Perplexed by Publishing

I’m about to head to an annual children’s literature conference again. I certainly look forward to honing skills, learning more about the industry, having work critiqued, and meeting industry players. Maybe I’ll get my foot in the door.

I’m still pursuing the traditional publishing route; however, I’ve been repeatedly struck by the disdain with which self-publishing is handled, if it’s even discussed at this event. Authors are welcome to sell their books at the event… as long as they are “traditionally published.” Honestly, I don’t really get it. A well-told story is just that, and conversely, crap is crap. Why close the door to self-published authors? It seems to be a presumption that self-publishing automatically equals sub-par work. Not necessarily. And traditionally published does not automatically equate to great… or even good in some cases.

I read the jacket flap of any book before I decide to buy. I’m guessing you do, too. As with any purchase, if I’m intrigued or even simply interested, I’ll bite. Sure, the jacket copy can be great with the contents of the book lousy, but I’ve read some traditionally published books that seemed great on the cover and turned out to be less so.

With the digital revolution blowing the lid of content development and distribution of all types, it’s time to adapt, not circle the wagons. Means with which to create and distribute content are growing astronomically. Take Flipboard, for example. With Flipboard, anyone anywhere can create a magazine. Distribution? Social media. Stuff goes viral on a daily basis. (Let’s face it: some really stupid stuff has gone viral. I suppose there’s an audience for everything.) I’m certain there are going to be some really great self-created magazines and some really crappy ones. (And I haven’t explored the platform enough to determine what types of copyright infringement might occur.) Sharpen your informational filter again or waste time weeding through poor or pirated content.

Maybe, just maybe, that is the future role of publishing: a giant filter. Sadly, that’s bound to leave some really great stories going unnoticed and unread. Just a thought.

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