Wednesday, July 18, 2007

RWA - The Dust is Settling

Now that some of the furor has died down over RWA's announcement regarding the changes in their "Recognized Publishers" policy, clearer heads are prevailing. There are still quite a few questions flying around over what they define to be a vanity/subsidy publisher, and that has quite a few e-published authors still in a bit of a tizzy.

As an e-published author, I am concerned with how RWA finally defines vanity/subsidy publishing. While vanities and subsidies aren't inherently evil beings, they work against those of us who use our e-publishing credits as regular ol' writing credits. However, if RWA leaves their policy as it is currently worded, the waters will always be muddy and that is detrimental to any author who sells their work to an epublisher.

Vanity/subsidy publishing is generally not considered a legitimate writing credit. Not to agents. Not to publishers. In fact, the only people who seem to think it is a legit credit are PublishAmerica authors, the ones who refuse to accept the general truth that they are under contract to a vanity publisher.

Now, this isn't about PA - but most people (not all, of course) know that anything you pay to have published (or any publisher that heavily suggests you buy your own books to resell - which is the PA model - vanity in reverse publishing, actually) does not count as a legitimate credit. If you try to query and agent and tell them you printed a book through Lulu (which is a vanity press, and openly acknowledges it), they will consider you unpublished. Same goes with an agent.

So, RWA needs to clear up their language in their definition of a vanity/subsidy publisher. No, they don't come right out and say "All epublishers are vanity presses", but their wording is so hazy and flip-floppy that you almost can't see the line separating vanity from epublishing.

There are scammy epublishers, just as there are scammy print publishing houses (PA). But there are also quite legitimate epublishers as well, such as the ones who'd achieved RWA Recognition and then lost it (though to be fair, the big publishers lost theirs as well. It doesn't exist any longer.)

RWA needs to focus on that definition, because it's of utmost importance to those of us in epublishing. I don't know when or if they plan on fine-tuning it, but I certainly hope they consider it. To leave the policy as it is worded does nothing to help that portion of their membership. If their creed is to help the careers of its members, RWA needs to stop and remember that they are quite possibly excluding a chunk of that membership. So, if they truly do believe those words, then they need to find a way to say it without making people think, "Yes, but it could mean..."

Only then will RWA be able to fulfill that mission statement.

1 comment:

Nita said...

Interesting column. I've always wondered about epublishing, how agents and other publishers see them. It's one reason I'd be leery to go the e publish route (not that I've finished a book to worry about). What are the signs an e publisher may not be on the up and up? Enjoy you blog, found you at Aw.