What I found interesting was the amount of time spent on detailing the need to send work out to slush piles, journals, and short stories—essentially working to get stories published the traditional way. Gilbert worked to become a writer before the options of self-publishing were mainstream. Anyone self-publishing was doing so through zines or having to shell out a lot of money up front, and any avenue would have limited distribution. It is a crazy world we now live that anyone can upload a text document and have a book.
The route of self-publishing has its own challenges. Primarily, being willing to claim the title of “author,” without making it past the gatekeepers. You have to steal the mark of approval; you have to earn it by your readers. Readers won by word of mouth, by reviews, from the grassroots, by the author’s ability. While self-published authors will have their own social media campaigns, and time in traditional advertising, for so many, publishing is sending a work out there without even the hug of a publishing company believing in you.
I’d like to argue that’s a good thing. Is every work that’s self published great? Nah. I’d personally love the ability to hire an editor, but that’s not in the budget. But many self-published works are great. Or they identify with people in ways that not everyone expects. It allows the possibility of more diversity, more cross-pollination of genres. All in all publishing work digitally allows creativity to blossom. In reading Gilbert’s book, I thought there was a bit of a missed opportunity in her talks regarding how the view of artist needs to change, we also should examine how the action of creating has changed is something we are all on the cusp of.
I personally can’t wait to see where it goes next.