With all the hubbub lately about Distant Early Warning, I thought I’d make a post that’s a little more general, and give everyone a breath of fresh air. Rest assured, the new book is coming along swimmingly, and more updates, interviews and info are in the making.
I was browsing the SF Canada email list yesterday, and I was linked to a very interesting article by an independent editor. Here it is for those of you who would like to read it yourselves.
The thesis statement, in brief, is this: Mainstream reviewers and major news outlets should work toward devoting half of their review space to new and previously unknown works. Finding these works in the immense pile of indies is not difficult for seasoned editors and reviewers, who know within pages whether or not a work is worthwhile, and it would bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to big publishing, and in some ways take over for the new ideas that editors had to drop after the death of the mid-list. The reviews would not have to be long or involved, but even merely flagging a book for curious readers could spark a success for a deserving indie author. This could be something assigned to interns or slush readers.
I like this suggestion for a number of reasons. First of all, it does not devolve into griping about the role of the editor or the state of major publishing houses. At this point, those companies are in the clutches of major corporations, and have about as much chance of returning to the old system as a five year old has of returning to the womb. It’s not the fault of any individual within that system that books have started to take less risks. The corporations are just trying to make safe bets, which is what corporations do.
Instead, the author suggests that reviewers use some of their space to highlight the excellent work that is being done by many indies, in a way that (hopefully) won’t threaten the big guys that purchase advertising space. If this idea were implemented, indies would have a solid avenue of advancement and a place in the establishment, when at the moment our position is shaky and subject to change depending on a million different factors that are difficult to define. I have shared this article, and I hope you do too, if the argument strikes a chord with you.
On a more personal note, this article touches on why I made the difficult decision to change my focus from mainstream commercial success to an indie publishing business. For some, it is not a choice, but the only option to get their work seen, but I had been working professionally as a writer for the gaming industry for quite some time before taking this route. I chose to do this, because all my life, I have been fascinated by artistic daring. I have gravitated towards the discovery of the new, the work that asks more of its readers, and the dramatically different. Wherever the discovery of such works is going on, I want to be there… on the cutting edge. I want to forge a business where we all help to push each other into the light, where talented, unorthodox individuals can work together to make stuff like reviews, and recognition, and discovery happen.
But in order for that to happen, we need more good ideas like the one above.