Before I begin my usual ranting, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of our readers and authors for your wonderful support. Luna Station Quarterly started strong two years ago and continues to grow with each issue. I’m very proud of the voice LSQ gives to women authors and I’m humbled by the growing sense of community rippling through the background. As we start our third year of publication, I look back amazed at the diverse, funny, beautiful, intriguing, and challenging stories I’ve had the honor of sharing with the world and I am so grateful for the support of everyone who has read or submitted, or simply retweeted a link to a friend, to share LSQ and our mission. Thank you, all.
Now then, a few observations about the literary world from where I sit right now.
It seems like in between Luna Station issues the whole publishing world shifts under my feet and it all gets turned upside down again. It astounds me how quickly our world is changing and how what works one week will be obsolete the next. It’s a joy and a wonder to behold, if a bit challenging to try to process and act upon.
If someone had told me 20 years ago that a venerable bookstore, an upstart online retailer, and an at-the-time troubled computer manufacturer would be in steep competition over ebook readers, I would have told them they were nuts. eBooks were never going to take off, right? They had always failed before. Ha!
Now I find myself thinking about ebooks on a daily basis. Should I self-publish my own work via ebook? Should LSQ have an ebook version to build on the pdf? Why do ebooks cost so much when they come from traditional publishers? I love my Nook, and my iPad, but why don’t I read more on them? What is this all going to look like a year from now? Six months from now? Tomorrow?
It’s a series of difficult choices we all face as authors nowadays. We can still try and go the traditional route, though unless we have blockbuster bestsellers in our trunks, that career won’t last very long. Independent publishing is growing, but we’re left wondering which small press is reputable and has enough clout to help us sell our work. Then, of course, we can self-publish. Many still see this as ‘vanity’ publishing and without the ‘proper’ editorial guidance that a traditional publisher applies to a work that assures readers of some sort of quality control.
On that last point, I pause. Traditional publishing is not what it once was. Even in the biggest NYC houses, editorial staffs are being cut and many books are pushed through production with little guidance and less than ideal editing. Forgive my strong opinion on this, but the plethora of cookie-cutter YA paranormal romance titles out there must expose this challenge better than anything else. Yes, people will eat up whatever is trendy in the moment, and young women in particular will back that concept up with a passion, so from a business perspective, things look good. But just because a pig will eat slop doesn’t mean he wouldn’t rather have truffles, if you see what I mean. People will embrace quality if they are exposed to it.
Does that mean that all published materials need to meet certain quality standards, standards that are, at best subjective? Of course not. I love a ‘potato chip’ series as much as the next girl (you know, you can’t read just one?), but a healthy imagination cannot grow on chips alone. Something rich and strange is needed, too.
So, I suppose we who are considering self-publishing, or already have done so, are faced with an odd dilemma. As I see it, this is less about making money and getting contracts and more about integrity and acceptance of our efforts as ‘professional’. The rules are changing and I’m afraid I don’t have the right answer for myself, never mind for any of you who may read this.
There is a raging sea of possibilities and too few lifeboats. But perhaps, if we all hold tight to our fellow authors, if we write the best stories we can and keep putting out the highest caliber work we are capable of creating, we can find our way to calmer waters.