Dancing and Feeling Good About Publishing

"The politics of moving, aha - If this message's understood..."

“The politics of moving, aha – If this message’s understood…”

Recently I sent my novel to a publisher for consideration. I try not to think about it too much but I’ve got my fingers metaphorically crossed they’ll accept it. The key is to keep expectations low.

However, I can’t not think about the future. It’s sort of what I do.

To do that, I think about the past and what I thought the future would be. At some point I (and a lot of others) thought sure that the future would be filled with chrome and jetpacks and flying cars. Even silly things like The Jetsons gave us ideas, like video phones and the three-day work week.

In every version of The Future, there were things that were a lot the same as they were then, or now, if you prefer. There’s always food, almost always entertainment of some sort and always relationships. There are always corporations, too.

Since I’m a writer, the particular corporations I’m interested in today are the ones that publish stories, entertainments. Like the one I sent my novel to.

In the last thirty years, entertainment has changed dramatically. Gone are the 12”, 33 1/3 Long Playing records of my youth in favor first of cassettes, then CDs and now digital formats like MP3. Gone are the four networks and their summer rerun schedules in favor of first VHS, then DVD and now cloud-based streaming on smaller screens. Not gone, but certainly less prevalent are the bound books made of paper that are migrating to a computer cloud where one can read but doesn’t necessarily own anything any more despite paying for the privilege.

Books in particular come in multiple formats: paper, audio, digital. Some are from major publishers, some from smaller presses and a great many more are self-published.

There’s been some criticism of Stephen King for daring to publish only on paper. I don’t recall much criticism when he published only in audio back in the 90s, but that was before the Internet was anything more than an enfant terrible.

Sometimes I think about self-publishing my stories, sometimes I submit them to be rejected by the markets that interest me. I live vicariously through my friends that are more successful than I at being accepted and that motivates me to keep trying. But sometimes the frustration is intense and it would be so easy to give up. Or to simply self-publish.

Whatever comes in the future for books and entertainments, there will be multiple platforms and print will always be one of them. Audio in some form or fashion and digital, as well. As we move inexorably toward the future, it seems more and more imperative for creators of entertainments to be accessible across those multiple platforms. And yet, the idea that a creator must consider the fans’ “needs” when releasing these entertainments is ludicrous. A creator does what a creator does and the fans either go along or they don’t.

Yet in the age of the Internet, they can pillory a creator with impunity.

Realizing that formats will change in ways I can’t envision yet (though I try) I will choose to send my works to reputable publishing houses to take advantage of some of those formats. Self-publishing means being more promoter than writer.

And I’m a writer.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at www.jasonarnett.com

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