Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back to the brouhaha

The discussion over at the ESPAN blog rages on about the view the RWA administration has taken regarding e-pub and small press authors.

Disclaimer: I have not read the letter from the RWA president. Due in part to this very issue, I have not renewed my membership to RWA, so I speak only based on the gist of the presidents words, which I’ve gathered from reading the posts of others.

In essence, so I hear, Diane Pershing has thrown down the gauntlet so to speak. Her letter has hundreds of authors incensed over what seems to be a sweeping denunciation of e-published and indie-press published authors being little more than hobbyists who are not ‘career minded’.

The discussion [I can’t call it a debate, because most of the authors who have weighed in on the subject and on super-agent Deidre Knight’s subsequent post, all seem to be in agreement. There really is no actual argument, just a long line of ‘career minded’ authors who are defending the path they’ve chosen to publication] centers around the stance of the Romance Writers of America which seems to place those who pursue the route of e-publishing in a lesser standing than those who have gone the traditional print [translation: NY] route.

In the past, the issue had revolved around content – such as what constitutes a romance, can a non-male/female couple really star in a romance novel? Are MM, FF, Menage and other alternative lifestyles to be considered ‘romance’. Does erotic romance deserve a place in the annals [that’s two N’s for you gutter-minded people] of romance or should ‘smut’ and ‘pron’ remain as the redheaded stepchildren of romance, just as romance itself has long been considered the redheaded stepchild of literature and ‘serious’ writing?

My take is similar to that of just about everyone else who has spoken up in response to Ms. Knight’s post. Electronic and small press published authors are NO LESS CAREER MINDED than those authors who are published with traditional print [NY] houses. In many cases they earn as much or more, they work as many hours, probably spend more time promoting their books and interacting with fans, and they strive, just as traditionally published authors do, to write the best book they can and connect with readers on a deep, emotional level. They are not LESS because they did not earn an advance. They are not LESS because perhaps their books are not available in book stores. They are not LESS because their route to publication may have been faster than for those who sometimes wait two years from the date of their contract to see their book become available and often six months to a year after that before receiving their first royalty checks.

Even though I am no longer a member of RWA, I would still like to see the organization make the changes its membership demands because there are so many authors who have gained great benefits from association with their local chapters. I would like to see the huge number of small press authors with which I’m familiar get the recognition they deserve as hard working PROFESSIONALS.

I understand Ms. Pershing will be responding to Ms. Knight’s post on Friday, June 19th. I’ll be looking forward to hearing what she has to say.


Kristen Painter said...

I'm really curious to read her response too. One more day...

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I will be there with bells on. Thanks for being the catalyst of this, Kristen. Maybe the doors will finally open for real change now.