Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Choice in Publishing

A group of us are posting on our thoughts on traditional/nontraditional avenues of publishing today. We are all titling our posts My Choice in Publishing. You can find our Tweets and contribute your own (please do!) with the hashtag #mychoiceinpublishing. I'd love to know what you are thinking.

Publishing has never much felt like MY choice. A book is published like this: Someone decides its worthy. They put their name and labor behind it. Sell it to their people. Their people sell it to the world. That is when I will know I'm a writer. Or at least that is how I have been imprinted.

But lately the news has been bleak about the likelihood of that happening. And it keeps coming. Just this weekend the NYT published a story about Amazon stepping up to sign authors. Two days ago on Anne R Allen's blog, agents are overwhelmed, taking too many writers on and not serving the ones they have. Author advances have plummeted and big publishing houses are not willing to take chances on those new authors (watch this video from yesterday on Meghan Ward's Writerland). Besides, the story of an agent/editor finding me and falling in love with my book seems like another of those fairy tales I'm prone to.

My thoughts changed after my friend Anita self published. But not right away. My first thought rose in my stomach like a wave: So cool she is taking this risk. She is so brave and smart. But I am still going the traditional. My initial response, she can do that but not me, showing how attached I am to those old markers of success.

But since then I have watched the worlds attitude towards self-publishing shift. All the reports that the internet has made it possible for writers to get their books to readers faster than ever, cheaper for the readers, more lucrative for the writers. And more and more writers are making the choice. Just read this dialogue between Eisler and Konrath and you'll be convinced too. They say publishing houses are holding on to status quo for dear life against the tide of change and without considering the interest of readers or the interest of writers. Publishers are attached to their role as the gatekeeper and according to E and K, it's a missed opportunity (in the above link to Meghan Ward's video, Andy Ross talks about being a new agent right now and how being new allows him to approach the changes differently).

It's said that the printing press had a big part in the cultural and industrial revolutions. The gatekeepers of the time (the church) resisted and claimed that so much access to the written word to be the end of the world.

And the world did change a lot.

The printing press brought the world inexpensive ways to exchange information.

Sounds familiar. This article from Slate delineates a history technological scares from printing press to Facebook.

And the world still changes.

More and more people are reading books on hand held devices.

Not just people, but CHILDREN. And books can be delivered to them immediately. As it is the middle man is becoming obsolete. We cannot see how markers of success will be rewritten. With the printing press, publishers stepped in and were needed to get ideas to the people. How will the good books get to the children's hands? That is yet to be decided.

So...My Choice in Publishing: I don't know.

My book is not ready. I think it still needs someone to fall in love with it, take it on as one of their own, foster it out into the scary big world of the traditional/nontraditional published alike. So I will keep looking for that person until I can see and fix the book myself.

But my job is try to see the world without the lens of my attachments. I am a writer after all: we SEE things.

Can we let go of the world as we know it and step into the future with our eyes open as the canon shifts and shakes under our feet like the giant pile of paper books that it is?

Can we navigate the world not knowing what the future of books and publishing will be?

Well, we can at least write about it.

 I will leave you with this:

 Oh those Norwegians!

Read these other choices in publishing:

Heather Kelley Edited to Within an Inch of My Life
Kristine Asselin Writing. For Real.
Lynn Kelly Lynn Kelley: LynNerd's Random Acts of Writing.
Ansha Kotyk Ansha's Blog - A Writer's View of the World
Anita Laydon Miller Anita Laydon Miller's Middle Grade Blog
Tom M. Franklin Franklin, Ink

Or meet me on Twitter and tell me about your choice.