When I started writing fiction way back when, one of the first things I did was rush out and buy a copy of the current Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market guide. I think it was the 2011 or 2012 issue. It was mostly worth the money and is still something I recommend buying ever couple of years or so.
One thing I found curious when I flipped through the pages for the first time was the number of listings for web-based publications and ebooks. The whole ebook revolution hadn’t yet begun, so ebooks were a relativity undiscovered format at the time. It was the web-based (or e-zine as the kids say) listings that really caught my attention.
In my head, all I could think was, “how is that any different than posting a story to a blog? Isn’t that cheating?”
At the time, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to see my name in print, but had been an active blogger on politics and pro-wrestling sites, so seeing my work on the web didn’t really send any thrills up my leg. I wanted to be a “writer” damn it, and to me that meant holding a psychical copy of something with my name on it in my hand.
A year later, I finally had that opportunity when I received my first short story acceptance. I did everything new writers are supposed to do with that first publication; buy numerous contributor’s copies to hand out to relatives, brag about it on facebook, register a domain name, etc.
But what’s really funny, is that not long after that, I suddenly and consistently started ignoring the “print only” option in my searches on Duotrope and Writer’s Market. My attitude about “print only” had changed as well. So much, in fact, that my second and third short story acceptances were to online publications.
And course I should mention that not long after that, I started my own online publication, Theme of Absence.
The world of publishing was changing, and seemingly in a matter of minute, the stigma from publishing electronically had vanished. It could be the ease of publishing to the various electronic formats, or the availability and flexibility from the newer technology, but whatever it was, e-publishing was suddenly seeming…legit.
And now with the popularity of Kindle E-Publishing and similar services for independent and self publishers, the publishing world has really been thrown upside down.
I think this is a really good thing. There are so many more options out there for writers now, and getting published is easier now then ever before. And contrary to my initial feelings, this doesn’t over-saturate the market. In a free economy, the best will still rise to the top. And abundance of choices won’t change that. It only makes everything easier and more accessible.
So even though I still buy hard copies of books any books I read for fun or anything I’m published in, I can completely understand and respect why someone else couldn’t care less about a physical copy.
And the craziest thing to think about is that there was a time where I wouldn’t even consider submitting to an electronic-only format, but now think it’s strange when a print market doesn’t include an electronic alternative, which was just unheard of to me as little as six years ago.