Our Life Of Crime

March 12th, 2006 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We have a small confession to make: yesterday, we did something unethical. Willingly and deliberately, we snuck into a workshop at someone else’s conference. Yes, we walked down the hall from our own conference to another conference and brazenly walked in, sat down, and listened to a panel discussion.

We will let you pause for a moment to reflect upon our crime (though we believe we have sufficient positive karma banked to protect our soul) as we reflect upon the irony of walking out of a session on blogging and writing to sneak into a session on writing and blogging*.

We will spare you a rehashing of discussions on the power of blogs, etc. You either know at this point or don’t care at this point. Several interesting concepts relating to literary publications emerged (maybe more — we had to dash back to our regularly scheduled conference; update later-ish) that we’d like to think about. Yes, this is where you, poor soul, must think along with us.

  • Globalization Of The Literary Community – The Internets have in many ways erased publishing boundaries. While geographically-oriented journals continue to have purpose, they’re reaching a far wider audience than originally contemplated by their founders, either through more readers subscribing via the journal’s website or online reading. Expanded readership can only be a good thing for writers and publishers.

    The model for print-exclusive publications is fairly well-established: someone sends you money, you send them hardcopy publications on a pre-determined schedule. Or when you can afford to publish. We are not aware of any online-only journals that incorporate a subscription model, though we’re the first to admit that we don’t get out much. It stands to reason that journals will migrate toward this concept. Done right, this can be a positive step for everyone involved in the journal.

  • Expanded Teaching Tools – Robin Beth Schaer, the panel’s moderator, noted that teachers are moving beyond the traditional classroom materials, using Poets.org as a resource for the classroom. This allows students to move beyond the standard offerings. A good, authoritative literary resource targeted toward the educational community will allow instructors to unleash new and exciting writing on students. Sure beats the force-feeding of the same old stories on future generations. It’s okay, they’re classics, but surely there’s more to reading than the same old, same old.
  • The Changing Face Of Prestige – Nothing says “I’m cool” like a string of prestigious publishing credits in your bio. Oh sure, you can name drop at parties, but it’s really only effective in certain crowds. Like the literary scene. Regular people will say things like, “Really, where can I get a copy?” To which the name-dropper will have to admit that it’s easier said than done. Of course, if you can point the person to a website, you may have earned yourself a reader.

    Online publishing is gaining in stature. It has audience, it has quality, it even has a low cost of entry. Some will never accept that an online journal can achieve the prestige of a hundred-year old paper journal; that’s fine. The key is that good writing is found online, and the works are accessible to readers. There’s an entire generation of online-first readers emerging. These readers need to be considered as seriously as any other.

In other, related news, AWP seems to put on a really nice conference. Lots of great sessions, good crowd. See, we don’t just sneak — we report.

* – “Blogs, Boards, & Online Journals: Salons for the 21st Century” – panelists included: Robin Beth Schaer, Ron Hogan, Ravi Shankar, Joshua Corey, and Tony Tost.

[tags]AWP Austin[/tags]

File Under: The Future of Publishing