Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
To recap, I have four wishes for the publishing industry in 2010. They include:
- Reduce the stress and overwork.
- Don’t overbuy titles, resulting in a lack of promotion for many projects.
- Publishing associations need to work together rather than primarily as competitors.
And my fourth wish for the industry is that we recognize we’re applying old rules in a new world.Publishing is changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the roiling of the waters. So I understand why Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Mystery Writers of America both banned Harlequin and Thomas Nelson authors from receiving writing awards. The reason for the decision? Both of these publishers announced they are starting self-publishing divisions.
In the past, such a decision signaled that a publisher was concentrating on bringing in money from wannabe authors rather than on selecting material based on its quality and marketability. Since many aspiring authors are willing pay to have their work published, it was important and necessary to distinguish the two very different modus operandi of self-publishing and royalty-paying publishers.
But in the 21st-century, in my opinion, both Thomas Nelson and Harlequin are bowing to the inevitable tide of self-publishing. Yes, the decisions most likely were made to bring in money, but those decisions also reflect the breaking down of the traditional publishing walls that kept self-publishing and royalty-paying publishing neatly where they each belonged.
The world isn’t so neat any more, and our tidy rules of the past no longer serve us as they once did. Surely writer associations can find ways to distinguish between a publisher’s self-publishing wing and royalty-paying wing. Yet writer associations, agent associations, and publishers themselves have been slow to recognize the future belongs to the fleet of foot.
I wish we all would take the time to ask ourselves if we’re blindly applying old rules in a brave new world.