Change is good. Not the bad kind, obviously, but we can just go ahead and call that trauma or difficult life transitions or Mercury in retrograde. Change is good when you empty out your pockets every night and put it in a jar; change is good when you do it to babies; and change is good when it shakes up your world to any degree and lets you look at it afresh.
On a small scale, you’ll be seeing a few new and formerly-familiar faces around Like Fire. Daniel is back and he’s instituted an excellent Poetry Friday feature, and since both the world and this site need more poetry, that’s a good thing. And longtime friend and fellow-blogger Terry Weyna, most recently of Reading the Leaves, is going to be contributing some of her excellent content. Three people, as far as I’m concerned, make a party, and I’m always up for one of those.
As far as the wider world—or at least the literary part of it—everybody knows that publishing has been going through its own seismic shift over the past few years. I, for one, am pleased that enough time has gone by for the deafening levels of conversation surrounding it to finally ease up a bit. Fewer people going on and on about what the big developments might look like, more people rolling up their shirtsleeves and getting on with it. Innovation is great, but real change happens when those innovations imperceptibly lose their shiny newness and seep into the status quo.
I recently had the pleasure of doing a Bloom profile on Jon Clinch, author of Finn, Kings of the Earth, What Came After (writing as Sam Winston), and most recently The Thief of Auschwitz. It was a pleasure putting the piece together, but as it progressed I began to see that Jon is actually a pretty radical guy. His decision to self-publish his last two novels—particularly The Thief of Auschwitz, literary fiction that would have been equally at home at a small press or one of the major publishing houses—and to release the paperback of Kings of the Earth himself was not undertaken lightly, or impulsively, or in any half-baked way. Not only has that choice worked well for him, but the enterprise is a sustainable one. This goes beyond the story of a good guy who worked hard and did well; it’s a usable model. And Jon’s version of micropublishing, as he terms it, is what you’d want to see in any model: scalable, extensible, robust.
Jon was good enough to spend some time talking with me, expanding on the subject at length. He discussed the work involved, including the initial decision to bypass traditional publishing modes, the challenges of approaching independent bookstores with an Amazon CreateSpace-packaged book, putting together his own imprint, how the next generation of peripatetic editors- and designers-at-large might evolve, and the terrors of the slushpile, among other topics. The resulting Q&A is, I think, really valuable for anyone involved with the business of books, front end or back.
Go take a look when you get a chance. And in the meantime, I’ll be back with some Like Fire-centric stuff soon. For a change.