|Everything you wanted to know about Paradigms,but were afraid to ask. . .
If you're unfamiliar with the use of the term in a social or scientific context, a paradigm shift includes the whole 'oh, the earth is flat and we'll fall off the edge' construct in contrast with 'oh, no, the earth is round, dudes, and has no edges.' A more modern example: In the 1970's it was known that stress caused ulcers. Then scientists discovered H. Pylori bacteria and a whole knew avenue of treating/preventing ulcers was born.
The tricky thing about paradigms is that it's easy from a perspective further along in the time line to say, 'hey, those silly simpletons. How could they have believed that ___________, when we know it's really _________' (fill in the blanks.)
In the ulcer example, guess what scientists have figured out? That chronic stress changes the gastric environment, making it more hospitable to H. Pylori. Not so simple, then, as 'new-truth-trumps-old-falsehood.
Another uncomfortable reality is that holders of the old belief don't magically 'see the light' when confronted by the new shiny. No, the reason our beliefs shift is because the old guard die out and the new believers are the ones who control the message.
What does any of this have to do with writing and publishing?
The rise of the eBook along with distribution channels for eBook sales plus the ability for authors to sell books directly to their readership via those channels is nothing if not a profound paradigm shift in the world of publishing.
Paradigm shifts are messy, painful, and difficult. Just ask Galileo.
So many of the conversations around the 'net about self-publishing feels to me like a room full of scientists arguing about the mechanism of ulcers, or ancient astronomers about the shape of the earth. In the end, neither the ulcer nor the planet really cares what we believe. The words on the page won't either.
So what does matter?
For me, it's about one thing only: providing the best quality story to the right audience, regardless of the delivery mechanism. For some books, that will be via self-publishing, some via small press, some via the agent/editor/publishing house method.
The arguments that try to vilify one side or another are pointless and small.
The arguments that try to vilify one side or another seem driven by fear and a need to control the eventual outcome of an evolving, shifting process.
None of that will make any bit of difference to the process of storymaking and creation.
Ultimately, we live in the world and try to understand it as best as we are able. We treat our ulcers with the best treatment available at the moment. The only thing we can be sure of is that our understanding of things will change.
No one knows what publishing will look like in 3 years, in 5 years, in a dozen years. So holding fast to one and only one way of getting creative work into the world (whichever way you favor) will only make the shift an impossible chasm to cross.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you a reader? A Writer? A publishing professional? Usual guidelines apply--no personal attacks, please.