Saturday, August 21, 2010

Future Imperfect?

So I read a great article the other day about writing goals. It focused primarily on keeping in mind why you write and what is important to you, rather than getting lost in the rush for money/fame/x factor of your choice.

That's not really what caught my attention about it, however. You see the author mentioned the new frontiers of e-publishing and while his fears about the changes and comparisons to the print world were very well put and in some cases very valid, I disagreed with his central premise. (Of course I did)

Actually, I agree with some of it. Even though, if you read back through the blog here, you'll understand that I'm all for change and progress and ebooks, etc. I'm attempting to purge my irrational emotional attachment to print, (though I still hang on to those Nortons)and my physical library is shrinking whilst my e-reader is packed fit to bursting.

So, his argument (a sound one, and one I've heard before) has to do with the editorial process and quality control. Okay, he's right. At the moment, any schmuck with a keyboard can publish his book. That doesn't mean it will sell, of course, but it does muck up the field for potential readers a bit.

The problem I have with using this to argue against epubbing is this. I doubt very much that the situation will continue this way. In fact, I'd bet money that it won't. Here's why:

The editorial process will intercede.

Once the old boys in NY figure out that E is IT, they will be all over it. (they already are in many cases) I've seen big houses shifting their focus entirely to E, I've seen e-houses looking for "agented submissions" (which tells me their inboxes are overflowing and they need that buffer of a pre-filter manuscript filter)
All of this is happening so fast, that e-publishing may look a lot like NY a lot faster than any of us might have guessed. Those old boys aren't stupid. They may be a little slow on the uptake, but they'll catch on quick. They survived this long, after all.

Names will change, but there will still be names.

Okay, so the trusted name in ebooks may or may not end up being Penguin or Random House, but it will still be something. I know already that I have a better chance of getting an edited, well worked story from Samhain or Double Dragon than I do from Smashwords or a Self pubbed book. I'm not dissin either here, there are some great books in both of the latter cases, but the discerning e-reader (person, not machine) will know fairly quickly where their best bets come from across the board. Quality control from the consumer just happens. Readers are not stupid. They'll figure it out whether we put a system in place or not.

If you build it, bureaucracy will ensue.

By nature, things will sort themselves into some form of ordered systems. It's sad, especially to someone who loves chaos as much as I do, but eventually the free for all chaos will degrade into order. Houses will rise, stars will be born, award ceremonies and critiques and (lions and tigers and bears) will arrive. It's nature...or not-ure. Either way, change isnt stagnant. There just wont be this crazy miasma of published e-works that no one in their sane mind will be able to wade through and find a decent book. (start panic now)

Come on. Seriously. Change will keep happening and things will sort out, level out, start to resemble the same, comfortable systems we have now--just with new, fancy clothes.

Kind of makes me teary to think about it. I rather like chaos, but it is an impractical place to stay for very long.

So, never fear, you creature of reason. The e-revolution, like any revolution will settle back into something we can understand, manipulate and set to rights. It just needs time, and maybe, not as much as you might think.

I still think any author with a little foresight will want to dive in now, start making that name and get behind your houses that started here, in E, and have a system in place that is kinder to the e-author than the muscle coming in might want to adopt.

Then just hang on for the ride.

~Frances

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