This is how the dominoes begin to fall.

self-publishing and dominoes

CC Image • Martin Fisch on Flickr

Because of the Internet’s asteroid-sized impact on our world, tectonic shifts beneath the surface of the music business caused earthquakes that wholly transformed that industry.

Then, aftershocks started to reshape film and television.

Now, tremors are sending shivers through the book publishing world.

If you put your ear to the ground, you’ll hear the low roar and rumble of change inevitably transforming the publishing industry. Stay there long enough and you can see the ground shake just enough to topple the first domino:

“Around this time I started receiving emails and calls from booksellers telling me they were having trouble ordering my backlist books that had been published by my last publisher. And then that last publisher went under and was bought out by another publisher who inherited all their titles. So in another huge bump in the road, these five backlist books went from being ignored to being part of a fire sale and were now owned by a new publisher that quickly demonstrated they had absolutely no interest in them.

One day right around this time it hit me: I simply can’t do this again. I cannot let another publisher break my heart.”

These words were penned by Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs, who must have done something right because I’ve never seen the movie but I know a movie exists from a book she wrote.

Leaving Traditional Publishing to Seek Self-Publishing

In “Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now),” she shares a distressing, disheartening story—a glimpse into at least one of the seven circles of publishing hell. There are many other successful, traditionally published authors who are now choosing the self-publishing path, but her op-ed on Jane Friedman’s blog seems telling to me in some small yet utterly meaningful way.

Maybe she’s not initiating something so slight as toppling dominoes.

Maybe she’s Moses, and there’s about to be an exodus.