It’s time to dig out the magic 8-ball app on my iPad and predict what will be coming in the writing and publishing industry in 2012. We’re in the midst of giant changes in the industry. Here’s what I think will happen this year:
Full-service e-books: With all the laid-off folks from the publishing industry floating around, we’ll see full-service shops opening up to assist writers who want to publish their own e-books. I predict the development of consortiums of displaced professionals. These shops will offer editing, cover design, formatting, special features such as links, matchmaking with illustrators, uploading to the major e-readers, and marketing. Without a doubt.
Consumer protection suits: Now that lawyers have discovered that consumer protection laws can be used against writers and publishers, we’ll see more lawsuits claiming readers were misled into purchasing fiction and nonfiction with advertising. Nonfiction writers have borne the brunt of these cases so far, but consumers will complain that books were advertised as fantasy when they were sci-fi; as nonfiction when they were fiction; as riveting when they fell asleep reading; and as good when the book was a turkey. The winners? Class action lawyers. It is decidedly so.
Trademark suits: With parodies and mashups galore, ticked off writers and publishers are losing copyright lawsuits against writers making big bucks from mocking their work. They’ll turn to trademark for help. You can’t copyright titles and characters, but they might just be trademarks. Watch for more of these cases trying to erode the right to parody. Outlook not so good.
Licensing: Most writers don’t pay attention to the licensing clauses in their contracts. Watch for publishers licensing their entire catalogues, or only some of their books. Unwary authors will wonder where their royalties went as publishers invoke no-pay-for-mass-licensing clauses to avoid paying anything. Will they get paid? Very doubtful.
Noncompete: As publishers insert more noncompete clauses into contracts, we’ll start to see authors sued the same way employees are sued now – to keep them from going elsewhere. Will the courts uphold indentured servitude like they’ve been inclined to do with employees? Signs point to yes.
Alternate revenue sources: Publishers will insert links in ebooks to purchase items mentioned, like music, other books, and products. Authors will need to start negotiating with publishers for a share of these revenues, or they’ll be left out. How will authors keep from being left out of the revenue stream? Cannot predict now.
That’s all for 2011. May you have a happy, healthy and prosperous writing year in 2012!