02 January 2012

Business As Usual: Inside Publishing

We begin a new year. Bright and shiny and full of opportunity, 2012 stretches out before us with all its good and bad. There will be opportunities this year, and to take advantage of them we must be ready. It is said that knowledge is power, and that has never been so true as now. Especially in publishing. Our theme for this month is Business as usual: inside publishing.

Unless you spent the last few years on Gallifrey, you know that the world of publishing is in an upheaval. What was true five years ago may not be true today. There are doomsayers claiming that New York publishing will soon vanish. That paper books and libraries will soon be outdated and everything will be digital.

Before we all panic and start burning books (shudder), let’s take a step back and look at this logically (yep, big Spock fan). First, I don’t see paper books going the way of the 8-track anytime soon. Digital is great, but paper is useful. I’m thrilled that a lot of trees will be saved by increased use of digital, but are we really going to have coffeetable e-books? I like doing research with paper books. Flipping through is helpful, seeing pictures and diagrams is useful, and spreading books all over the kitchen table gives me a warm, happy feeling.

OK, I’m a nerd, and you might wanna lookout for the apocalypse. This traditionalist got pulled away from her paper books kicking and screaming—but I now have a Kindle. It was a gift. Yes, I love it. Bite me.

I’m still reading The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler in paperback and happily flipping back to diagrams.

For what it’s worth, I believe there is a time and place for both formats. I’m old enough to have seen the world go through the wild swinging of change. And yes, in its time, the 8-track player was state of the art. A few years from now my laptop—and my Kindle—will be outdated and sad.  It’s human nature, folks.

My advice to writers? Don’t put all your books in one place. Traditional publishing, e-first, e-only, self publishing (electronic or print), all options. And there are many options within those wide parameters. Just do your homework. Don’t listen to only one side of any argument. Then go with what’s best for you and your work. Just don’t let your fear decide for you. Don’t skip submitting just because you can self-publish and never be rejected. Rejection can be the best thing that ever happened to you. It was to me, every time. Rejection hurts, but it’s part of the job. It happens to all of us.

Be informed, be careful, and take care.

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