Thursday, June 23, 2011

A turning point

At this point in time I have very little faith in the New York publishing industry.

Some of you, I know, will spring to their defense.  There's a segment of American society that always sticks up for the powerful in knee-jerk fashion whether it's in their best interests to do so or not.  (Case in point: the number of people who got indignant and upset when it looked like there might be a public option for health care--because the poor downtrodden insurance companies would have had to compete with the government!!)

Now, I personally have about as much confidence in the moral integrity of Big Publishing these days as I do in that of stockbrokers, oil companies, bankers--and insurance companies.

Which is to say, very little at all.

I formed this opinion largely after reading the blogs of industry insiders like Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith,  Michael Stackpole, and J. A. Konrath.

Check it out. Things look pretty grim in the world of Big Publishing these days.

It hasn't always been that way. Maybe someday it will change back to the way it used to be (a few lawsuits down the road, I'm thinking). Maybe it won't.

But for now, at least, I'm steering clear.

Who am I, you may ask, to sit in judgment on an entire industry? Some little pipsqueak unpublished writer?

I'm somebody who has become leery of doing any business with them, that's who.

Now, pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but every successful writer was an unpublished aspirant at first. Without exception!

Writers provide the content that publishers are in the business of selling. Without them there would be no publishing industry.

I mean, duh!

Whether or not I'm any good at my craft has no bearing at all on the validity of the point I'm making here. Which is:

For too many years the tail has been wagging the dog. We've acted like they were doing us a favor to publish us when in fact they couldn't have stayed in business without us.

And now, suddenly, we can compete with them on surprisingly equal terms.

Why shouldn't we do that?

What obligation do we have to help them preserve their outmoded business practices?

None that I can see.

I've been writing for years, and I've been steadily improving all the while, I think.   I'm finishing up a science fiction novel that I feel is the best thing I've ever done. Up until a week ago, the game plan was to send it off to one of the few publishers who will still look at unagented manuscripts.

No more.

So you see, it's not like I don't have any options. I could continue down the traditional path (and I really think the new book would have stood a good chance in New York) if I wanted to.

I don't want to.

It's a turning point.

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