During my recent intense search for a permanent fulltime job, I kept forgetting to mention that I’m also published online. Every week, at least once a week, I write a 500-700 word essay here about writing, my writing projects, or classical music subjects. That is the same as if I were writing a column for a newspaper or newsmagazine. And yet, oddly, I don’t think of it as publication.
The internet and progress in digitization is forcing a re-definition of many things, a re-assessment of legitimacy in some instances. For my purposes here, I will stick to things literary. Traditional publishing has been rocked a couple of times in the last one hundred years. It began the 20th century with hardcover books and only hardcover books, some even leather-covered. Then came paperback books. They broadened publishing possibilities and added a couple points to the profit margin. I don’t know when recorded books first came into existence, specifically for the blind. No one considered at that time that sighted people might enjoy them too — until the 1980’s, and then they took off. I have a good friend who loves audio books, and listens to them on her work commute and long road trips. At the end of the century, the internet opened up a whole new world with seemingly endless possibilities. Traditional publishing was not terribly pleased. In fact, if I remember correctly all the articles that appeared in Publishers Weekly during the 1990’s, publishing houses were terrified of losing their business and terrified of not thinking of a way to take advantage of the internet themselves.
We are now in the midst of a huge change in publishing. Websites are considered publications of those who created them, and it can be expensive to have one created for you. There is an entire segment of the workforce dedicated to them. In addition, authors have posted their writing online, giving it away for free or asking for payment through Paypal. Is that a publication credit? E-books, while still a small percentage of the total books published each year, have finished the hurdles race to be accepted as real publication, especially with traditional publishers on board with e-publishing divisions. Some believe e-publishing will eventually make traditional paper-and-board publishing obsolete while others believe it will be like audio publishing, i.e. just one more content platform for sale.
My publication credits currently include essays published in magazines, a journal, and a hardcover anthology. Why can’t this blog join them? Or must I compile an anthology of my posts to be published in e-book or traditional book form before I can claim a publication credit? If to publish means to disseminate or to put before the public or issue the work of a writer, then the form, i.e. hardcover book, CD, or digital file, doesn’t really matter. However, if it means to issue the work of a writer only in specific forms accepted as publication by the industry and the general public, then the form does matter. And who determines that?
Literary agents and publishers currently tend to dismiss POD and self-publishing as not really publishing. I think they’re justified in that belief to a certain extent. However, I don’t believe they completely ignore books that have been self-published. In fact, John Grisham’s first book was self-published. I think it depends on the quality of the product, as in all business. And in self-publication, writers need to understand that quality counts, and it costs.
So where does this leave blogs? I think I need to work harder at including this blog in my publication credits. If I treat it as a publication, then it is a publication……