Too risky? • 5 March 2008 • The SnowBlog
Risk. There's a lot of it about in publishing. And generally startups have more to fear from the unknown than bigger, older companies. Big + old = stability + reserves. New + little = precarious + financially stretched. So on the one hand, a lot of innovation comes from startups, on the other so does a lot of risk.
We often talk about how the big companies need to work with independents both for mutual benefit and for the future of the industry, but what about independents working together? In the past, I've always liked the idea of us little people helping each other out. But that's before I reminded myself about the sources of risk. If your next cheque is coming from a precarious independent there's a bigger chance that something will go wrong and it will never arrive. Likewise if you're a new author signed to a startup: there's a bigger likelihood they won't be around when it's time to launch your book.
Worse still, if an independent runs into trouble, it might find its smaller creditors much easier to ignore than the larger ones with legal teams. The result might be that the knock-on effect hits the little people disproportionately harder.
This is not just hypothetical. Lately we've spoken to a few people - freelancers and authors - who are probably going to be left in the lurch by an independent currently struggling to pay its bills and fulfil its obligations. I still think it's right to support our fellow independents, but it will be a tragedy if the collapse of one fledgling venture causes havoc across a network of freelancers, first-time authors and independent suppliers.