Monday, May 3, 2010

Independent Publishing

The following notice ran in the March/April 2010 edition of the SCBWI Bulletin:

SCBWI Board Takes Up Issue of Independent Publishing

In light of emerging technology, recent developments in eBooks, electronic publishing, and print-on-demand ventures, the SCBWI Board of Advisors will be discussing and formalizing a policy regarding independent publication at its August 2010 meeting.

Among the issues discussed will be the possible creation of specific programs and resources to serve our independently published members. In advance of this meeting, the board will be taking under advisement the opinions of the general membership. Please email your thoughts on the subject to indypublish [at] scbwi [dot] org. All correspondence will be kept confidential and shared only with members of the board.

How could I resist sending my thoughts? Since I'm seriously thinking of independently publishing (eventually) my fantasy trilogy, WATERSPELL, this is becoming an issue dear to my heart.

Here's what I wrote to the Board of Advisors:

I love the idea of SCBWI offering programs and resources to serve independently published members.

THE WILSON QUARTERLY (Autumn 2009 issue) had a great article ("The Battle of the Books") that talks about "the consolidation of the publishing industry, the decline of modestly selling midlist books in favor of blockbusters, the shuttering of newspaper book review sections," etc.

One paragraph leapt off the page at me:

"Today, the industrial model of publishing is undergoing a rapid reconfiguration. In a world where anyone can publish freely -- and millions do -- the old supply chain is coming undone, as publishers see both their economic power and their cultural authority erode. Institutional gatekeepers are giving ground to bottom-up, self-organizing networks of readers and writers."

I look around my circle of professional colleagues and I see every skill that would be necessary to launch a publishing venture. We have trained, experienced editors; talented illustrators and designers; tech-savvy Web gurus; marketing specialists; media specialists -- there isn't a job category in publishing that we wouldn't be able to cover.

I keep hoping that we'll become a "self-organizing network of readers and writers" and publish our members who so richly deserve publication (but who can't get their feet in the ever-smaller New York door). With some help and guidance from SCBWI, we might make the leap into co-op publishing. (And by "co-op," I mean the dictionary definition of a cooperative: "An enterprise or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services.")

Another thing to consider: As younger people join SCBWI, they'll bring their self-publishing experiences with them. They've grown up publishing instantly on Facebook, Twitter, their blogs, etc. They won't have the patience to wait years for the blessing of some New York editor.

I expect that, as SCBWI loses some of its older members and gains new members who aren't as devoted to the traditional model of publishing, the pressure will build on the organization to provide services for independent publishers.

I'm all for it! (I got a B&N Nook e-reader for Christmas, and I love it. Digital is the way of the future for novels, I truly believe.)

Thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

Best wishes,
Deborah J. Lightfoot


"One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." —Carl Sandburg

Deborah J. Lightfoot
�My new blog:

TRAIL FEVER, byline D.J. Lightfoot, $12.95, 800-544-3770
THE LH7 RANCH, by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore, $21.95, 800-826-8911
A CENTURY IN THE WORKS, by Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore & Simon W. Freese, $39.95, 800-826-8911

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