This editorial, by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, originally appeared on Publishers Weekly on 12/20/10.
Yes, Virginia, we’ve entered a new digital age in publishing. But there’s another major change afoot.
America was founded by a scrappy bunch of determined, motivated, fed-up citizen soldiers who revolted against an unjust system that benefited the few at the expense of the many. Like them, a new 21st-century group of brave outsiders has decided to revolt against the often unfair elitism of modern publishing. We call them Citizen Authors.
Sure, some of these brave new Citizen Authors are Harvard graduates with megaspeaking careers and fancy titles. But most Citizen Authors aren’t college professors, graduates of M.F.A. programs, or even relatives of someone in the publishing industry. Instead, they are veterinarians, entrepreneurs, schoolteachers, bartenders, soccer moms, firefighters, goth teenagers, and foodies determined to write their way to success.
Citizen Authors have two things in common: (1) a dream of having a book published, and published well, and (2) the will to make it happen by whatever means necessary. Some Citizen Authors self-publish, some e-publish, some partner with small, medium, and megapublishers, and some do all of the above. There’s Seth Godin, who uses his creativity to package, market, and publicize his books in unique and savvy ways that embrace a grassroots methodology. There’s Robert St. John, who depends on his local following to successfully publish and produce gorgeous illustrated books that defy all publishing conventions about the coffee-table book market. There are Patricia Konjoian and Gina Gallagher, mothers with a passion to help other mothers despite no "expertise" in their topic.
Workman published Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry’s The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully last month.