Monday, June 22, 2009

RWA and Digital Publishing

So I've been reading the fallout over the RWA's stance on digital/e-publishing for the past few days. I've only been a member for a little over a year. I joined just in time to witness the dissipating mushroom cloud that hung in the air after the definition of romance eruption. And like all nuclear detonations, the repercussions of that little gem are still reverberating.

I don't plan on addressing the contests or the marginalization (perceived or real) of epublished authors within the organization. Or the theories that epublishing is not accepted because erotic romance sells very well in ebook format. Others have taken that tack and done them justice.

I'm the first to admit that I don't know all the facts of the current situation. Nor have I read up on the RWA bylaws, and perhaps I should. I have read the president, Diane Pershing's, letter to the membership in the RWR every month. Her tone in some of those recent missives is at best condescending to a segment of RWA members.

I've made it no secret that I plan on moving my writing career towards e-publishing with no real motivation to break into the large NY scene in the near future. Each individual has their own ideas on how to take care of their career. I have mine.

Such a diverse group of writers in the RWA will never agree on everything, but I believe there is at least one point all members will rally behind. Education. And this is where I find a big hair in my taco with the current BOD and the president of the organization

They are not making the effort they should to educate their members on this issue.

I don't care what stance a person takes on epublishing. It's a legitimate business model, it's not. Whatever. Digital rights in publishing and ebooks are already a major issue. It's here now. Even if the BOD and a segment of the membership do not wish to acknowledge it.

Just look at eHarlequin. Or go to ARebooks and search by publisher. Authors from recognized NY publishing houses are having their works published electronically. And have been for some time.

Which, by extension of definition, makes it a legitimate concern for the BOD of RWA. Even if RWA wants to turn a blind eye to the entire epublishing industry - which in my extremely humble opinion is a gargantuan mistake - it is still not offering much help to authors in understanding their digital rights, ebooks, contracts, pitfalls, piracy etc.

There are many others more qualified to expound on the low overhead of selling digital copies of print published books and the low royalty percentage that goes to the author for those sales. But even I can see the danger of allowing that precedent to go unchallenged and keeping authors in the dark about this increasingly important portion of their contract.

So even if members wish to dismiss a business opportunity for their writing that is growing exponentially, digital publishing has already breached the mainstream. There's no going back. And RWA at the BARE MINIMUM should offer long range, forward-thinking education to its members as soon as possible just to catch up.


Susan Kelley said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. I don't have in depth knowledge of what the board is thinking or even the percentages of epub vs traditional pub authors. The most important thing belonging to RWA does for me is allow me to join the local group. I suspect there are lots of members like me who would never join national if we weren't forced to do so.

Victoria said...

Nicely done! I haven't done the necessary homework to feel I have an opinion to voice on this, but I'm in total agreement with what you said!
And what Sue said.

Ava Quinn said...

I haven't sought out much from National yet. I get very good information from my local. But there will come a day when I'll want to.

I know that running a huge organization is a daunting task. And there are rules to follow for good reason. Change can come, ever so slowly, but it will take persistence. The momentum right now is good, but when it must come down to a tighter focus of objectives over months and months, will the people who are fired up now, who will also have to compromise over their vision of what change they want within the change movement, still have the drive and desire?

I really hope so. But that's like democracy. Tending the fire is a constant job. Not just when your freezing and want action immediately. It takes a commitment of time and energy.

Enough of my soap box. Time to start packing for Montana.

As always, thanks for stopping by, Sue!

Ava Quinn said...

Thanks, Vicki. I don't know the ins and outs of the org., but I know it's worthwhile.

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