It's 2016, and much of the publishing industry is in disarray. Traditional publishing is sliding into chaos, self-pub is constantly and discordantly reinventing itself, and both are being disrupted by new type of publishing ventures, including cooperative and partner publishing.
In these turbulent times, there are more opportunities for writers than ever, including the opportunities which writers find or make for themselves in new and unexpected places.
Richard Nash spoke on this topic at the Writer's Digest conference on Friday. Nash sounded like the personification of a literary elite who just left an Upper West Side cheese-tasting, but he did make a number of useful points.
What I picked up from his presentation was that writers needed to look beyond simply selling a book/article to the many other ways to monetize their work. This starts with merchandizing, but goes beyond that to include finding ways to promote a work with partners in culturally engaged areas, like restaurants, to tie in a partner's service with a book. Nash also talked about how services like Kickstarter let creators "capture all of the value under the demand curve" by offering rewards to fans who will spend $1,000 as well as fans who would only spend $1.
Nash also pointed out that poets had developed a model similar to musicians (I saw the connection, although he did not make the explicit comparison.). A poet might make almost nothing from publishing a book of poetry, but they could sometimes leverage that book into speaking fees. (Musicians use CDs/MP3s and concert gigs to the same effect.) Similarly, a book author can use their book to establish their credibility in their niche and then use that to generate new opportunities.
Yes, I know, anyone who follows this topic can tell you that authors have been using tricks like that for years and in many different industries. All in all, there wasn't much which was actually "new" in Nash's presentation.
But it was a good overview of the existing possibilities.