11 11 2009

It’s hard being an independent band, author or filmmaker. Breaking into these businesses takes an incredible amount of tenacity, luck and patience. So few make it. For every one that does, there are dozens, yea hundreds, who languish in obscurity, their labors of love gathering dust.

But languish no more, for Amazon has combined its BookSurge self-publishing arm and CustomFlix (for moviemakers) into CreateSpace, the ultimate do-it-yourself site for creative types.

Of course, critics will scoff and say that we’ve giving the inmates the keys to the asylum. In this era of citizen journalism, everyone with a computer and a camera can duke it out with CNN, et al.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad idea.

Sure, you may never become a rock star, Oscar nominee or Pulitzer Prize winner, but then again, there are stories (OK, maybe legends and myths) of total amateurs getting their lucky break because someone saw (and bought) their work on a DIY site like Amazon’s. Rare, but I suppose it could happen.

But for someone trying to break in to the industry, this may be the fastest, easiest way. I have been pondering the book market for a while, and studying how to write a proper query letter to an agent. After following an agent on Twitter the last year, I am convinced that nearly all of the query letters she receives wind up in the trash.

Which means I had better keep my day job a bit longer.

While CreateSpace will try to lure folks in with profit potential, the real motive should simply be platform. It’s a place to display your work, and make it available to family. Friends. And if you’re lucky, customers.

So is it a kiss of death to go this route in the beginning? Will it lessen your chances of ever getting a real contract some day? I think not. While I dream about one day writing and publishing a book, I realize that I may have to go the self-published route (otherwise known as a vanity press). At least with CreateSpace I don’t have to publish thousands of copies, because…and here’s the best part…it’s all print on demand. In other words, there is no inventory anywhere of their cataloged books, movies and albums. The only “inventory” is the printable or recordable media that CreateSpace holds, which are then converted to finished goods as needed.

It’s a great business model, and if it gives an emerging artist a foothold (albeit a small one) in the world of media and entertainment. It may also be the key not just to the asylum, but also the future. And that’s a doorway I want to walk through.

Dr “Turn The Page” Gerlich



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