Publishing has changed, and many of the consequences won’t be evident for decades. But I’ve got a prediction. I believe we’re going to see a string of stories five, ten, twenty years from now. We’re going to hear from people who gave up on writing who suddenly become bestsellers many years after their most recent publication.
It’s difficult to see this coming, because right now that would be nearly impossible. I’m sure it has happened to a handful of people whose backlist was discovered after they passed away. Philip K. Dick sells better now than he did in his lifetime, for instance. But the reason these stories will sprout up in abundance is because their books will stay just as discoverable ten years from now as they are today. They’ll never be taken off the shelf. I don’t believe we an appreciate how bizarre a development this is because enough years haven’t passed to highlight the power of permanence.
We will one day hear from people who self-published a handful or a dozen titles before moving on to something else. And then their books will find an audience and grow. This will happen to hundreds of people. Thousands of people. Suddenly, they will find that a book they wrote in a different stage of their life is paying for a tank of gas, a utility bill, a college loan. Their stories will take off a decade or more after writing and publishing them. Just watch. Better yet: get writing.