Collecting dust on my bedside table is the Benjamin Franklin Action figure. Collecting dust, but there never-the-less. He has his trademark round glasses and frock coat and has a good grip on a kite complete with a key. And on the front of the package is a quote from old Ben, “Energy and persistence conquer all things”.
That’s why I love Ben. He had his faults. He knew how to hold a grudge. He was less than faithful to his wife. But his quotations reveal a man who loved words. He loved the way they made people think and he loved the way he could use them to change people’s thinking. He was a wordsmith of the finest caliber.
And I think that that quote, that someone in marketing at the toy manufacturing plant liked, is one of the most applicable to what I’m trying to do now- conquer the inertia of the publishing world. Like today, in Ben’s world, all one had to do was purchase a press and voila, one was in the publishing business. Today all you have to do is set up a WordPress blog, and voila, you too can be a Silence Dogood. Okay, it wasn’t this easy for Ben, but people really did buy presses and start printing. Its one of the ways the American Revolution happened. It wasn’t easy to silence the press because they’d pick up their type and move to another city, start again.
We see this today in the Middle East. The rise of the tiny presses and the rise of the masses. We see this in the news industry and we are seeing it in the publishing industry too. The decision in any revolution about when to join with then new movement is complicated. Jump too soon and you can be crushed between the fickle public and the powers that be. Jump too late and you are seen as a fuddy-duddy, someone who just switched teams because the other team lost. But what happens if you switch and the other team wins?
Luckily it isn’t a life or death matter in the romance biz. We have choices. We can stick with the big paper publishers, we can go with a small press, we can e-pub or publish individually. It is a big decision. And there are repercussions for making the wrong decision, but they are things we can recover from. They even become learning opportunities.
The big error for us is not making a decision. Either not submitting, or not self-publishing. When you don’t make a decision you become someone who lets their life be run by the pressures of the universe. You become a piece of paper blown by the wind, and, if you are lucky, you get somewhere. But that is a slim chance. Odds are you become lost, become detritus.
So I’m sending out a call to arms. A call to not only pick up the pen, but to make a decision that you are not a fence sitter. You are a person who makes a move. It might be the wrong move, but it is a move. Something to get you out of the gutter and into where you wish to be. Become a Silence Dogood, or a Ben Franklin, but become something. Become decisive.