The Career Author Podcast: Episode 144 – Technology and Publishing

Technology and Publishing

Technology and Publishing

It’s crazy to think there was a time not too long ago where the only way to read a book was by picking up a physical object and reading real, paper pages. Or when audiobooks were called ‘books on tape’ because you had to pop one cassette at a time into a tape deck in order to hear your favorite book read to you by a narrator.

Times have changed fast. Not only with how we consume books, but also with how they are published. With things moving as quickly as they are, what could come next? Tune in to this week’s episode to hear how the guys think technology will continue to change the publishing industry.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • What other innovations could come to the eBook and eReaders
  • How A.I. can change publishing
  • How software and algorithms could change how you tell stories
  • Why technology has created more opportunities for creatives

Also, Zach recommends a new Netflix documentary.

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Leave us a comment: What will be the next big innovation in publishing?

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18 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 144 – Technology and Publishing

  • Morning guys. Interesting topic. Might be an age thing but I’m not worried about technology because twas ever thus.
    Way back in time Oral Storytelling was a highly respected profession. Oral Storytellers travelled the lands on tour like Rock Bands. Imagine Homer’s consternation when people started writing his stories down, “I’ll be out of a job…” (I translated this from the Greek).
    In Ireland I believe the last full-time professional Oral Storyteller died in the 20th Century but in Eastern Europe, Africa and India some full-time Oral Storytellers still exist.
    In the USA there is even an annual National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough Tennessee. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Storytelling_Festival.
    So the new technology of writing did affect the oral tradition but it didn’t kill it. I think the same will happen in terms of AI and writing today. I think the human brain will always beat AI because we learn and evolve. I have yet to see any evidence that AI can learn and evolve independent of human interaction. For evidence I give you Star Trek…
    To answer your question I think trad publishing and other large organisations will kill off Amz and FB advertising for the Indie soon, but I suspect we will learn and evolve and maybe there will be more Bookbub type players. Yes trads will eventually move in to takeover those also but Indies are faster and more flexible so we will keep moving.
    Interesting discussion today but I am an optimist. Pessimism can lead to stagnation.

  • Another excellent podcast and discussion. I rarely comment because I’m often out running when I listen to your show – and that thing happens where I think about a comment I want to make then it slips off into the void, and I lose the thought the same way I lost my hair . . . 😉

    Listening to this great chat, I’m reminded, of course, of the sage advice from Joanna Penn when it comes to doubling down on your humanity. It’s a potential strategy that works well against the book-a-month or two-books-a-month authors and publishing machines that we are competing against as writers (and that I know I’ll never be able to keep up with) as well as the AI story generating machines that will soon be upon us. Time and again, it’s that personal touch, that humanity, that authenticity that makes a difference, at least for enough of the readers.

    Thanks for the shout out about my Kickstarter. Big virtual hugs to you both. I appreciate your kind and generous words (as always). Of course, the fact that you enthusiastically gave that shout out to me and the Kickstarter is very likely a direct result of the humanity, and not my skill as a writer or editor, or even the things I’ve accomplished as a book industry person. (If I was inauthentic you’d likely see through me like a cheap suit and call me on my BS. Just saying this to support the previously mentioned importance of that humanity as a storyteller, writer/etc in the coming, and current face of mass production that we simply cannot out-perform or keep up with)

    Oh yeah, and ANOTHER thanks. [Inserting partial sarcasm here] Liz and I are watching Sons of Anarchy because of your talk about the show’s great writing, I got hooked on AWAY (Hillary Swank Netflix series) because of your positive comments about the pilot episode, and with this episode, you’ve shared yet another documentary that I know I’ll enjoy. These are just the latest of a huge string of things you guys keep getting me addicted to in audio, books, and visual media. Danggit if you aren’t always so bang on with your recommendations, though!

    Love you guys, love your discussions and your sharing, and always enjoy each of your landmark episodes. (Maybe not so much as Chad enjoys the landmarks, but enough that it makes me smile) 😉

    • Thanks, man! I can barely remember how to get home when I’m running so I know the effort it took for you to remember to comment 😉

      You’re spot on. It’s all about the connections.

      Go Kickstarter!

    • Mark – I don’t know how far you are in SOA, but I asked J this question and curious to your thoughts. If you aren’t at least to the 3rd season it may not make as much sense until you do.

      Do you think the creator had multiple seasons planned before the show started OR are the writers really, really good at continuing to tie things together season to season?

  • Wow! That was a dark take on technology and publishing.

    I completely disagree with the pessimistic outlook. Will technology advances change publishing and create loads of new challenges for indie authors? Absolutely. Do I think authors (or other creatives) are going to die off because of it? Not a chance.

    I believe the only indie authors who will die off are those who bury their heads in the sand about the industry changes, and keep trying to do the same old thing. As the saying goes, “the only constant is change.” We can either embrace and grow with it, or we can ignore it and watch our careers shrivel up. To me it’s like Kodak refusing to acknowledge the shift to digital “film.” If they’d followed and embraced the trends and technology, they could have adapted and remained a leader… Cameras and photography didn’t go away, but the old-school Kodak model of it certainly did.

    I don’t believe that authors who are true storytellers, with a unique voice and style—and who work to build a base of fans—are going anywhere. Many things about what we do will change. Many things will become more challenging. That said, I’ll never be convinced that authors are a dying breed.

    And seriously, with the level of pessimism that’s colored the podcast lately, ya’ll are going to have to change your outlook—or change the name to “No Such Thing as The Career Author.” I hope it’s the former because, really, it’s not all doom and gloom.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sally. We appreciate and encourage diversity of thought and opinion. Sliding between optimism and pessimism, for individuals as well as society, is a good balance to keep from going too far in one direction.

    • I’m more or less aligned with your outlook, Sally. I’m optimistic, although, admittedly, I’m also a little fearful. I’m fearfully optimistic? Cautiously optimistic? But, like you, I’m convinced we need to understand what’s coming and how we storytellers/authors can differentiate and distinguish ourselves – that will never die. It’s in our blood as career authors.

      But I am glad to have J and Zack’s “negative” or perhaps “less than optimistic” perspective on technology to bounce my own existing perceptions against. It helps me weigh the coming storm in a more realistic light and prepare rather than assuming my flimsy umbrella isn’t going to blow open in the prevailing winds of change.

      • I’ll add (because I didn’t address it in my first reply) that I consider our perspective more realistic than pessimistic. Semantics, maybe. But I think it’s just as important not to bury your head in the sand and pretend there haven’t been/won’t be negative consequences when it comes to technology. Historically, it’s NEVER been a rosy, smooth ride to progress. Some people get a ride on that bus and some people get thrown under it.

      • Ha! I like “fearfully optimistic,” Mark.

        I think my fearful side will encourage me keep a close eye on the changing environment, and the optimistic side will help me with out-of-the-box problem solving to keep growing and stay relevant, despite the new obstacles.

        And yes, I agree that it’s good to hear all perspectives and then find a balance that will keep us moving forward. Given the vast amount of knowledge and creativity that resides in the collective indie brain, I’m (cautiously) confident we can avoid becoming the Kodak or Blockbuster of the publishing industry. Fingers crossed, and all that. 🙂

  • As an author, I can see your point about the occupation of “author” disappearing. But as a consumer, I don’t think I would mind reading an AI generated story, as long as it’s entertaining. If it’s entertaining, then why not? To use your book binding analogy, sure there are way less people binding books nowadays, but I don’t refuse books because they were bound by a machine. The machine binds the book better and more efficiently than humans. Who knows? Maybe machines are way better at telling stories than we are. That just means more high quality media for us to consume!

    But that’s just me trying to find the silver lining amidst your ap-author-lyptic vision of the future.

  • Great thought-provoking episode Here’s my 2 cents:
    F**k AI!
    We can’t escape it, but I refuse to fear it. AI novels/screenplays will probably find an audience and even become “all the rage” for awhile. But I believe there will always be a readship for real stories created by real people.
    Consider this: High-production, mass-produced products like Wonder bread, Sanka coffee, Budweiser beer, and Tang were all the rage in the 60s and 70s, but many of us still went to Dunkin Donuts for real coffee, bought real bread at bakeries, and drank imported beer and real OJ. More recently, a huge market has developed for artisan whole grain breads, small-batch craft beers, hand-picked, freshly roasted coffee beans, and organic produce grown by small farmers. Many of us have traded spandex work-out clothing for Merino wool and Diet Coke for sparkling water.
    The electric guitar did not make the acoustic guitar obsolete, and there is still a market for vinyl LPs. There is even a renaissance of music created by musicians playing acoustic homemade and ancient instruments. CGI has not completely replaced real settings and action. Films/TV with no or minimal CGI still do very well too, because it’s the STORIES people crave the most. People will always return to real things created by real people, especially when it comes to story.
    If anything, technology can stimulate a backlash of demand for low-tech, high-quality authentic products made by real people. So bring it on, AI! You will only make human writers better.

  • To quote Mark Leslie Levabarsbre, “There is always room for craft beer”
    I agree with J in that the realistic view is that AI will dominate the creative space of music and books. However, just like Target and Walmart are filled with customers so is Etsy.
    I also think that this is definitely a Landmark episode since it is the one in which J says there will be no Career Authors when this comes to pass.
    Though I think we will still have a niche. It might even be a niche that pays pending on our audience and who are our fans.

  • OK, I love all the AI comments. But I’m really not feeling a deep discussion today. So I feel the need to comment on Zachs talking about the latest video game consoles and how PS4 is going to ‘beat’ MS. First – define what that means? I know these wars have been going on since nintendo vs atari (or commodore) and it’s everywhere – GNR vs the crue. They both have millions of hardware sales, millions of exculsive game sales, and will continue to do so. Does it really matter if sony make 20 million more on hardware than MS this year? that’s just always been my take on it. The only ‘beating’ is the consumer paying for all of the ‘must have’ stuff. Since I got old enough – I just subscribe to the, why fight it – and get ’em all. (though I do also mainly get used – which doesnt support anyone but gamestop, which is probably going away…)
    I think with having a $300 console that you can pay $25 a month for AND get gamepass and xcloud and play the games on your phone, tablet, or laptop – that will really be big. Apple sells a lot of ipads, but I bet amazon sells way more $50 kindle’s.

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