Only, the words being used aren’t that nice.
The E-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing war (of words) between genre writers, continues to heat up.
Is this a good time to make an appeal for cooler heads? How come we’ve gotten to the point where working professionals in science fiction publishing refer to each other as “house slaves” and “fuckwads?” I’m not really interested in unearthing a, “Who started it,” conversation, as much as I am interested in reminding people that hyperbole and metaphor are just that — hyperbole and metaphor — and that where passions are strongest, it’s easiest to tip over into ad hominem commentary. Which simply isn’t necessary (in my opinion) because this isn’t a winner-takes-all scenario. This is not the Steelers vs. the Packers in the Superbowl. One game, one trophy, one win for one side.
Alas, more and more professional writers — at all levels — seem to be choosing sides. Or, rather, are being forced to one “side” or the other. And some rather unfortunate language is going around as a result. Speaking as someone who has done fairly well on the “traditional” end and has yet to seriously contend in the “e-publishing” realms, I look at both avenues and I see options. A table of choices. I have not yet been in the business long enough for any of the various on-ramps to be closed to me, nor have I been forced onto any of the many off-ramps. The “freeway” looks clear and if there is any sign hung over the road, it reads, CAVEAT AUTHOR. It’s up to me to pick and choose what I want to pursue — and with whom — and if I suffer setbacks or fall on hard times or find routes shut to me, well, I just have to be creative and see what else works. And that’s no mark against people who have succeeded via streets or byways that didn’t work for me. And it’s no reason to declare my particular avenue as The One True Way.
I think all of the combatants in recent internet dust-ups on this issue make good points. If either side seems to be shouting anything clearly, it’s that writers — now, more than ever — have to keep their heads up and their eyes and ears open, and be “situationally aware” in ways they probably weren’t ten or fifteen years ago. I said it earlier this week: the industry is shifting, things are changing, and it’s a genuine crisis. Which poses both dangers, and opportunities. Many will succeed in the flux. Many more will fail. But then again, it’s ever been thus.
So can we please throttle back? Stop taking the rhetoric so personally. Stop accusing other people of character flaws (or worse) because they’ve said or claimed something — in the heat of argument — that ruffles our feathers. I have friends on both “sides” of this thing. Good friends. Professional friends. Every one of them has a different opinion about the coming change — or the change that’s come? All of them give advice, and the interesting thing is that virtually all of them are right depending on your point of view, where you’re at in your career, what you want to do with the evolving technology and markets, et cetera. There is no Royal Road. No need to get huffy, or insulting. And certainly no need to let times when people have been huffy or insulting, get too far under our skin. Of all the issues over which to make enemies — in this field — I think E-Pub vs. Trad Pub is probably the silliest. And yet, it’s the issue that’s causing more fights than practically anything since the New Wave.