship, product placement, advertising, licensing, live gigs, merchandising, private gigs, ringtones, clothes labels, and more.

    And its not just in China that attitudes are changing. in the music chat rooms in the US and UK they talk about needing ‘one days salary from a thousand fans’ to turn music into a career. That is they need to generate $125 dollars over the period of a year from a 1,000 fans to earn $125k and allow them to give up their day job. They are obviously not going to generate this from music sales so they are being creative with live events, paid fan clubs, merchandising, etc.

    There are many similarities with what has happened in the music world with what is starting to happen in the book publishing world.

    Authors who want to self-publish, build a tribe and make enough to survive and thrive will need to follow the example set by musicians in China. It will probably horrify most authors to think about sponsorship, but would it have been too bad if “A Year In Provence” was sponsored by the French Tourist Board or would the next Jason Bourne book be hugely impacted if he used an IPhone?

    There are dozens of ways that authors, both fiction and non-fiction, can make revenues in addition to book sales. Some are well trodden paths such as speaking, research and training, but there are many that have yet to become common place such as merchandising, product placement, mentoring, private paid appearances, paid subscription websites, online courses, advertising, spin-off products (such as board games)…..the list goes on.

    Historically managing all these opportunities and income streams would have been impossible for an individual, but today with a website it si becoming cheap and simple.

    JonathanFields.com has book sales, speaking, paid brainstorming and advertising so that’s four revenue streams to get started, with many more that could still be added.

    Authors and publishers are going to have to be much more creative about how they make money in future and those that work it out are likely to do very well.

  44. […] A Modest Proposal For Publishers and Authors – Share and Enjoy: […]

  45. […] Fields has a Modest Proposal for Publishers and Authors. It’s time to come together in the digital […]

  46. Nick says:

    I love this and it is so ridiculously well timed as I am using your points from the Tribe pdf to help me promote my book. For somebody like me it appeared like publishing or writing a book would be impossible but now with the self publishing route I can really do this and make it happen. Thank you for everything you post/write you serve as a great inspiration for what we/I can do.

  47. I’m late into this conversation – but then, that’s the story of my life.

    Having had a hiatus, I am working my way back to writing and publishing, but have been taking great interest in the developments, which as you suggest, are fast and furious

    It is refreshing to find myself in broad agreement with directions that you include in an excellent essay. But I think there is something that you, in line with very many, miss. That is the actual size of total market.

    Perhaps it started with mobile (cell) phones, but the web, over the past decade, has drawn in many people to regular reading, who come from non-reading backgrounds. One cannot do anything on the web without exposure to words, words in great quantities.

    Since, traditionally, the regular buying-book-reader market was way below 50%, this increase opens a massive opportunity that is less about ‘grabbing’ share, than making share.

    Which brings another point, that for all the wide angle on publishing here, it still misses all the other variants. the other ways of reaching a public.

    And without occupying yet more space, I would, as again I often do ;-), remind everyone there’s a lot of world outside America.

  48. Tara Maya says:

    Amazing article. Yes, you are so right. It doesn’t seem like publishers are ready to do this yet, but it would be great. As a writer, I really enjoyed writing the stories that went into my anthology, Conmergence, but I’d rather be working on my next novel than pimping my last book, unless it’s something subtle and tasteful, like linking to the Amazon page in the comments section on a blog.

    Actually, I would prefer publishers did that too, but in the interests of meeting halfway and all that….

  49. Great post and I also like the comments and observations of Miles Galliford. I remember back in the 80s, when bands first started looking at themselves as businesses. Duran Duran was one of the first groups to openly admit it, but hundreds of small bands were doing the same on the road to getting signed.

    Now authors may have to do the same. This will result with two types of successful authors – the ones who have the traditional deal and the ones who, through creative marketing, savvy promotion strategies, persistent vision and hard work, cobble together support for their brand from book sales, speaking tours, sponsorships, and related activities. The rest will fall in the middle somewhere, and I do mean fall…

  50. […] Jonathon Fields points out in his excellent post, “If you want an enduring career as an author, you must become an enterprise.” That means […]

  51. Sandra says:

    The only problem with this new Digital age of books is the sandbox effect the device provider has complete control over all content

  52. Kelly says:

    While the ways in which authors market themselves have certainly evolved with social media, has it really changed all that much? The most successful authors have ALWAYS marketed themselves by doing book tours, readings, mailings or whatever song and dance it took.

  53. […] requires some investment with no guarantee you will sell books. Self-publishing ultimately requires ongoing strategic planning to be successful, at least if you define success in terms of sales. Of course there are other […]

  54. […] Many argue that innovation in the field has opened up powerful opportunities for those who are willing to think a little differently, embrace social media and technology, and, according to Jonathan Fields, to invest in tribes. […]

  55. […] his popular article A Modest Proposal for Publishers and Authors, Jonathan Fields wrote that “Most authors haven’t done and don’t want to do what’s […]

  56. […] In your article A Modest Proposal for Publishers and Authors, you wrote that “Most authors haven’t done and don’t want to do what’s necessary to […]

  57. […] Jonathan Fields says the publishing world is in mass flux and offers valuable insight into that which is really worth the read here. http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/a-modest-proposal-for-publishers-and-authors/ […]