Anyway, out in fiefdoms, the peasants… er readers were growing restless. This new sorcerer named Congo came along one day and started messing with people.
“Hey,” he’d say, like every conversation ever in the history of humanity began, “would you like to see a neat trick?”
And the peasants would say, “Hell yes, entertain us, but be careful, if you use your wizardly sorcerer powers, we’ll call you a witch-demon and put you on the rack until you confess.”
To which the sorcerer replied, “What? I thought this story had moved into like the 20th or 21st century by now. I have to go change costumes into 15th century period fashion.”
But then Congo, the great sorcerer, showed them the trick. He let them choose an item they wanted to buy, and then he would teleport it right to their front door. Or barn door. Or hovel door. Congo didn’t care, he could make items appear right at anyone’s door that had a legal address in a proper zip code.
This caused another revolution of sorts, but it really had nothing to do with The Publishers. Yet. Soon though, the tides of war arrived on the publishing shores, and they had no choice but to take up arms and do battle against the evil sorcerer. For the evil sorcerer Congo was now teleporting books to the doors of peasants everywhere, but this particular spell, according to The Publishers, not only teleported the book to the front door of a peasant… er customer, but a side-effect of the spell is that it also nicked a few cents worth of profit out of The Publishers’ coffers.
The battles raged for a while, but eventually the sorcerer won the ability to demand the terms of a treaty. He didn’t outright destroy The Publishers. He wasn’t really an evil sorcerer. He was pretty damn intelligent, as he knew that his own trick depended on The Publishers doing their job to work. How could the sorcerer teleport books to a peasant’s house if there were no books to teleport because the great sorcerer had destroyed The Publishers who produced the books?
(side note: This wouldn’t be the last time The Publishers clashed with Congo. There’s some more conflict in Chapter 2.5 somewhere. I’m too lazy to look it up, but trust me, Congo The Wise is a very tricky trickster, and The Publishers, by Chapter 2.5, are these old dudes like from The Dark Crystal, which is a kick-ass movie if you’ve never seen it… you really should check it out. Jim Henson and stuff. It’s going to be cheese, but it’s a totally awesome badass cheese. Like Pepper Jack cheese or something.)
And during a night of drunken debauchery with an entire ballroom full of virgins or rappers or something, after almost setting the King’s couch on fire with a slurred Power Word, it came to him. The sorcerer’s epiphany was that he could craft a new spell, one more powerful than any he’d ever crafted, that would teleport the books directly from the author to the peasants. Customers. Sheesh.
Congo The Wise (as he was known by this time) nearly fell off the balcony in surprise at the revelation.
“Why hadn’t I thought of this before?” he asked himself.
He then realized that it had been a long time since he’d had a chance to get roaring drunk at one of the King’s functions. He’d been busting his ass day and night teleporting the shit out of books and shaving cream and tires and even food to peasant after peasant. The moral of this is get really drunk and come up with a good idea.
The Publishers overheard the sorcerer’s frenzied whispers as he devised the new spell, but they just laughed.
“Hahaha, stupid sorcerer,” they said, “without The Gatekeeper, without The Editors, hell, without The Publishers, these authors will fail!”
Besides, they already had all of the best authors under a binding spell, and The Gatekeeper vociferously (I learned a new word today! VOCAB SLAM! Wait, that isn’t a slam…) assured them that it had scoured the very dregs of the slush pile and there was nothing new, tasty, and financially nutritious to be had.
“Go ahead, dumbass,” they chanted to him from outside of his wizardly laboratory. “Stupid wizard! You’re so stupid! No one is going to want a book teleported to their door that hasn’t come from us!”
Then The Publishers laughed a lot and went and got really drunk, spending most of the night clapping each other on the back and telling each other how stupid the sorcerer was.
Imagine The Publishers’ dismay when quietly, slowly at first, the peasants started asking for books from these other authors to be teleported to their doors. The sorcerer, he didn’t gloat or taunt The Publishers. Not too much anyway. He kind of fucked with them a little here and there, but nothing harmful, as again, without these Publishers, the sorcerer would lose a sizable chunk of the gold he received every month from the peasants.
Soon the authors who had been denied by The Gatekeeper were facing such a demand that the sorcerer almost couldn’t keep up with. The sorcerer fiddled around in his laboratory and crafted a newer spell, streamlining some of the tasks that he normally had to do himself, which would allow him to focus on other important aspects of being a Great Wizard.
Or sorcerer. He was one of those things. Maybe both, I mean, I’m not really an expert on the different schools of magic. Like… is there a magician, a conjurer, a sorcerer, a warlock, a wizard, a necromancer, and a druid? Did I name all of them correctly? When I grew up, a magician was some weird guy, possibly a pedophile, that did magic tricks for children at Chuck E. Cheese, and once in a while on television with tigers while making 747’s disappear or stuff. Wizards, I guess, use arcane power? And sorcerers… are illusionists? No, I guess they’d be more than that. Sort of like “Mormons” if Wizards were “Christians”? Druids are those granola-eating hippies that have grass for hair. Warlock… huh. Now I’m getting confused as to what specialty or power each type has. This is getting WAY off topic though. Necromancers are dead guys. Or they play with dead guys. Ugh. Where’s my stupid 3rd Edition GM bible?
So anyway, now all the authors had to do was write their silly little books that The Publishers scoffed at as being trash, excrement, travesties of literature. The truth of the matter is that they were right. Not about every book that the sorcerer teleported directly from the author to the peasant, but at first anyway, they were right about a lot of them. But as time went on, these authors, they sort of banded together and decided to try and help each other. They realized that while some of them were good enough to pass The Gatekeeper, they didn’t really need to anymore. The sorcerer had set them up a pretty good gig to be honest. The sorcerer, he was still getting his share of the gold that the peasants were throwing at these authors.
And The Publishers grew worried once again. Dominating puny little authors took very little effort, but the sorcerer, he was too powerful. He’d had too long to establish himself in their neck of the woods, and now the people wouldn’t tolerate any harm that might come to the sorcerer. Oh, there were plenty of peasants that were still suspicious and even downright fearful of the sorcerer, but then, he’s a sorcerer, and he can probably say a Power Word and make your genitals disappear (or at least screw up your order of monogrammed salt & pepper shakers and accidentally teleport it to Bangladesh instead of The Kingdom of Louisville, KY). I’d rather not have my junk (genitals or condiment dispensers) disappear.
And the authors, they were always wary of the sorcerer. Some were blind in their devotion to him, but most of the authors, including me, have always been a little leery of this whole ‘teleport’ thing. It’s nice when the sorcerer teleports gold into our coin purses, but what if one day the sorcerer wakes up angry and decides to teleport our genitals into our coin purses? Or worse, to the front door of some peasant? For now, the sorcerer seems to be willing to nurture us, but we fork the evil eye at him when he’s not looking to try and ward off any black magic that the dude might be brewing up in that little laboratory of his.
And a lot of us authors are waiting for our non-stick pots and pans to arrive. So, sorcerer, if you are reading this, how about making that happen a little quicker?
And that’s where the story of Traditional Publishers ends. Except that it hasn’t really ended, just that boring-as-shit retelling of the lore. There’s an uneasy truce in the realm. There’s talk of war in the air from some, others repeating rumor of a real truce. Luckily we authors have our champions, our heroes if you will, to lead us on into battle should it come to that. That Sir Hugh Howey dude will inevitably show up on his warhorse wearing Crocs and some +6 Konrath’s Authored Bragging Plate of Domination and take all of the glory. Because that’s what he does.
Just when you are about to kill the final end-boss and reap all the Epic-quality loot for yourself, that guy shows up and slays the dragon or shoves the last evil Publisher over the edge of the castle wall to splat on the stones below… and then all these princess chicks rush up to him and ‘Oh! Sir Howey, you are so brave!’ and he’ll get like nineteen hands in marriage while the King will come out and yell at you, berate you in front of all your friends, and lead you by the ear back to the stables to clean out the muck.
Anyway… With the relative peace, our heroes have spent their time training new recruits in the art of getting an editor, finding a place to get cover art, dealing with formatting, and even teaching the basics of marketing so that the fresh-faced recruits will not fall into the traps that still litter the landscape, like old land mines that might allow twenty thousand feet to walk across it before deciding to finally pop the fuse and have at it.
Moral of the story: old land mines are dangerous and shouldn’t be dug out of the ground by children under the age of seven.