Alaskans are innovators. Risk-takers. Maybe even opportunists. We're not afraid of change. (I refuse, however, to embrace the M word, leaving maverick to the Texans, the occasional Arizonian, and Alaskans with large political aspirations.)
Stereotypes aside, I think there's a fair pile of evidence behind these assertions. Indigenous Alaskans are ingenious, master of developing and adapting technology. And most of us newcomers embraced change by journeying far from the familiar, embracing adventure.
So where do we stand when it comes to changing paradigms in publishing? Consider this excerpt from agent Nathan Bransford's blog post, "It's the End of Publishing as We Know It: Do You Feel Fine?":
"In essence, it's the best of times and the worst of times. If you're an enterprising author there is a world of opportunity out there. Never before have we had a book publishing world where truly anyone could publish and potentially find their readers. Before there was a fundamental obstacle: distribution. That's going away. Anyone can publish. It's a massive, groundbreaking shift! I suspect soon there will be even more opportunities for collectives and online communities to boost sales, build brands, and become real players in publishing. Out of chaos comes order.
At the same time, when faced with such a multitude of choices, people tend to go with the familiar, and publishers are following that trend and filling that niche. The blockbuster model carries a great deal of risk, and there are drawbacks to putting so many eggs in a few baskets, but it may not be an irrational choice. And of course, this means that precious few new authors will get the backing of the publishers, making it that much harder for them to break out. But once an author is able to break out and convince a publisher to invest in them, no one can match a major publisher's combined efforts in publicity, production, and distribution.
It certainly is a brave new world. After changing so little for 75 years, the book industry is in for a wild ride."
I'm enterprising. I embrace opportunities. Heck, I'm even part of an online community with the potential to boost sales and build brands. When I was an educator, I had a reputation for trying new approaches and initiating new programs. So why as an author do I cling to the traditional routes to publication, chasing after editors and agents who, by virtue of the system, spend a good chunk of their time slamming the gate?
In her review of Shopping for Porcupine, Amanda Coyne bemoaned the fact that traditional publishers had passed on some of Alaska's finest writing. With paradigms shifting, will the path to viable regional literature for Alaska mean passing on traditional publishers?