Thursday, February 3, 2011

A New Breed in Publishing

The American Kennel Club recently recognized three new breeds of dogs--The Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Norwegian Lundehund, and the Xoloitzcuintli.  According to the AKC, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a high-energy breed, the Lundehund has six toes on each foot, and the Xoloitzcuintli, besides having an odd name, is hairless. Six toed and hairless?  High-energied?  What kind of strange pooches are these?

There are some other new breeds on the scene that have yet to be recognized by the authorities, but these aren't canine breeds.  They are new ways of publishing manuscripts.  With the advent of revolutionary technologies, the standard scenario of acquiring and agent who then procures a publisher to purchase and produce a book is being challenged.  Today, more people are sidestepping that traditional process and taking their manuscripts directly to the market via vanity presses and e-publishers. 

In many cases, these books are odd like a six-toed paw or even downright homely like a hairless dog.  But like the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, there is a lot of energy pouring into this new style of publishing.  As a writer, instructor and editor, I've been approached by several people, mostly former students, to edit their manuscripts, which they intended to self-publish, and honestly, the few times that I've agreed to do so, the experience has proven to be quite painful. 

There is no way to stop progress.  The new methods of publishing are here to stay, but without agents and publishing houses acting as gatekeepers to good writing, readers may be seeing many dogs when it comes to manuscripts. 

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