Sunday, March 13, 2011

old school thinking in a new school world

Okay. I've already established that I plan to publish the ebook way. New school, right? Make a name for myself, blaze a trail, all that. But there's still something in me that's drawn to the allure of books-in-print. Now, I love my NOOK and seem to find more time to read now than I have in the past, but there's something reassuring about the feel of a paperback in your hand, you know? So I still would like, someday, to see my stories transformed into real-life ink-and-paper babies. Something I could hold out to someone and say, "See this, here? This is mine."

But I guess that's not the only reason. While I'm excited by the prospect of getting my stories out there for people to read, I almost feel like going the self-publishing-ebook way is a bit of a cheat. Here's what I mean: No one has said, "Yes, this book is worthy of publishing. People should read this book." Well, I've said this, of course, but it hasn't been verified by outside sources.

(Perhaps that's where sales and reviews come in. Let the people say what they think of the books.)

I guess my fear is this: I tell someone, "Hey, I've published some books. You should read them." That person says, "Sounds awesome. Next time I'm at the book store, I'll pick one up." And I say, "Oh, you can only buy them online because I self-published online." I fear then the person might not be as eager to read what I've written. It's not gone through any sort of vetting system, so it might not be any good--or so this person may think.

To be fair, there have always been books written and published (traditionally published!) that have been...not very good. I remember one specifically--it was written by a French teen (probably why it was published--a gimmick) and it was not skillfully executed. I think the story was an okay idea, just wasn't good. And I know there are other examples like this in the world. I know more than one author has lamented, "How did that crap get published when no one will publish me?" But my fear is that self-published ebooks might have that same air of mystery (and not the good kind) to them--like mystery meat. It might be okay, but you really don't want to try just in case it leaves you camped out on the toilet all night.

I remember a couple years ago I got an e-mail from a former student. She was doing a poll for a college class she was in and the subject was publishing. One of the questions asked whether I thought there should  be more avenues for unknown authors to use to get published. Of course, that's only what I think the question was asking--it was so poorly constructed I couldn't really tell. That's the thing: I've known a great many "writers" in my time who have thought their work was phenomenal but whose work was really clunky, confusing, poor. (Now, before you think I'm being stuck up, please know that I count myself among these authors. The works I wrote in middle- and high school are atrocious. The ideas were good, perhaps, but the execution is lacking. Not that you could have convinced my teenage self of that.) Indeed, I have seen a couple of ebooks of such poor quality that I've not been able to read them (grammar is not dead!).

My fear is being lumped into that group. My fear is not being taken seriously.

But a bigger fear is never being heard, never sharing my stories. Never living.

So, this old school girl is trying to shift her paradigm and accept the future.

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