April 9, 2017
Today is Palm Sunday. For Christians, this marks the day we believe Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, across a street covered with palm fronds waved and thrown down by the joyful masses to fulfill another part of the prophecy about the Messiah.
Prophecy is a strange thing. Perhaps we believe. Perhaps we do not. Sometimes we utter what is intended to be a humor statement, and we get are stuck with an overwhelming unusual sensation we can't describe. It may be years until we recall the moment, but when we do, we realize it was what can only be called prophecy.
It's a spooky feeling, to be sure. A couple of years after my father's death, I jokingly said to my mother she needed to find a man with enough money to take care of us and that spooky feeling hit me. Fast forward five years and damned if she didn't go out and do just that. Take another twenty-five-year leap forward through time, and the man she married is standing by her as she fades away from us with Alzheimer's Disease.
Yes, prophecy is a strange thing. I wish I had a prophecy to share about where the ebook industry is headed in 2017. I ponder if I even have a place in it. To say things are in disarray is an understatement. Amazon really has become the biggest game in town. And yet to do well at Amazon, we're told we must give our work away. Having a well-developed sense of self-worth, I know this would devalue me and my talent.
It's discouraging to believe the best option available right now is to keep writing and hope another viable bookseller will rise to challenge Amazon. The romance genre is special. It places what happens between people above who-dun-it. (We all know the butler did it!) Romance is about the journey of self to a new understanding of self. What was so good about ARE was it offered romance without having to wade through the self-promotion of new tech and automatic shimpment services to find it.
All is not lost. I do think something will emerge to fill the void. Those of us who have worked with traditional publishers for many years have learned to simply ride it out. Many of us have been forced into self-publishing but we bring a collective experience with us. In other words, we learned plenty and we'll carry that knowledge forward.
And some of us might be bold enough to retire and open our own digital bookstore specializing in romance. We can only hope that will turn out to be prophecy.