I’ve been watching the RWA versus epublishing debate for years, and I have a somewhat moderate stance on the issue, I suppose. My publisher is professional. My editor is a professional. I am a professional. It would be nice if RWA recognized that. But how does RWA recognize Samhain without recognizing Fly-By-Night Porn, Inc? I don’t know.
I do know some of the RWA-Hate I’ve seen recently isn’t helping. And no, I didn’t join the new yahoogroup for RWA Change because I don’t care to have RWA-Hate delivered by digest to my inbox. You have no idea how much I wish all the people involved in epublishing could elect a small group of spokespeople to manage the online argument, leaving everybody else free to shut the hell up.
Why? Let’s pretend I’m a big organization representing a ton of NY-published authors as well as many aspiring authors, and there’s a group of people out there who want me to recognize their business model is legitimate and respect their work. Let me give a hypothetical approach:
Hey, Shan, we’d like to talk to you about our business model. We have an informational presentation that illustrates why epublishing is a professional, viable approach and we’d like to share that with you, as well as getting comments from the people running for RWA office. Perhaps you could form a small volunteer committee to represent you and we could work with them on questions and answers and compromises and perhaps find ways to solve the problems you anticipate if you recognize epublishing.
My possible hypothetical response:
Maybe. I represent a large group of people, many of whom don’t want to address this issue, but if you continue to impress me with your positive, diplomatic, professional opinion, I might be willing to at least hear you out.
Now let’s look at another slightly less hypothetical approach:
Hey, Shan, you suck because you don’t respect what I’m doing, which means you’re a stick-in-the-mud and your business model’s a dinosaur and it’s going to be extinct soon, so how do you like that? You’re just jealous, plus you’re killing trees so you don’t care about the environment. Is your hair blue, because it’s obvious you not only hate sex, but you’re threatened by it. We’re the future of publishing, and you’re too stupid to see it. Why don’t you go sweat over your reserves against return while I go laugh all the way to the bank? Oh, and you have typos, too, so there!
My possible hypothetical response:
HOW you say something is just as important as WHAT you say, and the argument for RWA accepting epublishing as a viable publishing option is, by and large, not being said well. I don’t read self-help books or watch Dr. Phil, but I do know you’re supposed to argue with “I”, not “You”. You don’t browbeat the other party with all the ways they’re wrong. You calmly and persistently illustrate the ways you may be right.
Bipartisanship isn’t achieved by a die-hard Democrat and a die-hard Republican screaming at each other. It’s a small group of moderates from each side, working and reworking and talking and compromising and reworking again until an agreement is reached both sides can live with.
Epublishing is not going to gain respect by trumpeting the ways print publishing is wrong. That’s just as bad as traditionally published authors proclaiming epublishing is wrong. The ignorance flows both ways. Both business models have pros and cons. And until people can discuss them rationally, without insulting the other, there’s not going to be a compromise.
Probably the most problematic aspect of the current online climate is the fact that once the RWA-Haters jump on the topic—and they’re quick—the more professional, diplomatic and well-spoken epublishing advocates don’t want to jump into the train wreck, so the opportunity for constructive conversation is lost and those of us involved in epublishing are left to be represented by people who are offending and insulting the very people we want to view us as professionals.