In full disclosure, you should know that I’ve even said it (scroll down into the comments of this blog post if you want to catch me red-handed). I’m not sure where I first heard this phrase, but obviously it stuck. I’ve been in the publishing industry for almost two decades as a writer, a self-pubbed author, a freelance editor, and an editorial assistant at a publishing company, and it just flew out of my mouth like the parental “because I said so.”
Fellow publishing professionals, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot with this phrase. We’re hanging on to old-school platitudes that don’t make sense anymore.
Here’s the truth: In this digital age, publishing moves at different speeds for different writers, and the key is finding the best fit for you.Some publishing paths are slow. If writers won’t settle for anything less than the top agents and the Big Five publishers…well, they might as well grab an icepick and make an igloo, because they’ll be camped out on that glacier a long time. Eventually they’ll sell a lot of books. Maybe.
But some are fast. Self-publishing is by far the fastest option out there. HOWEVER, writer beware: with speed comes error. Across the board, quality control is an issue for self-pubbed authors. At the next level we have new agents and small presses, who can move more quickly than larger institutions. Take it from me, there are many small presses out there in your genre, waiting (and hoping, with fingers crossed!) to read a well-written and compelling manuscript. They might even be able to edit and publish your book within less than a year from your submission date. No lie.
There are shortcuts. Regardless of which publishing method you choose, a savvy writer/editor/agent can maneuver the system. While writing is a form of art, publishing is a business and therefore follows the basic rules of business practice. Networking, negotiation, and commitment go a long way to making your dreams come true.
Anything is possible. At this pivotal time in history, the publishing industry is literally up for grabs. Writers, listen up: WE HAVE OPTIONS. Want to self-publish but afraid of sacrificing quality? There are numerous professional freelance editors and proofreaders out there. Maybe they just got laid off or want to supplement their income. Maybe they’re at home with a baby. But they are trained and ready, and probably charge much less than a proofreading service. Same goes for cover artists and publicists. Think outside the box and use your social media skills.
And for the love of all things literary: let’s stop saying that publishing is slow (or glacial, or that it moves at a glacial pace). We’re not doing our troubled industry any favors when we fall back on moldy clichés birthed from the brick-and-mortar era of publishing. Those days are over.
In this digital age, publishing (in whatever form) moves at the pace we choose.