When I first started trying to publish my novels, my experiences taught me that there were certain practices that everyone seemed to prescribe to. You needed a writer's market handbook (which I do recommend, by the way), and you needed an agent. Then, you were to follow the standards to the letter, format and measure and choose a genre and etc., jump through flaming hoops, dance on hot coals, swim through lava, sacrifice your first born, and then, if you insisted on going the way of utmost tradition, maybe perhaps, if a star aligned in the correct constellation while the exact agent met the fated contact who sweet-talked them into reading your manuscript, then they might... might consider representation. Then, of course, you have to pray to God that one of the big dogs of publishing will throw your agent a bone, which requires a whole new level of disillusionment. All this just to tell your story...
Rejection and disillusionment are a good thing, mind you. You need to experience these in order to grow. You need people to be honest with you when improvement is required (which is basically always, because one can never stop growing). But, I wonder, discipline and talent and nurturing of skill aside, do we need to follow traditional publishing standards in order to be great at what we do? If we lose the narrow vision goggles, do we recognize that we're missing the wide screen shot of possibilities?
I'm thinking of epublishers, small presses and various forms of Indie authordom. I am well acquainted with people who are published via pretty much all venues, and I wonder at those who criticize or belittle such courage and hard work, simply because an author dares to take an alternative route. Think about it. If the same size seven shoes are treading the same footsteps through a concrete path for decades, what of the size tens? Where do you step when your ideas are progressive and don't fit the mold? What road do you travel when change is the name of the game?
Some forms of publishing are a real old man's club. It's hard to get in unless you smoke the same cigars, wear the same outfits and swing the same literary anatomy, so to speak. But times are a changing, as they should, as they must, in order for an art to thrive. Take ebooks, for instance. They seem to be the certain wave of the present, forget the future. A lot of you have probably heard of the NY Times wanting to do a top ten ebook list. This excites me, for sure, because it means that someone is acknowledging the flow of time and the reality of change.
It's kind of the age old battle, to prove that change doesn't necessarily equal the end of times, and that the big, bad C word is not only okay, but also crucial to survival? Just because something is atypical, non-standard, does not make it wrong or any less valid. Reinvention is a good thing, and it may very well, in this humble author's opinion, save the necks of a nation in peril of tragic illiteracy. I realize a lot of us have a terribly hard time with change. As it's always been, the phenomenon tends to bring out the worst in some people. We humans like to cling to what we know, to what has been laid out for us as "correct". When people say, "This is the way to go", it's a lot easier to follow right along. Things aren't so scary then. And I can hold hands with those who wish to preserve some of the old ways along with the new. It does, however, sadden me to witness disrespect directed at the ground-breakers of our literary world, especially when I realize that these attitudes are largely motivated by fear, whether understood or not. Nothing stays the same, after all. We can only take the good we've gathered and the knowledge learned and let it flow into today's mold. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing it completely.
I'm always wary of people who claim to know the "right" answer, the "best" way. Where unbending black and white yields war and hatred, why would we encourage such a thing in the written arts? Words are meant to alter us, to inspire, encourage and shake us up. I would loath to think that some passionate idea might die with its thinker, simply because they were never given a chance to share them with the world. So, here's to my author friends, in all their varied shades of expression, and to their Indie and alternative presses. However you choose to share your creations and whatever route you travel, know that I am shaking pom-poms on your behalf.