“Publishing used to be an industry. Now it’s a button.”
That aphorism by NYU professor Clay Shirky overstates the case, but only a little.
I signed up to write my sixth book back in the olden days of 2005. Seems like only yesterday, right?
But from a writer’s point of view, 2005 might as well be a different century. In those days — before Facebook opened to the general public, before YouTube, before Twitter — the only way to deliver long-form communication to a broad public was via printing press, just as in 1905 or 1805.
The Web could carry journalism, of course, but experience had proven that most people stopped reading online at about the 500-word mark. If a writer aspired to reach an audience of any size, he or she had little choice but to depend on a large commercial publisher.