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.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I don't think there is a wrong or right choice but it's up to each writer to weigh the pros and cons and make the decision!

  2. I agree, Laura! The world is changing around us and I just really hope I can adjust and grow with it. It's actually a pretty exciting time to be a writer. Thanks for reading.

  3. I think a lot of writers look for affirmation. It's a basic need. We want people to respect us (publishers) and other people to be proud of us (our families). That was the piece of the traditional route that was hardest to give up. It's been not just a writing journey for me, this indie epubbing thing, but an EMOTIONAL one. I've had to learn to respect and be proud of myself. Getting to that point emotionally is worth so much more than a book on a shelf.

  4. Anita: I didn't realize how much I needed to do that until recently. It has come up in teaching, in blogging, with Twitter. And the whole process has been so passive until now. You're right. It is worth a lot more to take an active role. I do so admire you! Thanks for sharing your leap with us. I am learning a lot from you in so many ways.

  5. I think a lot of the news and blogs and dialogue make it feel scary. Like you need to go one way or the other. Make a choice. But you really don't, IMHO. Or at least, you don't have to make one, singular choice. It still comes down to the book. Write the book.

    And I just have to add that it means so much that you think Ive been a model for you. I admire you so much in starting the practice room and bringing so many of us together. I'm actually teaching a workshop in the spring and might want to pick your brain at some point!

  6. I think it is great to put this into a historical perspective--it takes some of the fear away.I'm so glad that you talk about amazon--I'm so interested to see how that plays out. I think we all need to stay informed!

    Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  7. Kris, oh, I hope you do! How fun! I want to hear all about your workshop. And I absolutely mean it, you are totally a model. Your writing is beautiful and your tenacity is admirable and I would love to have the agent, the work for hire and the fab. possibilities you have! :)

    Heather: Yes, I do love this historical perspective in particular. And staying informed will be easier with all of us paying attention. Thanks for reading!

  8. OMG the video. #toofunny #mustpostthat

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

    We haven't much choice, yeah? And so we must be brave and go forward without all the assurances of "knowing" the right thing to do. Jane Friedman had the best quote about this (I'm paraphrasing): "We don't know the right answer. No one does. So, we might as well just have fun with it."

    I applaud your continued striving for craft because I think that's tremendously important. And when you're ready, your eyes are open and I know you'll make a good choice because of it.

    (I also write MG and YA; I think YA is ready for e-books, but we'll see what Christmas brings for MG readers. If not this year, then in the next three for sure.)

  9. You have time on your side in which to investigate and eventually decide what's right for you.

  10. TINA: I think the staying informed thing is great to a point. Some of us (okay, maybe it's just me) spend too much time staying informed (read: surfing the net), and not enough time writing.

  11. Susan, Yes! I agree with Jane! And the learning and crafting part is fun for me - luckily. Thanks so much for the visit. I'm heading out to check out your blog. I did like your cover over at Lynn 's blog!

    J.L - Thanks. I hope so! I feel like there isn't really a wrong decision as long as I get behind whatever it is all the way. :)

    Anita, You're absolutely right. I am definitely guilty. More writing. More writing... November is around the corner. :)

  12. I'm not positive what my choice in publishing is right now. But I'm happy that there are more viable choices right now. I will be able to share my book with others one day.

  13. Tina, you sure did an excellent job on this post. I love how you bring in the changes throughout history and how the world is always opposed to changes, at first. That videoclip is outrageously funny! I'm so glad you included that in this post. It's perfect! Haha!

    I have no doubt that you'll figure out which way to go with your first novel, and you might try another path with your second, etc. Thanks for adding all the other links, too. I haven't read them yet, but I will!

  14. Lynn, Thanks! I love your enthusiasm out here and willingness to check everything out. It has been a pleasure to share in this blog ring with you!

  15. Tina, Just doing follow up on the blog ring and realized I must not have posted my comment. I had said something about how being an IT/Helpdesk person actually makes the above video even funnier because it's so inherently true! People are afraid of "new and change" because of the fear of doing something wrong. But that's life isn't it? You have to take that risk if you want to evolve. :) I loved your historical perspective. Thanks for the great post!

  16. Kelly! I totally missed your comment. I don't know how. Sorry I didn't respond to your awesome comment! That makes it so hopeful, I do believe you're right - there are so many alternatives for getting your work out there.

    Ansha - Thanks for the comment. Nice of you to come back. :) I love that video. It works so well to use the book where our conventions for reading are so ingrained and unquestioned. That video made them all seem new and that feeling of confusion is so familiar. Just think of the way our children will be so unconstrained by those same conventions. Yes, this whole new publishing world is so full of risks, but it is life! Yay!

  17. Hot topic these days. Thanks for putting the option into perspective with a funny clip. Great blog!

  18. Thanks, Kelly Louise! Nice of you to visit. Glad you enjoyed the video!

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